I have long wanted one of these prams to restore but even prams needing major attention tend to command a very high price and they only appear occasionally on ebay, RubyLane or other antique sites. So I've seen several go well beyond my reach. In May this year I was lucky as I spotted a lovely little Ponfa pram on RubyLane which needed some restoration but wasn't in terrible condition and was within my price range. It was described as follows:
Vintage French Doll Carriage, Pram, Buggy-Ponfa, Made In France
Showcased here for your consideration is this vintage French Ponfa miniature toy doll carriage in good condition! It still retains the manufacturer's sticker on the bottom that reads "Ponfa Made In France." I believe these diminutive prams were made in the late 1940's to early 1950's. This wonderful little accessory is the perfect foil to display your vintage and antique baby dolls. It measures about 9" tall by 11" long and 6-1/2" wide. It is intricately made with moving parts and is very realistic in its presentation--almost like a salesman's sample. The blue vinyl hood can collapse down or stand up to shade Baby. It is constructed with chrome and metal parts. Little bonded leather straps hold the carriage assembly to the frame, acting as shock absorbers. The whole thing sits on old rubber wheels that turn. Inside the buggy is are a pillow and mattress which are not original to the piece, but will be included. The chassis is in very good condition, but there are some scratches & wear to the painted metal surfaces. The hood and the tires are excellent. Though not from the same era, there is a newer vinyl "nursing" doll included, since she has been on display with the carriage ever since my Mom acquired the carriage many years ago.
|MDM's photo on Ruby Lane of the Ponfa pram|
|MDM's photo on Ruby Lane of the Ponfa pram with hood down|
|MDM's photo of the chassis, showing how the curved strap holders are bent sideways, hence the scratches to the bodywork|
|MDM's side view of the chassis, showing how the chassis arms are too close together at the top, resulting in a lack of tension between the body straps|
|MDM's end view of the chassis, showing the twist of chassis arms|
|MDM's photo of the pram body with the hood up, showing hood framework distortion|
|MDM's photo of inside the pram body, showing how rust free it was - the minor rust marks from scratches in paintwork did not go through to the inside|
|MDM's side view of the pram body|
|MDM's side view of the pram body|
|MDM's hood view of the body showing the small distortion of the hood framework|
My family were charmed by the pram when I removed it from the box and extensive bubble wrap. We soon had it reassembled to see how it looked and began to study its various problems to work out exactly what order to do all the stages of the restoration.
I had done some internet searches to try and find other pram restorations and discovered there was not very much published openly, most restorers don't document the whole process and explain techniques online, especially if they are doing it commercially. As I had explained to the seller, both of us have restoration skills (metal and woodwork) from another line of work, many tools and the workshop. Dismantling and restoring the pram became a two person job simply because my husband couldn't keep away from it - his engineering mind flipped into gear as soon as we started discussing what needed to be done. It would have taken me much longer without his help. I had piqued his interest in this little project and although there have been many times in the past few months when it has had to be put to one side because of daily life, home DIY jobs, family celebrations, visitors staying overnight, my full-time work and voluntary project we have succeeded together in giving it a new lease of life. I have taken photos of most of the stages of work and will publish them in a series of posts in the coming days.
For the other parts in this restoration process see
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 2
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 3
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 4
Ponfa pram restoration - Part 5
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