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  • Betty Girardeau

The World in Miniature


As long as I can remember I have loved all things in miniature. I received a wonderful doll house for my sixth birthday, which may have been the beginning of my love affair. I remember spending many, many hours playing with it, rearranging the furniture, setting the dining table with tiny dishes and cutlery, setting up the kitchen with little pots and pans on the stove and various completed "dishes" on the counter and table ready to be served. My house was furnished with some really unique pieces, too. I even had a tiny roll of toilet paper mounted on the bathroom wall. Periodically we would receive a catalogue from a company called "Grandmother Stover's Miniatures." I was particularlyentranced by all the different types of foods that were highly detailed down to the last little thing, making them look very realistic. I had a fully dressed roast turkey on a platter and a very realistic looking latticed cherry pie that came from Grandmother Stover's. Even in the 1950's when this company was in its hey day, these miniature items were pretty expensive, so being able to order from Grandmother Stover was a special treat reserved for birthdays or Christmas. The company, initially headquartered in Ohio, was founded by Jack Stover. He had three daughters, and in 1941 he bought them a doll house and spent $70 furnishing it. In the process he found out that most of the furnishings had been made in Southern Germany by artisans working in their homes. With the help of his mother, Anna, they started making samples of items they would hire others to help make for them. His daughters had always called her Grandmother Stover, so Jack named his miniature company, Grandmother Stover's in her honor. The miniatures were in perfect scale of one inch to the foot, and were so realistic that they also became quite popular with adults hobbiest miniature collectors. By the time the company was closed in the late 1970's Jack had fifteen full-time and twenty-five part-time employees and his miniatures were even being sold in large New York City stores. Today you can find his miniatures on eBay and other websites. My Grandmother Stover miniatures, some of them looking pretty tired and worn (kind of like my version of the Velveteen Rabbit) along with my collectable furnishings, have been given to my daughter for her daughter's dollhouse. But I still love miniatures. I originally became a Longaberger basket collector when they started making miniatures. During my most recent trip to Biltmore, I was enthralled by the exhibit in the conservatory of replicas of several of the estate buildings set along a couple of railroad tracks complete with passenger and freight trains and a trolley, all nestled among the gorgeous conservatory plants and flowers. Those who study people's love of all things miniature believe that its popularity is founded on our desire to be able to achieve mastery and control. But I have always found the world of miniatures to be fertile ground for my imagination. This Alice in Wonderland sort of world conjures up so many amazing possibilities. What fun it would be to shrink myself down in size and climb on that little yellow trolley car and ride the tracks around in the miniaturized version of Biltmore.

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