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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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….

  6. 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…..

  7. 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.

  8. 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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