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How Mayflower Miniatures Got Its Name by John Alden

John Alden of Mayflower Miniatures

Mayflower Miniatures happened in the early 1970’s, I say happened since it was really the result of a series of coincidences. My partner Maureen and I opened an antique shop called RED MONDAY in Marylebone in 1973. I had a full-time job as a design engineer in the building industry, but evenings and weekends were spent repairing or restoring whatever came along. I was well prepared for this type of work having been taught woodwork at technical college and repaired toys for my two sons when they were young. 

One item that came into the shop was responsible for me becoming involved in the world of miniatures for the next 50 years. It was a dollhouse complete with furnishings, mostly in need of repair. 

At the back of the shop I was restoring some of the items when a customer, Michal Hunt asked whether I could do some repairs for miniature furniture in her shop, “The Dolls House Toys Ltd “ in nearby Lisson Grove. At that time there were few dedicated dolls house shops in the UK but by the end of the decade the market had grown enormously Minutiques, Polly Flinders ,The Mulberry Bush and the Singing Tree to name a few. The famous Titania’s Palace sold at auction for an aston-ishing sum of £135,000 And Dolls House fairs appeared everywhere. 

Having become aware of the potential market I decided to try my hand at it. My first sale a folding clothes horse sold to Minutiques in Brighton for 80p and became a regular item in their shop. In 1979 I started working with the Singing Tree in the Kings Road Chelsea and continued to supply them with a variety of miniature items until they retired in 2004. Then moved on to automata. 

With all of this involvement in the miniatures world my business needed a name. I was a regular visitor to Southampton at that time and discovered that I shared my name with the ships cooper (Barrel maker) on the Mayflower for the voyage of the Pilgrim fathers in 1621 and had reason to believe that we may have been related. We were both skilled woodworkers so why not share a place of employment? 

And so, Mayflower Miniatures was created and survives after about 50 years of toymaking. 

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