The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
85/2577-83 Doll's house and garage with packaging and instructions, tin / paper, Mettoy Co Ltd, Northampton, England, 1954-1965. Click to enlarge.

Mettoy tinplate doll's house

This tin-printed doll's house was made in Northampton, England, by Mettoy Playthings. It shows a fascinating insight into the interior design of aspirational housing from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s.

The earliest surviving doll's houses were not made for children but commissioned by European nobles in the17th century. Some in Germany were used to teach young girls household duties. In England during the 18th and early 19th centuries, doll's houses were called 'baby houses' because at the …

This object is part of


Object No.


Object Statement

Doll's house and garage with packaging and instructions, tin / paper, Mettoy Co Ltd, Northampton, England, 1954-1965

Physical Description

Doll's house and garage with packaging and instructions, tin/paper, made by Mettoy Playthings, Northampton, England, 1954-1965

Tin doll's house, comprising a two-storey, five room, main dwelling with a single-storey garage attached at the side. The tin printing is quite detailed and includes red bricks, flowers and windowsills on the exterior and wallpaper, various floor coverings, gas and open fire places, framed pictures and furnishings, all printed in bright colours, in the interior. A child's bedroom is decorated with wallpaper illustrated with toy soldiers and a tiny version of the doll's house printed into the wall. The garage is well detailed with work benches, a spare tyre, inner tube, tyre pump, various tools and a hand mower. The doll's house also has its original box and instruction leaflet with directions for assembly by tab and slot.


Printed onto front in lowercase: "MADE IN /GT. BRITAIN / BUILT BY/ METTOY"



The Mettoy toy company, the name for which was derived from the two words 'metal' and 'toy', was founded by Philip Ullmann in England in 1933. Ullman moved from Nazi Germany to Stimson Avenue, Northampton, to set up his toy-manufacturing business leaving his German factory, Tipp & Co, which he had run for 21 years, to avoid the anti-Jewish activities there at the time. He was helped by his South African-born cousin, Arthur Katz, who had previously worked for him and moved to England earlier, and Bassett-Lowke. They initially produced very similar tinplate toys to those being made in Germany. Within six years the Northampton factory was said to have 600 employees and from 1944 Katz was the managing director. Katz introduced the famous Corgi diecast cars made at the company's at Felin Fach, near Swansea factory. By the 1970s Mettoy were employing some 3,500 people.

Mettoy manufactured tin doll's houses from 1954 until 1965. At the same time other similar doll's houses were being made by another English firm, Chad Valley, and the American company, Louis Marx. After 1965 Mettoy began to make doll's houses from other materials. Mettoy also produced a supermarket, 'Emergency Ward 10' both in 1959 and a 'Central Fire Station' in 1963 as well as several types of houses.

The Mettoy doll's houses were packed flat for distribution and assembled with tab and slot construction.

"Dolls' Houses in Australia 1870-1950", Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, Glebe, NSW, 1999



This doll's house is part of a large collection of toys purchased in 1985 from the remarkable tin toy collector Ken Finlayson. Finlayson's knowledge and love of toys brought him a collection of nearly 2000 items, including highly collectable tinplate toys manufactured by respected names such as Carette, Bing, Marklin and Lehmann, as well as a variety of other German, English and Japanese makers. The Finlayson collection contains every type of transport toy - cars, trucks, tractors, fire engines, buses, motorcycles, aeroplanes, ships and trains,- as well as novelty toys, robots, kitchen toys and Meccano sets. It represents the type of toys that were available in Australia in the twentieth century, including ones made in this country by Boomaroo, Wyn-toy, Cyclops, Ferris and Robilt.

Cite this Object


Mettoy tinplate doll's house 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 3 October 2022, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Mettoy tinplate doll's house |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=3 October 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}