I’ll accept most invitations to visit Windsor in Berkshire. That’s because it’s a historic market town with some pretty posh neighbours, and a roll call of famous residents present and past.
Windsor is a prosperous town as you might expect, with many wealthy homes and more than its fair share of antique dealers. I waited outside a late 18th century double storey house in a quiet street while waiting for the solicitor with the key.
I passed the time chatting with a friendly neighbour clearly with time on their hands. What was the deceased lady like, I asked?
Alice was quiet but friendly they answered although she was well over seventy. But she never had visitors and lived alone. I heard the house was in the family for over a century. I wonder who gets it now.
What a Pleasant Surprise Waited for Me Inside
The solicitor arrived and gave me the key. He was happy to leave me to get on with the probate valuation as we have worked together several times before. The house was tidy with clothes neatly put away in the cupboards. I like to treat probate homes with respect while investigating every nook and cranny.
Alice’s furniture was aging but still respectable. I won’t find any valuable chippendale pieces here, I realised as I climbed the stairs up to the attic. As I switched on the light and entered, my eyes feasted on a magnificent Victorian doll’s house on a table.
I had left my tape measure in the entrance hall downstairs, but I estimated it was four feet long with two levels and an attic. Then I realized I was looking at a faithful replica of the house I was standing in, down to the dormer window I was looking out at that moment.
What Could This Possibly Be Worth for The Heirs?
Doll’s houses were expensive playthings for children in Victorian times and large status symbols for royalty prior to that. Four hundred years ago they had imaginary, stylized interiors.
In the 18th century, however, doll’s houses became more realistic, although still handmade and with furniture handcrafted for a particular little girl. I sat down on a convenient chair to examine the interior.
The furniture was perfect in every detail, and the pictures looked just like real thing. There was a tiny note on the miniature dining room table. I took out my magnifying glass and read, this is your doll’s house now Alice. I had it since I was your age, love grannie.
Doll’s Houses have Become Collectibles in The UK
Nowadays, antique doll’s houses have become collectibles for wealthy adults, although I very much doubt they let their children play with them. They have become memories of a more graceful age frozen in time.
Their new owners treasure them for the memories they hold. Consequently, they command good prices at auction houses.
The value of a doll’s house at an auction is in the mind of the successful buyer. Since Alice’s is in such fine condition I would place a £10,000 reserve on it. It could sell for more; it just depends on who’s there.