Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Ivy Cottage Playhouse

  I've had a doll post in the works, but things aren't cooperating. I can't find all the clothing to go with the doll, that I KNOW I have. I'm still looking for the last few things, so bear with me. On the bright side, doing research for the post I discovered that some other pieces I have that I hadn't yet identified, belong to said doll! So there will be some pieces included that I didn't even realize I'd have for the post.
  In the meantime, it has been ages since a kind reader named Christel gave me some information--- and even photos!---- of a toy I have been curious about for ages. I was having trouble moving the pictures from her email to my picture folder,and just didn't have time to figure out the problem with Christmas and all. Then I nearly forgot about it, because my brain in like that these days! But tonight I remembered again when I was actually at the computer, so now, with the photo problem straightened out, here we are.
  Some time ago I posted about the Ivy Cottage dolls,(You can read those posts HERE and HERE.) and books by E.J. Taylor.
The main characters of the Ivy Cottage books, rag dolls Violet Pickles and Ruby Buttons.
The first book in the series, which eventually included 5 books.

When my daughter Emma was small we read the Ivy Cottage books often, and we both had a set of the Ruby and Violet dolls. Emma also had a few of the Ivy Cottage PVC figures that Ken and I bought in Canada.

The back of the doll boxes shows the PVC figures at the bottom.
 She had Ruby Buttons and Miss Biscuit, and their goose Hanna Honk. But we were never able to find Violet. Here I have to stop and tell you that after all these years Emma's collection is complete! Christel and I were emailing about Ivy Cottage and I mentioned our Violet-less existence.Christel very kindly offered to send Emma a spare Violet she had! Even at 24 Emma was excited to receive her.
  The one thing I had never been able to find, or even find any information about, or even a picture of,was what was called on the back of the doll boxes and PVC packages 'the Ivy Cottage Pop Up Playhouse'. (Believe me, there is NOTHING on the entire internet about this house.) I never knew if it was a child's playhouse, or a house for the dolls.Either sounded pretty cool to me. The artwork in the books was beautiful.
If you read the other posts you'll have seen this before, but it's probably my favourite picture from any of the books.
I have searched for all these years for something about this house. And recently Christel dropped out of the sky with pictures of it!
  Christel bought her house second hand, and it didn't come with any furniture, so we still don't know if it originally came with any accessories.
   Here's what Christel has to say about the Ivy Cottage house:

Officially, it was known as the “Horsman Ivy Cottage Playhouse” from the “Horsman Design Studio”, and it was unfortunately made entirely of folding cardboard.  From the outside, it was covered with a leafy print, with a few “windows” spilling “light”, so it did not live up to my hopes.  

Because the construction was so flimsy, the floors would simply buckle up.  If you added furniture, it simply slipped into the corners, making it impossible to play with it. The cardboard insured that it would not survive. 

   So it's pretty disappointing to find this out after all these years of wondering! I still thought it was worth posting about the house though, simply because there is NO information about this house out there, let alone photos. So thanks to Christel for solving the mystery. Maybe now this house will no longer drive people crazy!


  1. It's amazing that there is still some information not out there somewhere on the internet. I've secretly wished for the Holly Hobbie doll house that was made for the vinyl dolls back in the 70s. I've only seen it once on eBay, and I remember it being pretty small, but I didn't think to save those pictures. I'm still in love with the *idea* of the house.

    1. I know! You would think you could find anything by now. Now I'm trying to figure out why my post or pictures aren't showing up in searches. Maybe the thing is just cursed! The Holly Hobbie house could be a nice way to display a collection of Holly Hobbie dolls. I also like houses to display cool miniatures. They are space hogs though.

  2. Hello, I just came across your blog and thought I would ask you about Davtex dolls. Would you let young children play with them? We received some from my kids grandmother and the dolls are pretty old. My concern is that they have bad chemicals in their plastic. I can't find anything on these dolls. Any thoughts?

    1. Hello, Very good point. I am by no means an expert on this, but I did a bit of research for you and found an article which states, "Vintage plastic toys frequently contain toxic heavy metals, particularly lead or cadmium, at concentrations exceeding current US and European limits," US researchers from St Ambrose University, Iowa, wrote in the Journal of Environmental Health, according to the Independent. "Old toys are still in frequent use and thus present an exposure that may be overlooked for children. "Given that vintage toys remain in widespread use, the results illuminate a potential source of heavy metal exposure." You can read the entire article at http://www.madeformums.com/news-and-gossip/why-your-old-barbie-dolls-could-be-poisoning-your-children/37537.html While the study seems to have concentrated on toys from the 70's an 80's, even older dolls like your Davtex,which I'm only assuming were older, could have even higher concentrations of chemicals, or have plastic that is breaking down even more, due to age. In any case, old dolls with hard plastic or hollow plastic bodies and limbs can be brittle and break with minimal play. The article also states,"Toys over 25 years old are likely to have degraded over time and release small plastic particles as well as the toxic metals – and young children are particularly at risk from their effects. "The developing brains and bodies of infants and young children are especially vulnerable to toxic exposures because they absorb and retain lead more efficiently than adults," the researchers said."They are exposed to contaminated dust by playing close to the floor, they chew and occasionally swallow items, and they put their hands into their mouths after handling many toys."
      If the dolls are family heirlooms you may want to put them aside for your future doll collectors, and only keep them for display. If they have no sentimental attachment you may want to thank Grandma, explain the dangers, and sell the dolls for your children. (Some Davtex dolls are worth selling,in other words, they have value),and you never know which ones until you try.) Since they were a gift to the children, you could give them the money, or some of it if it turns out to be a large amount,and let them buy a new toy, making sure they thank Grandma and show her what she 'bought' for them. If the amount is too large for spending all in one place, some of it could be put in a fund for the children for college or some other future use.

  3. Hi my mum recently cleared out the attic and gave me my ruby buttons doll she doesn't have her hair bows or box she came in as I adored her so much and still do but was wondering if u can give me anymore info I always thought there was a cartoon movie about her but not sure and wondered how much she was worth and if I should keep her out of arms reach of my young children

  4. Hi, Thanks for commenting. The dolls were sculpted by a wonder doll artist names E. J. Taylor.There was no cartoon, as far as I know. There was the series of books,written and illustrated by E.J. Taylor, which you can read about by clicking the links in this post. There is a value to Ruby, but the prices are all over the map. They seem to be higher in England. But I would say Ruby's real value to you is in your love for her. She's a pretty hearty doll. I would say see if you children love her like you did. If they do, hunt down those books, and maybe a Violet Pickles doll, and relive the joy you found in her all over again with your children! That's worth more than any price you could get for Ruby. Besides, you'd miss her!


Thanks in advance for your comments.