Published 17Jan2020. Updated 15Mar2021. This note belongs in group MODELS, subgroup MINIATURES
“It must have snowed tonight!”. The snow is some wet paper towel, run in a food processor for a long time, dried, and then “snowed” through a sieve. Idea here. Kind of “proactive”(?), but rather charming snow. Plus it’s not made from microplastics, like PVC, which play snow often is. I had to shoot several pictures before I realised that I had to brush the snow off the three people. Not to compete with the all year miniatures “Snowed in at Oakworth” or “Winter wonderland” (or even “The old vicarage at Christmas”)..
This page is in praise of the “Day’s end” sculpture by Jane Hart, from the Country Lines Collection by Danbury Mint. Plus trying to show why some of us, like myself, are so attracted to things like this. This is one of my Miniatures pages. As always: Standard disclaimer.
I have made this blog note because my enthusiasm took me when I got the “Day’s End” sculpture in my hands. When I studied the model that I had purchased on the web, based on better than average photos and my own selection criteria, I thought that I should do my share in trying to unveil this one of Jane Hart’s works of art – for my own and your enjoyment. I have a hope that the other about a hundred creations by Jane Hart are as joyful to own as mine.
To Jane Hart for being so sincere and full of depth and having such a sense of humour, and never giving up on detail, but still stopping in time. To Danbury Mint and Michael Shorrocks for staying with the details and not cutting down on them, even if they might not have been certain about the bottom line of that strategy. To the anonymous hands (in China?) that did the actual work and painted sculptures in the thousands. The art of tranquility and sentimental high value becoming the result of (most probably) being in a hurry. Thank you to all!
This started during a Christmas breakfast, my wife and I rediscovered a house from Lilliput Lane. It is small, but very tasty, good to hold and enjoy. We have had it for 25 years. It is “IVY HOUSE”, from 1994. When I later started searching for Lilliput Lane I found it defunct since 2016. Sad. Now, would there be anything like this out there including a locomotive, old or new? Long searching story. Including some hits, like the very nice sculptures with locomotives from Lilliput Lane. For one, the “Age of Steam” series with locomotive only. Second, the same place, “Oakworth”, modeled both in summer and winter – “Passing through” and “Snowed in at Oakworth”. Very cute. But there is no person there that I associate with. Therefore my long searching story ended with a competitor, Danbury Mint’s jewel “Day’s End” by Jane Hart. My only model with a locomotive. And I felt like I was included in it.
The “Day’s End” sculpture resonates with so much in me, and I have become quite fond of it. I therefore felt I had to place it in a plastic enclosure, with the goal to keep it unbroken. However, I still have to hold the model in my hands alone for full enjoyment. If “3D” were an adjective, this model is “most 3D”. More about the box at the end of this note.
I see myself in the above setting. Even with a flashlight, through the plastic. I am not certain whether I am the man cleaning the locomotive after a day’s work – or whether I am the locomotive itself. With so many locomotive miniature models I have enjoyed over the years, this would almost be a viable option. Or maybe I am the man overseeing it all. Or he may be my doctor. But I do feel at home, and I feel safe and secure and well taken care of. I guess it’s this scene that sets the theme of this miniature. Jane Hart certainly triggered my I-need-this (a verb?) when I found it on the web. I did not know exactly what I was searching until I found this sculpture.
There even is someone at home wishing me welcome – while looking over the flowers.
This sculpture is about 17 cm wide, 8.3 cm high and 12.5 cm deep. It weighs 830 grams.
The track continues on the other side of the locomotive shed. But the shed’s innermost part is resin only. Fair enough. It is not a plastic house from Revell or Faller.
The quite nice base of the model is covered by the upper plastic base in my display box. If not, the brass clips would become visible, or I would have to screw into the model. I wanted none of that. Now it would only take seconds to free the whole unit and hold the original model in full.
When I saw the street coming up on the left side I recognised something, passing the corner of the house, to the right, into the courtyard. I don’t know what, for I have always lived in a wooden house, and only seen beautiful houses like this in England, on vacations. Maybe these houses are archetypical. Wooden or not, they sit like stone in our hearts. Even if Danbury Mint is an American company residing in one of the New England’s states, the sculpture certainly is a piece of old England’s mind. The locomotive proves my point, but an Englishman (from Cornwall?) might find other proofs. Preempting some points from below: Danbury Mint also has an address in England proper. That’s where these models originated.
The other house is reached by a staircase from the shore. Coming up there is a low door that would take me to the front of the house, via yet another small staircase (not seen).
Leading to my neighbours when I was little. They had a cat. We didn’t. We all were charmed by her. She was called “Tussa”.
The artist Jane Hart could have left these extra stairs and “a hundred” other details out. But this is what makes this sculpture. Jane Hart must have loved it and didn’t want to leave a small 90% world behind. Like, most of the windows are not black holes, but have curtains. And, what is the man on the ground holding in his hands to reach to the man on the locomotive (Fig.3), who certainly uses some cleaning wool to wipe the engine’s body? When I asked my 11 years enthusiastic Anna it seemed easy; they were two cups with tea. (And why don’t they clean the new, nice three-part, or two-part articulated buses – or the single body buses, in Trondheim – every day? As caring as these two men? Some of these buses are even 100% electric. The company would have their own washing machines for them, I am sure. They don’t need to do it by hand, like our two friends.) The man on the ground has yet another of these bundles on the table. They are white, but black in the center. And what is the blue box on the ground there? And the white stuff with red dots laying by the cleaner’s feet? Looking it over there are some details that look unpainted to me, namely the flagstones in front of the two front court yard doors and the slabs in the three staircases (several pictures). Seen as not painted I guess they best resemble the local sandstone.
The locomotive did not pull a car or wagon with it on day’s end. The ramp is there, but it is empty.
The model locomotive is about 4.2 mm long, buffer to buffer. We can read “5818” on it, meaning that it is a GWR (Great Western Railway) Class 58xx, built after 1933. It has a 0-4-2T wheel arrangement. The locomotive model is very well done, indeed. And in the setting – well looked after. It is equal to the GWR Class 14xx and I think, also 48xx. They are 9.2 m long. This yields a scale of about 42/9200 or about 1/220. This is like Märklin’s Z-scale or gauge!
However, the track is made to look nice, but wide gauge was obsoleted in England in 1892. Who cares, it looks and feels nice. It is even painted silvery on top, resembling a busy track. Good to see.
The enclosure is from IKEA and called “Björnarp”. I think it is obsoleted. It is an acrylic display box that measures 15 x 22.5 x 14 cm. (PMMA acrylic is mentioned here). I made two base boards from two white IKEA 8 mm “Legitim” chopping boards. In the upper I cut a window that fits the miniature’s edges with some margin, in the bottom I cut enough to be able to read the text from underneath. In between I placed two fastening clips that I made from brass, plus some cloth protection of the model. I cut some space for the clips on the underside of the top board; they were not fastened as such. Then I slid the top board over the model. This clamped the clips in between the two base boards. I had bored holes for three copper nails into the top base board, on each side, to hold the unit in place.
Since the two boards got some air between them I also screwed three 12 mm screws from underneath the box with large enough holes in the bottom of the box, so that I could tighten the two bases into each other from below. Then it is possible to lift up the unit with model and both base boards, from the top. This is essential, loosening the unit while holding it upside down I thought a stupid Idea. The fragile model might easily break on the first attempt. I put a copper pin in the sliding top as well to keep small fingers away from the water tower. (Update: I replaced with a tiny screw that does not fall out when the box is turned upside down. (Never trow away consumer electronics if you will ever be in need of free, tiny screws.)) Or, as a seller on the web commented: “sadly one of the men does not have any head, but apart from that it is a nice model.” Sure.
Jane Hart’s Country Lines Collection from Danbury Mint
I bought my sculpture on eBay in Jan2020 and it cost 25 GBP. No original box (in which it would have been placed in an expanded polystyrene frame, I have seen examples). No certificate. If you plan to buy one then make sure that the seller promises to pack it consciously, and even if the pictures should show faults on these old models, contact the seller and ask. Problems may be hard to see on more or less good pictures. There were several out there that were broken. But my seller (Collect on the Web, here (standard disclaimer)) miraculously managed to pack it so that the water tower was still standing when it arrived.
I have not found any trace of this at Danbury Mint’s home page (here) or at the Web Archive (here). I assume these are products from before they even had a web site. Update: now I know that. Not many had a web site in the mid-nineties. See below. But people at eBay are quite active (here). Update 2: I saw at an undated page in WorthPoint mentioned that Danbury indeed had their models presented on the web.
I selected mine because I wanted one (and one only) instead of all the Christmas City Miniatures around. Nothing wrong about them, but I was looking for a small alternative, with no LED lights and no moving parts or sound. And a little locomotive. I am going to keep it all year long just by my desk. And then I wanted one I could become astonished by, over and over. Even moved: from time to time. I certainly did!
However, in my searching I also found several others from the Country Lines Collection in which each contains a different steam engine. Much was sorted when I found a page at WorthPoint that showed 11 in all (like here or wider here). I will not collect them, but they lokk so nice (arbitrary listed below). Update: I have now learned that there were 12 model in this series, and they were launched in January 1999. Therefore one of these is not part of the Country Lines Collection, probably #13:
- DAY’S END
- THE RIVER CROSSING
- THE RAILWAY ARMS
- THE WINDMILL LINE
- THE LITTLE MOUNTAINEER
- STEAMING NORTH
- HILL FARM CROSSING
- WINTER WONDERLAND
- FLYING BY
- SEASIDE SPECIAL
- A GLIMPSE OF THE PAST
- STEAMING INTO HISTORY (*12)
- THE ARRIVAL OF THE 4/45 (*13)
(*12) for National Railway Museum, celebrating that locomotive GWR 3440 “City of Truro” runs faster than 100 mph. Size: 16.5 cm wide * 10 cm high * 8.9 cm deep
(*13) no “collection” mentioned on base?
In a Danbury Mint brochure  another model with a steam locomotive is shown:
- STEAMING WEST (motive from “The West” (USA))
Other sculptures by Jane Hart
I have found other collections as well, like The Country Village Collection, The Farmer’s Journey Collection, RNLI Collection, BBC Last of the Summer Wine and RAF Battle of Britain Airfield by Jane Hart, which would have ©1994, 1996, 2000, MBI and Made in China on some of them. Plus lots of others, not part of a collection. All these as Danbury Mint products.
I have discovered some that look especially nice, for my taste, in addition to the Country Lines Collection. But the problem is that I have not discovered any complete list of them, with pictures. I don’t intend to make any, either!
- BBC LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE, “TIME FOR A CUPPA”
- BBC LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE, “A BALANCING ACT”
- From : “This BBC comedy has entertained us for over 30 years. In this scene, rascal Compo is trying the art of tightrope walking, right in front of Nora Batty. You can imagine the cries of “Go Away! Go Away!”… Actual size is 6” wide by 4” high by 41⁄4” deep. Last of the Summer Wine © BBC. Last of the Summer Wine word mark and the BBC word mark and logo are trademarks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence.”. This does not ring any bell to me, as seen from Norway. But the model looks charming! Plus size: 15.2 cm wide * 10,0 cm high * 10,8 cm deep
- THE VET VISITS
At the Danbury Mint’s Wikipedia page (here) it says that they are a division of MBI Inc (here). Both are American companies. Danbury Mint also has an office in Chessington in the UK (here).
I have now got information that Danbury Mint commissioned around a hundred sculptures over a ten year period, for Jane Hart, in Chessington in the UK. At the WorthPoint page (above) they also showed some original Certificate of Authenticity papers. They were signed by Jane Hart (sculptor) and Michael Shorrocks (Danbury Mint). The highest serial number shown there was 10191.
How were these models made?
From a mail in January 2020 with the Danbury office in the UK I quote:
The sculpture was created in remarkable detail by Jane in modelling wax. A mould was taken from this to create the master model, from which production moulds were created. The sculptures were then cast in a mixture of porcelain powder and resin, with particularly small or intricate components being separately cast and attached. Each sculpture was entirely hand-painted to a scheme specified by Jane.
I see no AutoCAD here, so it is still magic to me. I guess, even with more detail that I hope to receive, it will remain magic. Even if all we humans make start off with a thought, an idea, a feeling. The magic is, many years later, to be able to hold that thought, that idea, that feeling in my hands – and make them mine, with some connection to the originator still being there. Is this why we make all these things and give them to children and grandchildren? Or buy these things, because we want a glimpse of the geniality of the creator?
I think this Wikipedia page may also help a little: Resing casting. Maybe this is closer: Lost-wax casting. But there’s nothing about any flexible negative there. Rubber or silicon? Help!
As mentioned, Jane Hart worked with Danbury in the UK for a ten year period around 2000, and created about a hundred sculptures. By that work she still warms my heart by pure charming sculptures, with details I can’t even describe. A picture is said to cover a thousand words. But for a 3D model, not even ten pictures will do. Thank you, Jane!
Update 13Mar2021. There is a comment from Jane Hart (below).
I won’t forget that day’s end also means that the locomotive is being prepared for the next day.
I have had two adult men being very enthusiastic when the saw the little world in a display box. Maybe stunned is a better description. All ladies like it, but men! 11 years old Anna asked if she could touch it. I just had to open the sliding lid for her soft fingers. 8 years old Jakob wanted to know if I should collect some more of these models. 6 years old Filip wondered what the water tower was. 4 years old Linnéa also had a glimpse of it on her way to something else.
I wish that some Swiss company would make sculptures like this containing electric locomotices from the 1920’ies, with side rods – “steaming” in on a Swiss station! Like the SBB Ae 3/6 II or the SBB Class Ce 6/8 III “crocodile”. Maybe even a Swiss “Day’s End”?
(Side rods, SBB Ae 3/6 II, SBB Class Ce 6/8 III)
- Happy Xmas! Multi Sculptures Mailer for Xmas 2005 by Danbury Mint. A Special Selection of Sculptures from Danbury Mint, all by Jane Hart. The following sculptures are shown in colour: (four with locomotive) STEAMING INTO HISTORY, HILL FARM CROSSING, WINTER WONDERLAND, STEAMING WEST and (seven others) LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE, THE OLD FARMHOUSE, LANDGIRLS – 1940, FLAG DAY, THE OPEN ROAD, THE VET VISITS and AS TIME GOES BY. Plus three phantasy illuminated sculptures
Message for Mark – I am pleased to see that you are trying to find someone who will appreciate these – hope you found someone. I am fortunate to have collected a number of these and feel the same way that these should belong to people who enjoy their special beauty and uniqueness.
Hello, I am Jane Hart. I feel very touched to read the lovely remarks you make about my models, I always put a lot of love and care into each one and I feel honoured that you recognise this through owning yours.
Each model took about ninety hours of work with tiny tools into a type of wax/plasticine. In some cases as with the lifeboats, planes and trains, many hours of detailed research too. Some are based on family experiences; the Land Army model is how my Father met my mother, flying his spitfire low over where the land girls were working, dropping leaflets to invite them to a party at the officers mess. The RAF WW2 model is my father sitting with his dog ‘Jane’, waiting for the call to scramble. Others were my love of the sea, helping to fundraise for the RNLI and a nostalgic look at rural life in days gone past.
I tried as you say to create perhaps a more gentle, innocent world through my imagination and always felt very humbled that other people appreciated my rather idealistic view of the world, thank you. Jane
Dear Jane Hart, thank you for your comment and for sharing those important details! I was really happy to hear from you, and do know that I every day (even just some hours ago) switched on the light on my “Day’s end”. I have it here by my computer. We still have some snow on the ground here in Trondheim, but it’s always green in my miniature! Øyvind. PS. Every word of praise I did in the note is coming from my heart.
Dear Jane, what an unexpected and most pleasant surprise. I never imagined that you will read our comments and know how much pleasure (and tranquility) your creations continue to provide to me and undoubtedly many others.
I am fortunate to have most of the scenes from the ‘country lines’ and the ‘RNLI lifeboats’ collections. I have a wide windowsill where they sit – I always enjoy spending a few minutes in front of them with my morning cuppa – discovering lovely new little details everywhere and every time I look. They look so lifelike – miniature pieces from a perfect world.
Thank you again for the pleasure you have brought us with your creations. I have a new mission now – I must now look out for your plane collection!
Wishing you all the best, Anindya
Thanks for the article and all the details. I am too most impressed with Jane Hart’s creations. I have been very fortunate to have a collection of ‘country line’ models and the ‘sea gull cove’. I never tire of sitting and enjoying their beauty – it’s like she created a perfect world. You cannot sing enough praise of the love and care Ms Hart put in in creating these models.
Yes, that’s true. I have mine by my side here, and do enjoy it a lot! Worth a praise!
If anybody wants to contact Mark Hanson I have his mail address.
Hello, your enthusiasm for these lovely miniature worlds of Jane Hart jumps out of the computer at me!
(Nice case too!)
I am writing because I find myself in the sad situation of having to find a new home for 5 Jane Hart miniatures. This week I am emptying my mum’s house after she died a few months ago.
The models I have here are, “A Balancing Act”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Landgirls- 1940” (Complete with Spitfire!), “Flag Day”, and “Steaming Into History”. All have numbered certificates except “Flag Day”. I thnk you will easily find images of these on the internet but if you want me to send photos, that can easily be done.
If you have an interest in these, I would be delighted to hear from you, as it would be nice to send them to a good new home where someone can enjoy them, now my mum cannot appreciate them any longer. Sadly no chance of accommodating them in our own small flat!
I am at my mum’s house until Saturday 7th March, it would be great if you can get back to me before then. I am not sure what I will do with them if I don’t hear from you but I need to work it out by then!
There are a couple of similar miniatures by other artists too, if you are interested I can send details or photos.
All kindest wishes!