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About me

I have been collecting dollhouse miniatures as far back as I can remember and I still own some of the dollhouse furniture I played with over 45 years ago. When I was a teenager, most of my babysitting money was spent at The Carousel, a toy shop located in Westport, CT, where I purchased Lynnfield and Shackman furniture for my homemade Colonial dollhouse. I also found antique and vintage furniture at Connecticut weekend flea markets, including my first pieces of TynieToy furniture.

When I went to college in New York City, I opened my very first checking account and the first check for $11 and change was made out NOT to the college bookstore, but to B. Shackman and Co., located only a few blocks from my dorm room. While in school, I worked part-time at one of the very first dollhouse shops, Kathryn Falk's MiniMundus located on Lexington Avenue and 77th Street, and after graduation, I spent a wonderful year working for Molly Brody at her shop in Westport. Molly introduced me to artists of the mid-1970's including Betty Valentine, Helen Norman, Donald Dube, Joen Ellen Kanze, Debbie McKnight, Joe Andrews, and I met other fabulous artists and renowned dealers of antique miniatures like Bob Milne at her twice-yearly Yankee Miniatures Show in Darien. And I will never forget the afternoon when she took me to see Gretchen Dean's amazing personal collection with its many pieces of furniture by Eric Pearson and other artists.

Unfortunately, Molly couldn't pay me very much and each purchase I made that year was very precious to me as I balanced my collecting passion with student loan payments! I eventually went to work in the corporate world, but never lost my delight in collecting miniatures. Decades later, I have the leisure time to focus my interest in antique and artisan miniatures by researching and writing articles for Miniature Collector and Antique Doll Collector magazines (click My Articles for more information). Through that work, I was asked to curate a museum exhibit and then asked to do appraisals and catalogue descriptions for several major specialty auction houses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. That work (it hardly seems the right word to describe such a pleasant occupation) has provided me with many opportunities to view wonderful private and museum collections over the past few years, and to examine rare and unique pieces that have never appeared in publications.

I've recently pared down my collection of antique dollhouses so I can focus more on collecting the under-appreciated work of vintage craftsmen. I've always collected Betty Valentine - when I worked for Molly at her Darien show, she was astute enough to place her own booth right next to Betty's, which gave me a lot of time to really examine her work and make carefully planned purchases. My very first purchase was a little tripod table with gracefully curving feet for $20 and I still treasure it. The Darien show was also where I bought pottery from Debbie McKnight, Jean Yingling, and Carolyn Curran.
 
After I left Molly's employ to work in New York, I joined the IGMA and saved for months to buy at the annual Guild show. When I lived in New York, I travelled across the country for my job and, when I had time, I looked up the local miniature shops and tried to bring home something unique to those shops. So many of them are gone now. My first business trip was to Allentown, PA in the middle of winter, and I found a funny little gift shop inside a family restaurant where I was surprised to find the furniture of Robert Gray. I couldn't afford to buy more than one thing, so I brought home his lovely cherrywood Jenny Lind bed for $38 (I so wish I could have purchased the bureau and washstand too!) It's odd to find his work now re-appearing at auctions.
 
I reduced my attendance at shows when I began to raise a family, but I tried to go to the Guild show or Philadelphia Miniaturia when I could, and when my daughter was older, I was able to go to London for the Kensington Dolls' House Festival (the best!) and Birmingham's Miniaturia. I finally got to the Singing Tree just a few years before they closed. Now I am a regular at the Philly show and recently returned to the IGMA show (click My Collections for my newest acquisitions).
 
I really enjoy the shops in Britain. They are often very small (like a lot of things there) and somehow they really pack a lot into those little spaces. I particularly liked the shops in Eton and Key Miniatures in Thame (now closed), and there is a nice shop in Leamington Spa, too, called Dolls' Domain. I went to some smaller dollhouse shows north of London when I lived for a while in England, and was pleasantly surprised to be able to buy dolls directly from Jill Nix, and for far less than what they cost at the Singing Tree. Now her daughter does most of the dolls and I bought some earlier this year. They are very similar except that the hands are way too big and look like flippers! The costuming is always very good, though.
 
It recently occurred to me that I should share photos of some of the things I have made myself for my collection on this page, so I will be posting some from time to time. (9.26.10)
 
A Sampler
 

I constructed these tables almost 20 years ago when my daughter was small and we shared a small Greenleaf kit house - the only kit house I ever put together myself. She helped sand, glue, assemble and paint it, and after I installed floorboards  and papered the interior, I constructed much of the furniture for it, sometimes with her help. Only about a year ago, after confirming she had no sentimental feelings about it, I gave it to a young girl who was the recently adopted daughter of a piano teacher who knew a friend of mine. My friend had brought them to see the exhibit of antique dollhouses I was involved with a few years ago and the girl had recently expressed an interest in having a dollhouse of her own. I was really pleased to pass along to her a small house I had enjoyed but no longer had room to display. I filled it with sturdier commercial furniture I had accumulated from auction box lots and my friend collected it and took it to them. I received a nice thank you note and later learned that playing with the house together had helped mother and daughter bond in a way that had eluded them previously. Ah, the healing power of dollhouses! I used component parts for the legs and central spindle.
I made this country dry sink after seeing a full-size example in an issue of Country Living. Now I would use different hinges, but I enjoyed painting and glazing this piece and distressing just enough...

I made this one-drawer stand to go with the brass bed I made in college. Since I did not own or know how to use a lathe, I hand-carved the legs and I used Butcher's Wax to apply a finish.
 

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