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2009/32/1 Dolls house, 'Charlaine', and furniture, timber / plastic, made by staff at 'The Sydney Morning Herald', for Elaine Sellers, the daughter of a Japanese POW, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1946. Click to enlarge.

Doll’s house

Made by The Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1946.

This dolls house was made by staff at ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ and presented to eleven-year-old Elaine Sellers in 1946. Elaine’s father, Charles Sellers (Charlie) had always promised to make her a doll’s house. After he tragically died of Malaria in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Thailand in 1945 his colleagues at the ‘Herald’ decided to do something for Elaine and made the doll’s house. Charlie had been a very popular staff member at the ‘Herald’ working in the Compositing Section of the...


Object No.


Object Statement

Dolls house, 'Charlaine', and furniture, timber / plastic, made by staff at 'The Sydney Morning Herald', for Elaine Sellers, the daughter of a Japanese POW, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1946

Physical Description

The timber dolls house sits on a green painted timber board enclosed by a cream painted two rail fence. Access to the house is via a front gate and path to the front door which is inset with coloured glass. Above the front door is a brass plate with the house name 'Charlaine'. The entrance porch has its own gable roof with barge boards which is attached to the main portion of the house, which also features a gabled roof and barge boards front and back. A gabled dormer window is set in the roof with a chimney behind it painted to resemble brickwork. The side path has a lattice gate. Behind the house is a small free-standing toilet with a gable roof and built-in toilet seat complete with a roll of toilet paper hanging from the door.

The doll's house is open at the back and is divided into three rooms. Two have linoleum and the upstairs bedroom has a piece of carpet. The doll's house is fitted with a few pieces of furniture including a kitchen sink, stove and bed, as well as an electric light switch and lace curtains.



500 mm


620 mm


915 mm



By the end of the War in the Pacific on 2nd September, 1945, the 'Sydney Morning Herald' newspaper office had five staff members held as prisoners of war. It had been thought that these men would have survived but the jubilation turned to sadness when, only a month later, it was learnt that Charlie Sellers had tragically died 10 months earlier in Thailand. The Herald's staff magazine, 'Boomerang', published during the War, devoted the front page of their last issue in June 1946 to Charlie Sellers and the other deceased POW, Charlie Jacobs. It noted that 'the career of Charlie Sellers (composing room staff) in the 'Herald' office had been one of unceasing service. A man of great organising ability ? he knew and was known by everybody in the House ? in his day there was scarcely a movement in the building of which he was not the head or a leading spirit'. Charlie organised outings, dances, and 'as Chapel and Union official, collector, or visitor to the sick, Charlie was perfectly in character.' The article goes on to note that the War Correspondent R. D. Rivett paid a glowing tribute to the late Staff-Sergeant Sellers 'I first met Charlie at the Bicycle Camp, Batavia, in April 1942. In October that year we were moved to Burma and, after the grueling on the Jap hellships, Charlie was put into the base hospital at Thanbyuzayat. Though very ill, he took charge of water distribution for the whole camp of 3,000 men, besides working selflessly in the interests of his mates in a hundred other ways.

'On June 15 in the second raid by Allied planes on the hospital a number of P.O.W.s were killed, and Charlie had a narrow escape, being blown through the air by a blast for some distance without suffering a scratch. The hospital was then abandoned and Charlie and thousands of other sick men had to carry their gear out into the jungle for six or eight miles to a ruined camp where we slept in the open without proper roofs, through two of the wettest weeks of the rains. I'll never forget staggering into this camp, and finding Charlie already there supervising the distribution of food to the exhausted men.

'Later, at the 30-km and 55-km Hospital camps Charlie again proved himself a bad patient but a sterling man by working ceaselessly to assist the M.O.s and camp staff in looking after the sick. At the end of 1943, just before we were brought out of the Burma jungle, Charlie was very sick with pellagra, chronic malaria and malnutrition. But in Thailand, at the Tamarkan camp, things were much better and for most of the next year, he was very bright and ceaselessly active looking after 'his boys' in the Tamarkan hospital. I said good bye to Charlie on January 5, 1945, when I was transferred to another camp a few miles away, [Charlie died three weeks later]. Charlie Sellers will not be forgotten by anyone who knew him. He has written his name on the history of the Australian forces in the Burma prison camps and his pals are immensely proud of him. He made me proud to be a fellow newspaper man and prouder still to be his friend.'

It is understandable that the staff of the 'Herald' were devastated to hear of Charlie's death and his widow, Margaret, and two daughters, Elaine and Marie, were made to know the high esteem in which her husband and their father were held. One of the more practical ways of showing this was the construction of this doll's house for Charlie's youngest daughter, Elaine, then eleven years of age. The doll's house was built by the men of the 'Herald' while the girls in the office put together the furniture. Elaine can just recall going into the 'Herald' office with her mother and sister when the presentation of the doll's house was made to her in 1946.

'The Sydney Morning Herald Boomerang', No.33, June, 1946.
Information provided by Elaine Molloy.



Charles Thompson Sellers was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on 15 June 1896, the son of William and Annie Sellers. He served his apprenticeship in Sydney and put his age up to serve in the First World War with the 10th Field Company Engineers in the Australian Imperial Forces. By the time the Second World War broke out he was 43 years of age, married with 2 children and working as a linotype foreman in the Compositing Section of 'The Sydney Morning Herald'. Charlie put his age down by 9 years to enlist at Paddington on 9 May 1940 and served in the 2/6 Field Company of the Royal Australian Engineers where he rose to Staff-Sergeant.

Charlie Sellers first saw action in the Middle East but his battalion was recalled to the Pacific in 1942. After the Japanese invaded Java he was taken as a prisoner of war and put in Glondoch Gaol, Batavia. He was then sent by ship from Java to Moulmein in Burma where the unsanitary conditions on board caused much illness. In October 1942 he began work on the construction of the Moulmein-Bangkok Railway from a siding called Thambuyzat. He spent two years working on this infamous railway and on New Years' Day, 1944, was sent to Tamarkan Camp in Thailand where he worked continually repairing a nearby 7-span steel bridge after regular bombing raids by Allied pilots. Charlie died of Cerebral Malaria on 28 January, 1945, and was buried in the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, 129 km NW of Bangkok with full military honours.

Once word had been confirmed by the Red Cross of Charlie's death, an impressive memorial service was held at his parish church at Campsie, a Sydney suburb, and floral tokens were placed on the Campsie Honour Roll.

Unfortunately the doll's house, which was so lovingly made by the 'Herald' staff for Elaine was little used by her as, not long after receiving it, she was sent to boarding school. However it was played with by her daughter who put in most of the surviving furniture. The original linoleum was replaced with pieces from a country farm house. The doll's house has remained in the family for 63 years.

Information provided by Elaine Molloy.


Credit Line

Gift of Elaine Molloy, 2009

Acquisition Date

27 April 2009

Cite this Object


Doll's house 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 June 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Doll's house |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 June 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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