Rare 1962 Marx metal dollhouse — with a fallout bomb shelter

“MARX Sears 1962 #4073
Colonial MANSION with Breezeway and BOMB SHELTER Doll House

Tin-doll-house-Marx-with-bomb-shelterHere’s something you don’t see every day — a 1962 Marx tin dollhouse with a built in bomb shelter — spotted by Eartha Kitsch and featured on her fab blog, Ranch Dressing with Eartha Kitsch. There’s just something about miniature houses that appeals to most people — and this one also appeals to historians because of its rare bomb shelter. A few years ago, even the owner of the Marx Toy Museum had said he had seen only one of these rare doll house designs in his life — and that that the Museum didn’t even have one.


I emailed the seller, who kindly allowed us to show her photos here and also gave us a peek into how coveted this retro dollhouse seems to be is among vintage doll house collectors:

Hi Kate,
Thanks for contacting me on this. I’m more that happy to let you use the listing and link it. I have been selling on ebay for a while and I have never seen a response to a listing like this one. It is incredible the hits I get daily on it and the amount of people watching it. I’ve had several emails from people who have been looking for this dollhouse for 10+ years and others who want to link it to their dollhouse website. People who have these are so excited about their collection and sharing their stories with me and it has surprised many who never knew there was even a dollhouse out there made by Marx with a bomb shelter. It is truly a piece of history and I hope the right person gets this because if cared for it will last forever with the great shape it is in. I currently have over 40 people watching the auction and over 600 have pulled it up so it will be interesting to see what happens.
– sandy3950

From the Ebay listing:

The Holy Grail of Tin Litho Dollhouses.
MARX Sears 1962 #4073
Two Story Colonial MANSION with Breezeway and BOMB SHELTER Doll House


One of the rarest of all MARX houses is this one with the fall out shelter. The house was inspired by John F. Kennedy’s appeal to our nation to be prepared for the worst outcome in our Cold War with Russia. Many Americans built bomb shelters that year as a result. The craze was short lived and the house was a low seller, a real Bomb. The house was only produced for one year (1962) in a VERY LIMITED quantity. Since it was not a big seller it is extremely difficult to find. The house also came with the rare Dutch door in white plastic.  The inside of the house was exactly the same as most colonials, with the exception of the garage being replaced by the bombshelter.



And here it is….. the one room that makes this item a collectors must have. This is Priceless so don’t let it get away. It will only go up in value.



Super Rare features include.
1. Bomb Shelter/ fall-out shelter (has first aid items and things not normally in a garage)
2. Recroom/ gameroom
3. Breezeway
4. COVERED patio-I have not found anywhere. 5. Bay window front with the plastic pieces for the bay window
6. Dutch entry door -It is missing the actual door but has the plastic entry piece.

The graphic on the walls and floors are incredible too many detail to list (see photos)

Marx-dollhouse-interiorAppears to have been used very little if at all. No Rust. All tabs seem to be fine and all pieces attach together. Very colorfull and detailed pieces. There is one small scratch on roof and someone drew with a marker so I cleaned it off best I could. You can hardly see it now and it does not affect the overall look. Especially since it’s on the back side.  There are a couple other tiny scratches in places but compared to others I have seen from the same era this one is a gem!  It is missing the dutch door itself and the piece that goes on top of the breezeway side. It’s not a chimney but not sure what it is. The plastic green patio top does have a small crack in it but it is solid and hard to even see.

Seller Sandy also points to a 2008 story in the Charlotte Observer about the Official Marx Toy Museum. In her listing, Sandy says this was also in the story — although I cannot see it in the source document:

“Prominently missing in his collection is the grand Marx dollhouse that also came with a fallout shelter. ‘They just put that out for a little while, around the time of the Cuban missile crisis, and I’ve only seen one in my whole life,” [Museum owner] Turner apologizes.

There’s currently a take-no-prisoners opening bid of $999. This sold for $6.44 at Sears in 1962! Pretty darn good house appreciation!

Wow — this is truly an awesome little house. Special thanks to Ebay seller Sandy3950 for allowing us to feature this gem of a find.

Just one question: Wouldn’t a real bomb shelter always be below ground?

Let’s hear your home bomb shelter stories, readers!

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  1. JKaye says

    I have to admit that I wasn’t in love with the Marx dollhouse, despite the fact that it was very pretty. I didn’t appreciate the extreme detailing on every surface, dictating exactly what a room was supposed to be used for. If you didn’t align the little plastic furniture up with the floor rugs or wall decor, it was so noticeable.

    The only way my sister and I really had fun with it was to act silly, and put the sofa in the kitchen, the dining table in the bathroom, and the bathtub in the living room. Then the Daddy figure would come home from work and be very confused. “Where’s my supper?” he’d ask. “We’re having it in the bathroom tonight, honey,” Mother would say. “You can wash your hands and sit right down to eat. You can use the toilet as your chair.”

    Lots of giggles at that point — a bathroom joke was very funny.

    (I notice that the baby crib is in the bathroom in this photo, so someone else has the same attitude about playing with this dollhouse, maybe?)

    The biggest drawback to the Marx dollhouse was — Barbie could not fit into it. Barbie was beginning to rule at our house by 1962. We got the Barbie Fashion Shop, probably the next year, and it was in constant use for the next five years or so.

    The Marx dollhouse did not go into foreclosure, however. Eventually my sister moved her troll dolls into it, and they seemed pretty happy there.

    • says

      Loved Barbie, too, from the time I got my first (a red-headed bubblecut) in 1962. Never had any of the structures, but I did have a case. And I remember every time after my friends and I were finished playing, each little shoe and purse and necklace got put away in the drawers and each outfit got hung up, and I never lost any of it (until I moved away from home years later, and they just all disappeared!). Where, oh where did all of those early organizational skills go??
      Of course, I loved my trolls, too. I got the first of those in 1964, and it managed to sneak into my suitcase when my parents took me with them to Europe that year – a well-traveled troll that one was!

  2. Beth says

    FYI – not like it will matter to most but the patio cover does not belong to this model – it also is not attached like in other Marx homes because there are no holes for it- it also is a free standing and not original to the house….also it is miss (besides the door) the coupla-very hard to find item for over rec room

    • Jared Snapp says

      I beg to differ…I’ve seen the Sears Catalog Ad for it…it was actually called a Colonial with Fallout Shelter and it did have the Green plastic Patio Awning showing as coming with the house…I always thought the same as you until I saw the Catalog page…

      • Sandy3950 says

        thank you Jared for making your comment. Yes this model was unique in many different ways and to prove it I found a site with a pic from the catalog an it indeed has the awning. I did explain in the listing it is missing the coupla but to have everything it does have especially the awning still and the condition is rare in itself. I have found a couple others who happen to be lucky enough to own this model but do not have the awning and therefore I guess think it doesn’t come with it. here is the link to a page that has the picture. http://beeskneesdaily.com/sears-1962-christmas-catalog-toys-for-girls/

      • Beth says

        I do not have a 62′ Wish Book to look at but I did check what my “Tomart” guide…it shows none, and they do not mention that it had one, in fact it show the house and makes mention that (in the one shown) only the door is missing. In the “Marx Toy Sampler A History & Price Guide” it also does not say.
        According to other web sites (prior to this listing) they also do not make mention of a plastic roof.

        The coupla also has a weather vain on top.

        • Jared Snapp says

          The Tomart Guide uses some pix of Dollhouses owned by collectors, and the fallout shelter house is one of them…they actually procured those pix from barbigirl’s AllDolledup Site, and she clearly states that they were not complete…you are right about the cupola, they are hard to find, along with the weather vane…the REALLY hard parts to find are the actual shelter furniture….VERY rare…doubt we’ll see any on the market anytime soon…the Tomart Guide is also incomplete and out-dated…I’d rather believe an actual ad of the times, showing it and all it’s parts, than the Guide…I do wish someone would come out with a more complete history of Marx Houses than what is out there now…no fault of theirs, the history is just really scarce…

          • Beth says

            Even for other Marx things it’s really hard to find good info—-some have tried.
            I don’t think the seller is having any problems with this listing and I’m thrilled to see my investment doubled.

            It’s kind of odd to see people’s reactions (even antique collectors) some are still freaked out they made it, others can’t seem to feel it’s rare.

            • Jared Snapp says

              You are so right about that…hard to find any info on the old Marx toys…and there are a lot out there! They made a wide range of really cool toys, but my Wife is an avid marx dollhouse collector, so we’re getting a bit more informed as we go…it’s cool for you that you have the fall-out shelter house, they ARE rare, no matter what some people think, you should send some pix of it, I would love to see it…I have the first bid on this one and will fight hard for it…want to surprise my Wife with it…she has no idea it is up for auction…it will complete her collection…wish me luck!

                • Jared Snapp says

                  Thanks, Diane…you brought me luck…patience and luck paid off! My Wife is going to be so surprised!! Can’t wait till she see’s it…

                  • Beth says

                    Just wondering – since it’s a “gift” you may not know- any thoughts as to where it goes in your home?

                    Will it be an addition to other doll homes or as a stand alone decoration in the living room or in a real bomb shelter? Wondering how it fits into the decor!


                    • Jared Snapp says

                      Well, I had to tell her about it…kinda hard hiding that kinda money from her…LOL I really wanted to surprise her when it showed up at the house and she unpacked it…oh well, best laid plans and all that….

                      Since I told her, She has already picked out a spot right between her two Disney Houses, one from ’49 and a lighted one w/breezeway from ’50…she has a total of 26 Marx houses, counting this one, on three walls and a couple of 6′ tables…this will be her “Crown Jewel”, tho and will command the center shelf…she has pix of all of them in a Yahoo group for Marx Dollhouses…I bet she can’t wait to send pix of this one in! You should go there and join and upload your pix of your house…thanks for the comments, Beth!

                  • Diane in CO says

                    {{{Congratulations Jared}}} It’s so cool how excited you are to give this great collectors’ item to your wife!! Very nice story.

                    We’d love to see all 26 of her Marx houses. Quite an accomplishment I’d say….!

                    • Jared Snapp says

                      Thanks, Diane…she is quite proud of her collection…it gives her a lot of joy, which of course brings me great joy as well!! Check out dollhouses: a list for collectors of tin litho dollhouses and playsets… http//groups.yahoo.com/group/dolhouses… Look for Gaylynn’s Collection…it has pix of most of her houses…it is a fascinating hobby and learning experience for her!

                    • Diane in CO says

                      something’s wrong with that link below, Jared. I even added another “l” in dolhouses and it doesn’t get me there.

  3. says

    I remember my old metal doll house. It was nowhere near as large as this one, but I wish I still had it. I see the metal ones every now and again, but they’re usually in pretty rough shape (dents and rust) for a hefty price.

    I don’t remember playing with the doll house much (maybe I was too young to remember), but later I owned Barbie, Skipper, Ken, none of which I cared much about. Then along came dolls like Chrissy and Tressie (the dolls you pulled the hair to make it longer, turned a knob to shorten it), and I played with those for a short time. I must have been a disappointment to a mother who had wanted a child so badly (had me late in life), and a little girl to boot, and then I ended up more of a tomboy than a girly girl. I hated frilly dresses and dolls. lol

    I grew up on the tail end of the bomb shelter era, but like many families, especially those living rural, we had emergency supplies set aside. It was only natural considering power outages and weather situations. Supplies that the Red Cross suggest for emergency stockpiles today, were a natural part of life at one point, and not something that we were told to do. It was just something you did.

    Anyway….cool doll house.

  4. Marta says

    Wow! We lived in Anchorage, AK, next to Elmendorf AFB during these years. As children, we knew exactly what the ‘DEW’ line (Distant Early Warning) was, and there were huge air raid sirens everywhere. I don’t recall ever having a fire drill, but we had air raid drills ALL the time. I remember being home playing outside once when they went off, and I just froze. My mom was calling me from the back door, and I literally could not make my feet move. She finally came out and snagged me, then we rushed down in the basement.

  5. says

    My parents were building a house in Tulsa OK in 1960. I remember looking at models by bomb shelter vendors wiith my dad for a number of weeks that year. Many were designed for below-ground use. They felt kinda creepy but had poential for fun as seen thru my then 8-year-old eyes. Imagine playing house with all those canned goods!

    Dad eventually decided that those shelters were too small, so he reinforced the concrete block around one interior room in the house (no windows), for our shelter. We actually used it for protection during tornados, a common occurrence in Oklahoma.

  6. Heidi Swank says

    OH MY GOODNESS! This is the exact house that my four sisters and I played with for years! I had no idea that was a bomb shelter. We used it as a garage. I do wonder what happened to it! WOW!

  7. barbara wild says

    I cant believe I have that in my garage….. I always had so much fun with my doll house. Never before have I seen one like this… The memories Thank You….

      • Jared Snapp says

        Yes…we still have it…it is almost complete now, including the rare Dutch Door, we are only lacking the two cots that belong in the Bomb Shelter itself…we are searching diligently for those! And, no…my Wife would not sell it for any amount of money…it is the Jewel of her Collection…thanks for asking tho…


  8. Jared Snapp says

    Wow, Barbara, you still have an old Marx house w/fall-out shelter? You have a true treasure on your hands! You should show us some pictures of it! Do you still have all the furniture and stuff that came with it?

    • barbara wild says

      I do believe so. I am on a mission tomorrow on my day off to look in the box I stored them in so many years ago. I will let all know and I will certainly put some pictures out there also.. Just wondering what else is could be out there. Will know soon enough!!!

      • Jared Snapp says

        Sounds liked a good treasure hunt for sure! Can’t wait to see what you find….should bring back some fond memories at the very least!

  9. Michele DeGroat says

    OMG – my house was built in 1962 and it has a real bomb shelter in the basement! I remember the bomb shelter days!

  10. Trish says

    The house I grew up in and my parents still live in was built in 1962 and has an underground bomb shelter. I was born in November 1962 (the youngest of four kids). I showed this dollhouse to my Mom this weekend and she immediately commented on the air-filtering device. Ours had (still has) a hand-crank built into the wall and I remember it being very hard to turn. She also told me that she’d asked the family doctor to come stay in the bomb shelter with us as she was afraid we’d be down there when I was born. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary!

  11. Becky Dalton says

    My sister and I had one of the bomb shelter houses. After we outgrew it, we took it to our grandmother’s for storage only to find out years later that she had given it away! I remember my Daddy going to Sears & Roebuck to price an underground bomb shelter. He came back saying that Sears was selling them with a three-years payment plan, so if they were not worried about the bomb, neither was he! Also, remember having “Duck and Cover” drills at school, as if that would help.
    Thanks for the memories…wish I still had that house.

  12. Sandy says

    I had the model like this but with a garage instead of a bomb shelter. Now, I wish I had it, but it’s a big toy, so it makes perfect sense that my parents got rid of it. No one has room to store things forever, especially if the things are owned by other people. I had so much fun with this toy — thanks for the happy memories.

  13. wynonna says

    Does anyone know what this ended up selling for?
    My Aunt had the Renwall version of this house, minus the bomb shelter, she sold it at a yard sale for 5 dollars in the mid 90’s

  14. Mary Moessinger says

    Yes the bomb shelters went underground. I have a little paperback book, “The Family Survival handbook” from 1961 with all kinds of information about surviving nuclear attack, and with plans for building bomb / fallout shelters….

  15. Beth Ostlund-Wood says

    I distinctly remember at age ten, during the Bay of Pigs affair, how my parents sat and discussed how to turn our basement into a bomb shelter. They were going to shovel dirt against the basement windows, and fill the outdoor stairway from the basement gameroom up onto the basketball court as well. Dad decided we should get two big empty garbage cans and fill one of those with dirt too, and then we could use the other one as a toilet and shovel dirt onto our waste from the other can. I remember that they were both very worried but tried to appear as if it was all a lark, “We might spend a couple of weeks living in the basement! Won’t that be fun!” but I don’t particularly remember them stocking up an extra groceries. I think they believed that if things went nuclear, it would all be over in a couple of weeks. Either that or they knew that the whole exercise was pointless and no piles of dirt or garbage cans with little shovels was going to save anyone. There were people in our small Iowa town who had bomb shelters built, but when I went over to one of those houses to play, the sight of the roof of the thing sticking up out of the lawn in the back yard filled me with terror. I am fascinated by this dollhouse. Good God, what a time, when a bomb shelter was “normalized” by being included in the design of a little girls’ toy dollhouse. Don’t know whether to laugh or shudder in horror…..

  16. Michele DeGroat says

    I have a 1962 custom built Georgian home on Long Island that has a bomb/fallout shelter built in the basement. It has a Mosler bank-type heavy (thick) metal door, built of cinderblock with 12″ thick of cement overhead. The only owner before us had it built when constructing the house as a result of the cold war fears we all had about Russia and the Cuban Missle Crisis. I too remember the grade school air raid drills out in the hall against the lockers with head on knees and hands behind your head. I wish it added resale value to my home like it does with the dollhouse. Perhaps it will, who knows? Just a conversation piece.

  17. Barbara McHugh says

    I owned this same dollhouse. I even had all the furniture that went with it. I bought it at a rummage sale at an old farm. I loved it, but sadly had to sell it. Seeing this has brought back the thrill of finding this house.

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