Rooms-in-Miniature: Out of the Box

I took another dip into 1:24 scale, but I had a *really* good reason: a boxed Rooms-in-Miniature set, manufactured by Miner Industries of Japan in the mid-1960s!

You might remember my post from a few months ago on my boxed set of the Miner furniture, which featured dining room, bedroom, and living room pieces.While my set included likely every piece of furniture sold, it did not come with any of the accessories, paneling, or room box that I saw in a 1964 ad from a Sears catalogue. Alas, I found one (yes, also on eBay), and it was actually one of three room sets being offered. I could only afford to bid on one, the living room set, although it was a tough choice. My bid was successful, and I awaited my prize.

A small detour: Tiffany, the seller, is a former Design Within Reach proprietor and mid century modern fan. She knew the boxed sets were special when she was helping a friend with an estate sale. These particular boxes are all marked with Montgomery Ward price tags (marked down to $1.97!!!). Like me, Tiffany could not really find out much about Miner, and may ask her local miniature museum in Denver. I know if she finds out more, she will let us know! You also may enjoy a blog posting about the sets, here. Some familiar names are mentioned. :) Thanks, Tiffany!

Once my set arrived, I had a ball opening all the packaging and photographing everything (you've been forewarned; lots of photos coming).

Here's the timeline of the big unveiling, all through pictures and captions:

Yes, marked down to less than $2.00!

I loved the way everything was tucked snugly in its place

Many of the loose items were in their original tissue

The side chair, while lovely, is yellowed from age on the back cushion.

Not quite sure what this piece is for...perhaps a plain shelf for the wall brackets?

Like the chair, these tables have seen better days...likely warped from age and temperature changes.

I realize that this is a very simple structure, but the directions were so clear and easy.

It looked to me as if all the pieces made it; a few had come loose.

The paneling is reversible!

I chose the wood paneling, which slides easily into the tracks of the bottom.

On goes the top track and the struts for hanging!
Green carpeting goes in...

Time for the hanging pegs to go on the tracks

Now onto some decorating! The flowers had mostly disintegrated, but I used some intact ones anyway. The painting did not make it in this time around.

The hanging lamp has a special bracket with a longer peg.

Two sheets of acetate are for the ceiling and front and make for a nice way to display your setup!

Happy decorating!

A note about my posts: I do try very hard to post at least twice a week, but this does not always happen. I aim to communicate daily via the Call of the Small page on Facebook and on my Twitter feed, so join in and tune in, and feel free to email me at call-small(at)call-small(dot)com with interesting news and links about our fun modern mini world!

Credits: All pieces and box are from the living room Rooms-in-Miniature set from Miner Industries of Japan. I am always curious to learn more about these pieces or the company, so do let me know if you can shed any further light on this.

The time it took me: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Japanese Rooms-in-Miniature

These babies need to be cradled!
I am thrilled to now own a lovely Japanese-made miniature furniture set, after what seemed like a long journey!

I first saw the couch and chair and other pieces on Mini Modern's blog back in 2008, when she used them in her Lundby Stockholm, and they were labeled as 1:18 scale Japanese-made "Pacifico." Then, I saw them again on Amy's blog in early 2010, after she found them for $4 in a thrift shop (Amy is a lucky duck!). Then, Susan showed even more of the pieces on her blog earlier this year, when she used them in her Built-Rite house. This time, Susan provided so much helpful information on the set, namely an ad from the 1964 Sears Christmas catalogue that showed the three rooms in miniature for sale ($3.99/room):

Page 71 of 1964 Sears Christmas catalogue - image courtesy of
This information was great to have, and it was also interesting to see that the pieces (and many accessories) were sold as rooms with interior decorating possibilities, with tracks/brackets, wall panels, and wall-to-wall carpeting. It is no surprise that the Irwin Decorator Set is in the same catalogue, five pages earlier (images courtesy as well).

My pieces arrived in the original box, but not in a room box as originally sold. I do wonder if anyone has ever seen these original room boxes or the accessories. The box for the furniture features a cool shadowed dot pattern that gives off an optical illusion of three dimensionality:

I noticed a manufacturer's sticker on the front bottom left corner, which says "Imperial Imports Japan":

There was also some writing on the side: "NY-33":

Perhaps this was some notation for Sears? Not sure. Google searches on Imperial Imports did not turn up anything of note.

The inside of the box showed the traces of elastic that held all the pieces in place:

As it states in the Sears ad, the set is closest to 1:24 scale, which is not normally the scale I use, but some of the pieces are transferable to a 1:16 or even a 1:12 environment. All of the pieces are so incredibly well-made and exceedingly delicate. I am glad I decided to unpack them all alone on a table, cleared of other things.

One of the first pieces I was excited to see was the dining room table -- with an adjustable leaf!

The smallest of the pieces are the turquoise-padded dining chairs, with their wispy chair backs and tapered legs -- gorgeous!

The dresser might be transferable to a 1:12 environment, but definitely can work in 1:16. Again, very delicate handiwork, with working drawers:

The wood just glows on these pieces, even after 40 + years!!!

The infamous chair and couch that first caught my eye back in 2008 did not disappoint, although one bottom strut piece on the couch was broken, the only flaw in the set. I paired them with the various white, shiny-topped tables, so modern:

Here's the front and back of the tables -- lovely!

By the way, the paper pictured here is a Japanese paper from the Paper Source, and the store is now donating 10% of all Japanese paper sales to Japan relief through April 30, 2011. Not that you needed an excuse to purchase some of these great papers, but it is certainly a great incentive!

Next, I played with the modular shelving units, which are so versatile and can definitely work in 1:12 and 1:16 scale, for a variety of purposes. There are open units, and a few with sliding white doors and sliding plexi doors.

The bed and chaise are definitely 1:24 scale. The bedding top comes off from the wooden platform, and both pieces have the same stiff pillows as the living room set, but in a lighter flower pattern (not so much to my liking, actually)

You may have noticed some very cool books in the pictures with the couch and chair -- this is a mini preview of my next post, which will feature the goodies in my swap package from The Shopping Sherpa. Here's a teaser:

She showed my treats here and here. Can't wait to share mine with you!