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Vintage Dollhouses for Collectors

Updated on December 22, 2017

Doll's houses are toy homes in miniature sizes, and though today's doll's houses are mainly for children, we can still find a great number of collectors of dollhouses who have a passion for miniature collectibles of unique vintage doll's houses.

These quaint items date back over four hundred years. They were crafted carefully and painstakingly by hand, mainly for the wealthy. Building a dollhouse took months, and sometimes years, because of the intricacies involved in building them, and tastefully furnishing their interiors with well-detailed miniature furniture pieces.

A Vintage Doll's House
A Vintage Doll's House

After the industrial revolution and the 2nd World War, they became increasingly mass produced, thanks to the introduction of industrialized hand tools. Consequently, they became more standardized, readily available, and affordable by more people.

Architectural styles and interior design detailing were varied but awesome.

Early western European dollhouses of the 16th century were referred to as baby houses. They were built mainly for cabinet display décor and came with pretty furniture made in tiny rooms. Their interiors spaces were filled with intricately detailed furniture, ornamental furnishings, and interior accessories. The miniature homes even included things like pots, pans, table lamps, and plants,

There were also bedding, cast iron stoves, wash tubs, brooms, and vacuum cleaners.And the houses were filled with miniature dolls seemingly going about their daily household chores.

Dollhouse as Display Crafts of the Past

Doll's houses weren't intended for children way back then, rather they represented decorative conversational objects of playthings for adults to admire or boast about. They were off-limits to children because they represented painstaking works of art, serving as centrepieces, and objects to admire.

Also referred to as a cabinet house, a dollhouse represented trophy collections, with some complete and fully furnished sets worth almost the price of a modest sized home.


Miniature Furniture Tools for Dollhouse Furniture Makers

A 20th century doll's house
A 20th century doll's house

20th Century Dollhouse

The 20th century saw dollhouses being made from a variety of materials like metal sheets (tin litho), fibreboard, plastic, and wood, with the majority of miniature furniture( made for children's toy dollhouses often made out of plastic.

In the 1940s after the 2nd world war, they became mass produced in factories on an increased scale. Unfortunately, they became less detailed, losing the high quality and fine craftsmanship associated with its production in the past.

A typical dollhouse of the 50s was made of painted metal sheets while the rooms were decorated with plastic furniture. This made the cost of purchasing miniature houses very affordable, and happily, a great majority of girls from the developed western countries could own one.

Today, miniature dollhouse kits and fully built dolls houses are typically produced from plywood or medium-density fibreboard.

There are also available systems called tab-and-slot kits, which consists of thinner plywood pieces held together by tabs and slots and bonded with glue, as opposed to the animal glues used centuries before.

With dolls house kits made from heavier plywood or MDF boards, nails and glue are required to assemble them. Contemporary doll houses are usually light-weight, unlike the vintage dolls houses.

And at a fraction of the cost!

They however often require siding, shingles, or other exterior treatments to make them look real and truly vintage.

Many miniature homes in the US today are produced with an open back for easy reach, but with a beautifully crafted façade. And in England, a dolls house is more likely to have a hinged front panel that opens to reveal the beauty of the interior décor.


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    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Thanks FA.

    • profile image

      furniture assembly 6 years ago

      A house collection of dolls are really a great tips to read on

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Hello betherann, i know the victorian dolls houses are what many think about when talking about miniature homes, so it seems a bit 'flogged' nowadays. But the contemporary ones always seem nicer somehow.

      Thanks for the visit and for taking the time to leave a comment.


    • betherann profile image

      Beth Morey 7 years ago from Montana

      I really like the last photo of the contemporary doll house. The Victorian-style houses don't do much for me, but I do like the more modern versions. Thanks for sharing this!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Visited the site G, wish i live remotely around santa Monica. Would love to pay a visit to this museum.

      I always wanted a dollhouse when i was young, but never had one. It used to fascinate me whenever i see one. Now as an adult, i plan to start enjoying this fine collectors piece.

      I'm sure you will both enjoy having one, while she will love her gift to bits.

      Thanks for your visit G.

    • GPAGE profile image

      GPAGE 8 years ago from California

      Really cool viryabo! This will be great for my little girl! Not only for a gift, but for us to do together! AND you reminded me about a great little museum in Santa Monica called "Angels Attic" which features over 60 dollhouses!!

      GREAT idea and great hub! G