Dolls Houses & Miniatures - Features
Prams in Miniature
The First Pram
In 1733, English garden designer William Kent created the first known baby carriage for the 3rd Duke of Devonshire's children. Kent created the baby carriage in the shape of a shell so that the baby could sit upright. It was fitted with springs for a comfortable ride and equipped with a harness so that a goat could pull it along.
So this was the first perambulator, and the basic design soon caught on, with baby carriages of all kinds springing up amongst wealthy Europeans. The everyday middle and working classes of the time could never afford such luxury.
Soon, several important changes were made. At first they were designed as miniature horse-drawn carriages, but now they were equipped with handles for parents to push the child along. In the 1840's, royal exposure for the pram occurred when Queen Victoria bought three push-style baby carriages from the Hitchings Baby Stores of Ludgate Hill. These carriages were not the most useful in shape or design, being too tall to be safe, and too unstable to be really useful.
In those days it was royalty that set the fashion, and Queen Victoria had set the trend - anyone who wanted to be part of high society would buy a pram! The names given to prams at this time e.g. Dutchess, Princess, Windsor and Balmoral reflected the royal and high society connection.
Following WW1 the ensuing baby boom opened the market for prams to all but the poorest families. This was when safety took hold, and footbrakes became standard. The bodies of prams were deepened so that children would have more difficulty in getting out! By the 1940's the high sided, large wheeled carriage became the normal pram design. Rubber and plastic parts became more common, replacing the old wicker and wood, and chrome also became more prevalent, creating the expensive image.
By the 1950's prams were a must have for any new parents. By 1965, with the increase in travel, London aeornautical engineer Owen Maclaren listened to his daughter's complaints and realised that she needed something compact and lightweight that could be stored away when not in use, and so the buggy was born.
Pram 1 appeared in the Victorian era and is made of a filigree wire design.
Pram 2 are from the Edwardian era with the launch of Penny toys made in Germany around 1914
Pram 3 This cast iron baby carriage was made by Kilgore Manufacturing in the USA between 1920-1930.
Pram 4 Cast Iron gave way to plastic in the USA now called 'strollers', the American term for pushchair.
Pram 5 Two Kleeware plastic prams from the 1950's
Pram 6 Tinplate pram from the manufacturers Wells
Pram 7 Ohio Art Co. from America with beautiful lithograph designs on their baby carriages
Pram 8 Triang mother and child from their Minic plastic clockwork range
Pram 9 From the Traing 1960's Spot-On range in a range of different colour combinations
Pram 10 Cheaper plastic versions made by Bartons from 1945 made in Hong Kong
Pram 11 Is the 1960's Spot-On pram by Triang in various colourways, photograph at the top of the article.
Pram 12 Is from the Sindy doll in a new larger scale which added detail and accesories to miniature prams.
Pram 13 is from the current maker Heidi Ott who started making in 1976, and included realistic 1/12th scale miniature prams to their range from the 1990's.
Pram 14 These prams are from the children's toys Silvanian Families and Little Tikes from Ohio, USA
Where to Find Them?
- My first was a Silver Cross bought by my husband because I'd never had one as a child!
- Followed that with a number found in the United States
- In the UK from toy fairs, but are finding increasingly difficult to find.
- Ebay is one of the best hunting grounds, but mainly from America.
- Specialist dolls house fairs have custom-made beautiful miniature prams.
This feature was originally published in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine. If you like reading about and collecting miniatures why not buy yourself a copy of the magazine. Better still, take out a subscription so you never miss another issue. For fans of Facebook or Twitter, please use the buttons at the top of the page to share this feature with your miniature loving pals.