A rare 18th century doll’s house has sold at auction for more than double its estimated price.
The Evans Baby House sold for £47,500 at auction in Edinburgh today. Its estimated price was £15,000 to £20,000.
Part of the ‘Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings and Works of Art’ auction, Evans’ baby house is a stunning piece of social and cultural history featuring interiors and tiny artifacts from the 19th century century.
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The Baby House, an earlier term for what has become known as a dollhouse, was first documented in a book by Vivien Greene in 1955, reprinted in 1979, in which she tells the fascinating story of The Evans Baby House. Mrs Green, a notable authority on 18th and 19th century English dolls houses, was also the wife of novelist Graham Greene.
Theo Burrell, fine furniture and decorative arts specialist at Lyon & Turnbull, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Evan’s Baby House has sold so well with us today. It has provided us with a unique opportunity to work with something extremely special and rare, and we know the new owner will love and cherish it.”
The house became the property of the Evans family in Buckinghamshire at the start of the 19th century and was given to a woman, Anne, by a Miss Hancock, who was considered her godmother.
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Anne Evans, English poet and composer, and her sister Emma, were the sisters of archaeologist, geologist and collector Sir John Evans. Sir John went on to have a son, Sir Arthur Evans, their nephew, and the archaeologist best known for his excavation of the so-called Palace of Minos in 1900 and his discovery of Minoan civilisation.
Anne’s sister, Emma Hubbard, (née Evans), became the biographer of their dollhouse, stating that some time later it was given to a younger member of the Hancock family, the original owners. , and was never heard from again until 1886.
However, by a remarkable coincidence, in January of that year Emma visited Evelina Children’s Hospital in London and saw and identified the house, buying it back for a donation of four guineas in 1890.
After “saving” the Baby House, Emma set about renovating it. A feature of this era being framed miniature photographs depicting members of the Evans and Hubbard families, which hang in the first floor drawing room.
The original upper and middle tier tinted prints have been retained, one of which depicts the Gothic tower in Whitton Park, Middlesex, together with a small sepia drawing of his father.
Emma is believed to have sourced some of the current furniture, which includes a cute little chest of drawers on the ground floor, 19th century bedroom furniture and an earthenware table service, complete with its original box. Later additions include the children in the nursery and a male doll that Emma described as having “sheep’s whiskers”.