Last month, this cute half scale dollhouse showed up on eBay.
The description attributed the house to Robert Bernhard of Dolphin Miniatures. Curious about it, I reached out to Cathy Miller-Vaughn, the current owner of Bauder-Pine. She started working for Pat Bauder in the nineties, and she knows the names of a lot of people who did half scale in that era.
Not only did Cathy recognize the house, but it turns out it’s a Bauder-Pine house! Here’s what she told me:
Pat and Bob Bernhard decided they wanted to create four houses that were similar and would sit on a shelf. This is the second house. … I think it was 1997, Pat and I went to CIMTA in Vegas and met a gentleman from Sri Lanka who would cut these houses for us. There were, I think, 100 or 125 of each house created. Bob designed and created the prototypes. They came assembled and unfinished. They arrived by truck, a big truck, in wooden crates. It took months for them to arrive. I was the one who had to unload those crates. Good times!
Eventually, only three houses went into production. The windows, doors, staircase, and railings were created in Sri Lanka with the houses. These are not anything you can purchase separately. The roofing with the kit was a plastic sheet of shingles. The roofing on this house, on eBay, isn’t the roofing that came with the house. Also, the chimney wasn’t included in the house kit.
She sent me this newspaper picture of the four buildings. From left to right they’re the Shop, the second building that never went into production, the Market Cross, and the Regent Street.
This Market Cross is owned by Ann Pennypacker. Cathy thought it might be the prototype. I love the curved bay window.
Notice how the quoins are handled — they’re only the front, to allow the hinged panels to open.
This is something I grappled with on the Mansard Victorian. I decided to turn that house’s hinged panels into one standalone panel, so the quoins don’t get in the way of opening the panel, but even if I kept the hinges I’m not sure I would do the quoins this way. It’s fine to only see the quoins from the front if the building is right up against other buildings like it is in the newspaper photo, but on a standalone building it’s a little awkward.
(Don’t get me wrong, it’s still beautifully finished! Just something I noticed.)
Cathy also sent me this photo of the Regent Street from her files. I feel like I’ve seen this house before without knowing what it was.
Trying to find other pictures of these buildings, I googled something like “half scale store” and came across this old auction listing. This looks like a Regent Street, but with different components.
The description mentions that the structure is made from wood and gatorboard, not all wood like the Bauder-Pine houses, so I suspect this one is a knock-off.
Back to the Shop on eBay. I liked it, but the price was a bit steep for me (starting bid of $299, plus $60 shipping), and someone had put in a bid already, so I would have had to go higher than $300 to win it. The exterior is nicely done, but I would have wanted to put my own touch on it. So I decided not to bid.
It’s a good thing I didn’t, because I know the person who won it! I’d recently been chatting with Elizabeth Palmer on Facebook about a roombox we have in common, and we got to talking about Bauder-Pine houses. She ended up winning the one on eBay for $305. I’m glad I didn’t bid against her and drive up the price.
This isn’t Elizabeth’s first Shop. Here’s a picture of one she already owned.
I was glad she got it, but a little regretful that I’d let it get away. And then, just a few weeks later, look what showed up on eBay…
This one was $240 Buy It Now with free shipping, and I thought about it for all of two minutes. :)
My new Shop arrived in the original box (packed inside a bigger box).
I googled Timberlina and found that they’re still around. The houses pictured on their Facebook page are children’s dollhouses versus collector’s houses, but they appear to be well made.
Seeing this reminded me that I’d seen a similar hardwood house at some point, and we discussed it on the Greenleaf forum. It’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but with dollhouses!
Here’s a 1999 newspaper article about Timberlina’s owners, Maljini and Gamini Amaratunga. Gamini is probably the “gentleman from Sri Lanka” that Cathy remembers. And here’s a 2021 obituary for Gamini, who predeceased his wife by three weeks. From the obituary:
From being an upcountry engineer for Browns and Berreck Battery, Gamini saw an opportunity in the community and started his own business, Timberlina Limited – a company that specialized in wooden products such as dollhouses, hotel furniture and especially parquet and boarded flooring. His work can still be seen gracing the floors of many important buildings from five-star hotels to homes of his close friends and prominent members of society all across the country.
The Shop I bought was nicely packed inside the original box, along with the windows, door, staircase, and a hook to keep the side panel closed. I plan to repaint the building and install new the shingles.
The plastic shingle sheet that had been glued on popped right off. The glare in this photo is the from light bouncing off the glue residue.
It also came with wood pieces for the top and bottom of the window seat area, and slats that I’m guessing are meant to be glued on top of the wood for a planked look. Or maybe they’re interior window trim?
The corner staircase is a bit fiddly. I had trouble getting it to fit, and Cathy confirmed that they were always tight.
Interestingly, the Timberlina houses on Facebook have similar corner staircases.
My first thought was to turn my new Shop into a toy store (possibly because the box it came in had TOY STORE written on it…), but another idea is to make it into an antique store where I can display some of my random pieces of furniture that don’t have a home yet.