These days, dolls are easily bought from supermarkets or toy shops. They can also be easily disposed if it’s just made in cheap plastic to make way for another plastic doll with a different hairdo and makeup. If we simply think about it, these are just toys that we buy to make kids entertained or have someone to talk to with a whiff of their imagination.
The dolls though in early 1900s like the bisque and celluloid dolls were precious and close to a child’s heart because of their fragility and limited availability. Their importance heightened during the 2nd World War in 1939, when imported goods were extremely restricted and new dolls were no longer available in markets. And during that time in Australia, little girls had no other choice but to take their beloved dolls to a doll hospital.
Sydney’s first Doll Hospital was first opened in Beamish Street, Campsie, Sydney, Australia in 1913 by Mr. Harold Chapman Sr. as a part of his general store. His brother on the other hand has a doll business. The small step began when the rubber bands of the imported celluloid dolls that hold their bodies together were perished and Harold had to repair them. The demand for doll repairs increased after this sudden start and so the business continues to operate until now.
In the 1930s, Harold’s son, Harold Chapman Jr., took over and the hospital was relocated to Her Majesty’s Arcade in Sydney where they repaired items besides dolls, like leather goods and toys. Because of the strict import laws during the war, the services they offer became in demand. They even needed to have 70 employees working in 6 different workrooms.
The increased demand made the hospital relocate again in 1968. That is on Stoney Creek Road in Bexley where they can have a larger building good for storing doll parts.
Now, the Doll Hospital is operated by Harold Jr.’s son, Geoff Chapman. When you visit, you’ll be impressed with how they’ve adapted the real hospital setting. They have doctors who specialize in different doll parts like eyes, arms, and legs. Then, they have wards meant for different kinds of repairs: pedigree dolls, plastic dolls, jointed teddy bears, pram repairs, rocking horses restorations, vinyl rag body dolls, antique dolls, celluloid dolls, ink removal, ceramic statues, and soft plush toys repairs.
Besides doll repairs, the Doll Hospital also has a doll shop which sells regular dolls, rare collector’s dolls, bears, and more. There’s also a doll dressmaker who hand-makes dresses from different eras, like crocheted gowns and lacey dresses.
So do you have a precious antique doll you’ve been keeping for ages? If you want to revive it back to its original, clean (or better) state then rush now to Sydney’s Doll Hospital.
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