Who will buy this beautiful cottage?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A collectable gem comes up for sale

Every now and then a dolls' house comes along that melts your heart. Hummingbird Garden Cottage is one of those. The quintessential pretty cottage, festooned with flowers and a touching hummingbird theme throughout, simply cries out to taken home and cherished for ever.

Which is exactly the response that charity shop workers in Kent are hoping to get from readers of The Dolls' House magazine. The limited edition cottage from The Franklin Mint is being offered for sale to raise funds.

"People do like to donate to Demelza because it's a children's charity. People are so kind to us," says Janet Hitchen, manager of the Demelza charity shop in Parkwood, Kent. A woman gave the dolls' house to the shop after her mother, who owned it, passed away.

Janet's initial thought was to put it on sale for £180, but everything changed when shop volunteer Linda Chapman spotted the tell-tale Franklin Mint coin embedded in a side wall. Suspecting the cottage might be worth more, Linda did a little research and contacted an auction house for a valuation. The auctioneer was unable to help but put her in touch with The Dolls' House magazine.

Despite editor Christiane and assistant editor Karen each having two decades of experience in the industry, they were flummoxed.

"I'd never seen a house quite like this before," says Christiane. "It's charming and I knew I wanted to show it to our readers, with the hope of it finding it a good home and raising money for this worthwhile cause."

Karen added: "I was surprised to discover that The Franklin Mint, which specialises in collectables, made dolls' houses. I advised Janet to remove it from the shop floor while we found out more about it and gave it some publicity."

Hummingbird Cottage was a limited edition of 2,500. Four different cottage designs were issued. The name of the artist, Teressa Politowicz, is painted above the side door. Next to this is the coin with a central hummingbird motif and the words: 'Hummingbird Garden Cottage The Franklin Mint.'

Clearly intended for the American market, the dolls' house is open at the back. Externally it is heavily textured in resin with interesting architectural details and decorated with flowers. Tiny hummingbirds can be seen on the flowers and a hanging bird feeder.

The front door opens into a little hall with a grandfather clock and a staircase that leads to the bedroom. Viewed from the back there are four main rooms: the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and lounge.

The continuation of the hummingbird motif throughout the house is possibly its greatest charm. Look closely to see how it appears in wallpaper and tile designs in every room. It's even painted on the fireplace surround in the bedroom.

Another surprise feature is hidden magnets in the walls allowing pictures to be hung and moved without the need for glue. A miniature painting of Hummingbird Cottage hangs above the fireplace in the bedroom.

The dolls' house was given to the shop with lots of furniture, some of it apparently original to the house. 

"We had a lot of fun unwrapping it and playing with it," says Janet. "I can understand the appeal of dolls' houses to collectors."

While hoping to raise lots of money for Demelza, Linda adds: "I will be sad to let it go." 


How to buy Hummingbird Cottage 

Hummingbird Cottage is being offered for sale in a sealed bid auction. Simply send your contact details with your offer to the address below by 30 September. The buyer must be able to collect the dolls' house. Remember your money will go Demelza for sick children.

Post your bid to: Janet Hitchen, Demelza, 30 Parkwood Green, Parkwood, Rainham, Kent, ME8 9PN.

Tel: Janet on 01634 232655 


Helping children

Demelza is a charity providing hospice care for almost 800 children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families across Kent, East Sussex and South East London.


Its motto is: "Adding life to days when days cannot be added to life."

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