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Vintage Dolls' Houses for Collectors

Updated on December 29, 2015
A Vintage Doll's House
A Vintage Doll's House

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 doll houses who have a passion for miniature collectibles of unique vintage doll's houses.

Doll's houses date back over four hundred years, and were crafted carefully and painstakingly by hand, mainly for the wealthy. Building them took months, and sometimes years, because of the intricacies involved in building them and tastefully furnishing their interiors with well detailed miniature furniture pieces.

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

The earliest western European doll's houses of the 16th century were referred to as baby houses, and were built as cabinet display décor made up of pretty mini rooms. The interiors spaces were filled with intricately detailed furniture, ornamental furnishings and interior accessories.

The architectural styles and interior design detailing was so awesome, that and the rooms were even filled with miniature household items such as pots &pans, beddings, cast iron stoves, wash tubs, brooms, etc., and were filled with miniature dolls seemingly going about their daily household chores.

Vintage Miniature Dolls House as Display Crafts

Doll's houses weren't really intended for children way back then. Rather, they represented decorative conversational objects of play things for adults to admire or boast about. They were off-limits to children because they represented works of art, serving as centre pieces, and objects of beauty.

Also referred to as cabinet houses, doll's houses represented trophy collections owned by a few affluent women living in the major cities of Europe, who were wealthy enough to afford them. A complete and fully furnished doll house back then was worth almost the price of a modest sized home's construction.

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Dolls House of the 20th Century

During the 20th century, doll's houses were made from a variety of materials such as metal sheets (tin litho), fibreboard, plastic, and wood, with the majority of miniature furniture made for children's doll houses often made of plastic.

In the 1940s after the 2nd world war, doll houses were mass produced in factories on an increased scale, but became less detailed, with the high quality and fine craftsmanship associated with its production becoming a thing of the past.

The 1950s the typical dollhouse was made of painted metal sheets and the interior 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.

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

Contemporary Doll's House

Today, miniature doll house kits and fully built doll's 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 doll's house kits made from heavier plywood or MDF boards, nails and glue are required to assemble them together.

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 realistic.

Many doll's houses 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.

A Contemporary Doll's House
A Contemporary Doll's House


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    • GPAGE profile image

      GPAGE 7 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

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 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.

    • betherann profile image

      Beth Morey 6 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 6 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.


    • profile image

      furniture assembly 5 years ago

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

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 5 years ago

      Thanks FA.

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