I recently came across a fascinating article on the history of Gee Bee dolls houses by Rebecca Green on the excellent "Dolls Houses Past & Present" website.
Gee Bee based in Hull were started around 1946 by 2 veterans using their army payment to finance the business. They sold their doll houses, farms and garages almost exclusively through a local toy distributor who traded under the name Tudor Toys.
The article reminded me that I gave my sister an early Gee Bee dolls house quite a few years ago. The DHPP article has a photo of my sisters actual house captured from the original ebay listing, so for Gee Bee dolls house fans everywhere here are some recent photos of it, still in it's original condition.
The house has flat painted flowers rather than the "raised plastic" flowers and "green flocked" grass described by a Gee Bee worker but these were clearly painted by the same hand that painted "Sally L's" house also pictured in the article.
It is made of hardboard, plywood and another softwood with chisel marks clearly visible on the back base slot. I am not sure if this was an "offcut" reused, or hand chiseled to size by the joiner who made the house.
These early examples are described as having no back - this one originally most likely had 2 sliding hardwood backboards that slotted into the groves and could be slid independently. Alternatively, perhaps "add on" rooms could be purchased seperately that were slotted into the groves?
Gee Bee Dolls House - Front
Gee Bee House - Back
Gee Bee House - Front Side view
Gee Bee House Back Side view
Gee Bee House - Garden and path view
Gee Bee House - base view
The house has lost it's "GB"label that would have been on the front wall, but it is initialed with "G B" for Gee Bee in pencil on the base. There are other initials that look like "F1 DB" and "E4" I would love to know what or who these other initials stand for.
It is likely that there was some variance in size between individual houses, but this one is approx: Length: slightly over 18 inches Height: 14.5 inches Total depth: 10 inches, with 4 inches for the garden. The tall chimney is 5 inches in height.
As Rebecca Green highlights in her article, Gee Bee evolved different variations of their original core designs through the years, as well as introducing new models. This first cottage had a few variations before it was re-invented as the more well known "DH8" Tudor cottage during the 1950's that continued to be made until the company folded at the beginning of the 1980's.
Variations of the Gee Bee Cottage
Photos from various ebay sellers - just like full size houses, these are often re-modeled, updated and repainted, so not always easy to date them
Cottage - right hand door Cottage - curved gables DH8 - right hand door
DH8 DH8 left hand door DH8 - 1970s
You can read the full history of Gee Bee by Rebecca Green on DHPP here:
Rebecca has written another good article about the handmade dolls houses that were constructed from designs and plans available in woodworker and other hobby magazines. I have a woodworker house together with the original edition of the 1935 magazine containing the design which I have owned for many years. Rebecca's article also has a photo of a different house built to the same design. Mine is still on my list of projects to re-decorate!.
My 1935 Woodworker Dolls House
You can see more photos of the inside on my instagram page.
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