View Mobile Site

Historic Camden presents ‘World of Miniatures’

Posted: February 16, 2012 10:06 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2012 5:00 a.m.

People have been making miniatures or smaller size replicas of real things for thousands of years.

The tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs included vast stores of treasures as well as miniature wooden replicas of farm animals, household items and toy soldiers. By the 16th century, wealthy Europeans amused themselves with “Baby Houses.” Exquisitely appointed with miniature furnishings, the dollhouses were made in sections so they could accompany the family when traveling. Even miniature trains and planes have been in the marketplace almost as long as their real counterparts.

A diversity of miniatures sure to have broad appeal for hobbyists, collectors and the public will be seen at Historic Camden’s “The World of Miniatures: Dollhouses & Planes -- Toy Soldiers & Trains” exhibit opening Sunday afternoon, Feb. 19 and closing March 4.

Admission to the exhibit is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and military, $3 ages 6-15 and free for children under six. Exhibit hours will be: 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays afternoons, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays-Saturdays, and 2 to 7 p.m. Thursdays to accommodate those who would like to come after work.

Dollhouses have been one of the mainstays of classic children’s toys for years. Kids still love them. To the delight of toy manufacturers, adult men and women hobbyists and collectors have become a thriving industry also.

 Some work only with dollhouses; others prefer room boxes, exotic containers, or a diversity of formats. Purists make everything themselves; others personalize model kits and accessories. Some create in one scale, others switch between 1”, ½”, ¼”, and the micro 1/144” scale. And there are miniaturists who strictly create items for resale to other hobbyists and collectors and those who do commission work

Visitors to the exhibit will get their fill peeking and peering into the some 50 assorted sized dollhouses, room boxes and vignettes on display, the superb creations of the members of the Camden Miniature Club and Columbia’s Palmetto Miniature Club, a chapter of the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (N.A.M.E.). Several of the pieces have garnered blue ribbons at recent SC State Fairs and Charlotte’s annual Enchanted Village Show.

While some visitors will be enthralled to revisit a passion of their childhoods, others will be awed by the diversity of talent and level of craftsmanship seen in these works of art. The variety of themes, from flights of fancy such as a medieval castle and “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe,” to realistic recreations of a Southern plantation home and a tenant farmer’s house -- will appeal to all ages.

Thanks to Hall TV, guests will enjoy a 20-minute video featuring the extraordinary 60 x 25-foot White House miniature built on a 1” scale by John and Jan Zweifel. The replication of each room and its furnishings are done in such detail that you are almost fooled into thinking you are touring the real house!

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Camden Miniature Club will host a Swap & Sell from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the basement of the Kershaw House. Items for sale should attract both veteran and novice miniature hobbyists and collectors. Tables are available to rent for $5 table and registrations are due Feb. 22.

The next Saturday, March 3, at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m., Camden Miniature Club co-founders, Alice Sperry and Bridgett Munn, will host a Make & Take workshop. Supplies will be provided and all ages are invited to make a miniature -- actually minute - Easter egg basket and Easter hat. Each will make a charming memento of a fun excursion into the world of miniatures. Handouts regarding membership to the Camden Miniature Club and Palmetto Miniature Club will be available as well as information regarding where to purchase dollhouse kits, supplies and other hobby-related materials.
An enticing addition to this year’s exhibit is a 14-piece World War II collection of die-cast fighter planes on loan from Max Ford of Camden. Central to the collection is a model of the famous WWII B-17 Flying Fortress “Memphis Belle.” The1/72 scale model has an impressive 17.5” wing span, rotating gun turrets, working flaps, rudder, and bomb bay doors with bomb load. Named after the WWII wartime sweetheart of Major Robert K. Moran, the “Memphis Bell” was the first B-17 to survive a full tour (25 missions) over Nazi occupied territory at a time when few planes returned from their European airborne missions.

Tootsietoy, an American toy company, first introduced die-cast model planes to the marketplace in the 1920s. By the 1950s, major toy manufacturers such as Corgi began producing superior collectible die-cast model airplanes and continue to dominate that market today. Other die-cast WWII fighter planes in the exhibit include a Thunderbolt, Hawker Hurricane, Mustang, Lightning, Warhawk and Spitfire; plus several contemporary Navy fighter jets.

If you want to see model planes airborne, you won’t want to miss the robotic plane flying exhibition hosted by Doyle Allen and some of the members of the Kershaw County Flyers. Weather and wind permitting, it is to be held in the big field in front of the Kershaw at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The KC Flyers are an AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) affiliated club devoted to the interest and enjoyment of radio controlled model aviation. The club meets year round at their flying field on Park Road near Goodale State Park. Visitors are welcome and membership is open (http://www.kc-flyers.com). A small static exhibit of scale radio controlled models including military, civilian and aerobatic aircraft planes will displayed in the exhibit.

Another static exhibit will be an assemblage of electric toy trains from the collections of Camden train buffs Steve Smith and Bob Giangiorgi. Featured will be streamliner engines and tenders in different gauges along with a complete passenger train and books about streamliners.

During the Victorian era, most toy trains were produced in Europe. They ranged from expensive steam engines and clock-work propelled models to pull and penny whistle types.

In 1891, Märklin, a German toy company, revolutionized the industry when it introduced toy trains in more standardized gauges, complete with track sections, clock-driven locomotives, cars and accessories. The pieces varied in price and could be added on to indefinitely. Lionel and other U.S. makers embraced the concept using with electric trains instead.
World War I halted Germany-made imports, and especially Lionel flourish. By the 1950s thousands of toy trains were in production. By the ‘60s, however, cars and planes were in and trains were out. Interestingly, while the children’s toy train market reflected the trend, the demand for model trains for adult hobbyists and collectors began to surge. Today, all three toy train markets back on track so to speak and doing well.

Last of the miniature collectibles on display will be some of the pieces from Bob Giangiorgi’s toy soldier collection.
Military strategists used miniature soldiers to realistically lay out battlefields and plan battle tactics in the 17th-19th centuries. As early as 1730, the Germans were producing two-dimensional flat tin soldiers, which were cast between two pieces of engraved slate. The French manufactured solid round models.

In 1893, British toy manufacturer William Britain revolutionized the production of toy soldiers with the introduction of hollow-cast lead soldiers. They were cheaper, lighter and instantly popular.

Britain’s dominated the toy soldier market until after WWII when metal prices soared and the newly developed plastic came available. The material made for even lighter and cheaper toy soldiers that were also less breakable, which led to the production of sets of plastic toy soldiers packaged for mass market sales.

By the early 1970s military toy soldiers were giving sway to sci-fi action figures and video games. To the horror of the collector, many a childhood collection was tossed in the trash. A cottage industry of small production quality plastic toy soldiers emerged as well as “recasts” using new alloys and old toy soldier molds. Toy soldiers in static parade and ceremonial poses were replaced by realistic looking action figures, which appealed to collectors and war gamers.

Today, toy soldiers range from inexpensive, unpainted plastic bagged sets to quality unpainted and colored plastics models, as well as toy-grade and connoisseur-grade acrylic painted metal models. Currently the most popular periods to collect are Napoleonic, Victorian, American Civil War, World War I and World War II.

Speaking of popular, be sure to cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award to be awarded Sunday, March 4 at 4 p.m.
 “The World of Miniatures: Dollhouses and Planes ~ Toy Soldiers & Trains” exhibit is co-hosted by Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site and the Camden Miniature Club. All proceeds to benefit Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site. For information: (803) 432-9841, hiscamden@truvista.net or www.historic-camden.net. Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, 222 Broad St., Camden, SC 29020 is 1.4 miles on Highway 521 North from Exit 98/I-20.

Interested in viewing premium content?

A subscription is required before viewing this article and other premium content.

Already a registered member and have a subscription?

If you have already purchased a subscription, please log in to view the full article.

Are you registered, but do not have a subscription?

If you are a registed user and would like to purchase a subscription, log in to view a list of available subscriptions.

Interested in becoming a registered member and purchasing a subscription?

Join our community today by registering for a FREE account. Once you have registered for a FREE account, click SUBSCRIBE NOW to purchase access to premium content.

Membership Benefits

  • Instant access to creating Blogs, Photo Albums, and Event listings.
  • Email alerts with the latest news.
  • Access to commenting on articles.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2014 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...