mattel modern mid-century doll furniture

9 Jun

Mattel Modern boxes, courtesy Rosies Too and You

I have a son.  And unlike the famous Jenna (J.Crew) whose son famously had his photo snapped while receiving a bright pink pedicure, Fionn is just as well-defined by his dislike of pink and the prospect of having his toes touched at all.  This is a short (and probably non-PC) way of saying that there’s probably very little chance of him – anytime soon – enjoying this amazing dollhouse furniture I just discovered by the Mattel company, manufactured in 1958 and sometimes available on Etsy and Ebay.

Vintage breakfront, courtesy The Toy Box

This amazing toy furniture was developed in 1958, a year before the launch of Barbie. But I’m sure Barbie would have loved it.  You can see from the top image that this was a limited collection (and a premium one at that, being called “Mattel Modern” from the get-go).  The Scandinavian influence is apparent, and it pleases me to no end to learn that a mainstream toy company would have created what us KidRobot fans nowadays call ‘limited edition exclusives’ which may not have appealed to all doll-house-furnishing consumers at the time.

Mid-century dresser, courtesy The Toy Box

Chairs and table, courtesy The Toy Box

As with most niche mid-century modern furniture fashions, Mattel Modern has inspired a Flickr collection.  You must visit these images, if just to see the intense care paid to maintain and reupholster(!) some of these pieces.

Sofa box, courtesy Rosies Too and You

Even the packaging is fantastic.
As of today, I found pieces (as represented by the photos above) at the Rosie Too and You shop on Ebay and the Toy Box (in Texas) on Etsy.  Pieces range from $15 to over $100, but compared to those silly Vitra collector’s chairs, it’s quite a deal.  Keep an eye on them – at time of posting many of the pieces were already sold, but they seem to be popping up quite often.

Any additonal detail to add on the origin of these designs?  Anyone out there who’s furnished a mid-century dollhouse?  Please write!

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2 Responses to “mattel modern mid-century doll furniture”

  1. Patty March 4, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    I have the Barbie Mattel wooden table, 2 chairs, sofa, chair, bed and dresser. I am considering selling them, but have no idea of the value.

  2. Anika January 14, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    I have several of these lovely pieces for my 2 Jills (and growing collection of Jans, need to sell, but like them to model and one Jeff. I just bought the dining room set tonite. It’s all in another state and when I get there, they are getting a complete re decorating. I’m taking over more of the display case, and that’s it. Imagine, having the boxes! I should do dioramas and photograph with the special focus where the close is real clear and the back ground seems distant.

    I have some Strombecker, too and some with boxes. They are good for Ginny more than Jill.

    Too bad the flickr user is no longer up and least not there.

    After flicker deleted like 11 years of my photos I’ve been less enthusiastic but will give it a go. Put up the best of the old and get out my brand new, very first DSLR and snap away. I want to try out some new software on my new mac while it’s still new. too many goofy projects, huh?

    Enjoyed your blog.

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