German Nuremberg Dockenhaus

German Nuremberg DockenhausAn Example of German Nuremberg Dockenhaus
Dollhouses built in the 17th century generally served two purposes. One a miniature dollhouse was a sign of wealth and would sit in the main room of a home where visitors would be received. A dollhouse’s second purpose would be as a visual for the children in the home so they could learn the skills they would need to run a household. Dollhouses built in this period for wealthy adults would have included items made by local craftsmen and the miniature furniture and household items would have been greatly prized. Probably several different guild of specialist craftsmen were commissioned in the building and decorating of the Nuremberg dollhouse. This dollhouse referred to as the Nuremberg Dollhouse was built in 1673 and is one of the few dollhouses that have survived from that period. The German dockenhaus or dollhouse has its date written right on the house’s chimney. Also of note are the stars on the house which were popular on real houses at the time, but were eventually banned because they tended to fly off in times of high wind and turn into dangerous flying weapons. Continue reading German Nuremberg Dockenhaus

Petronella Oortman

Petronella Oortman

A Fine Example of 17th Century European Dollhouse

In the seventeenth century in Europe, dollhouses in the homes of the well to do were actually pieces of furniture. The dollhouse would be part of a cupboard or armoire. Most had legs with cabinet doors to open to the dollhouse interior. These dollhouse cupboards were not for children, they were constructed for the woman of the home as part of an elegant home décor. Men had similar cabinets for their collections of objects d’art.

Amy Mile's Dollhouse

The Belle of Europe
One of the best things about antique dollhouses is that they allow us to see what real houses looked like during the time period of a dollhouse. There are many instances when regular items have not survived and the only way we know about them is to see them in miniature in a historical dollhouse.

This dollhouse was built in 1890 for Amy Miles, a little girl from a local wealthy family. Her dollhouse features miniature furniture and items of the same time period of the house. In the dollhouse, there is a nursery, a schoolroom, one bedroom, a bathroom and a billiards room complete with a pool table, horse prints, and miniature versions of the both of the London newspapers of the time including the Illustrated London News, and the Graphic.
In the very feminine nursery there is ruffled crib, a tiny shadow box complete with teeny tiny furniture, a doll in a walker and another in an intricate highchair. The master bedroom walls are lined in pale pink silk, and the room is inhabited by very elegant and well dressed women. The Amy Miles Dollhouse was provided to the Victoria and Albert Museum for an exhibition in 1915. In 1921, the dollhouse was given to the museum for its permanent collection.

Dollhouse furniture: through the ages

Dollhouse FurnitureDollhouse furniture and other miniature items date as far back as the Egyptians. In the tombs of Egypt five thousand years ago were found miniatures of home furnishings, and other trappings of life of the well to do in Egypt. Since then almost every culture has enjoyed miniatures and miniature furnishings.


16th century dollhouse furniture


In the 16th century in Europe, dollhouse furniture was built in exacting detail by the finest craftsmen of the time. The rooms displayed in the dollhouses or baby houses as they were called, were elegant and every piece of dollhouse furniture was in itself a work of art. We may not have many of the original furnishings of the owner’s homes but we can imagine how they looked from what has been handed down in the décor of the dollhouses. No detail was too small. There were miniatures of just about everything giving us a real glimpse into the lives of the wealthy and titled of the sixteenth century. These dollhouses and their furnishings were not children’s toys but collectible art.

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Dollhouse kits: How to choose for a special child

Dollhouse KitsOur daughter or grandchild or other significant child in your life wants a dollhouse. You have decided to use dollhouse kits to create a masterpiece of a dollhouse for her. So where do you start? What are the criteria for choosing the best dollhouse kit? Here is a simple guide to dollhouse scales and types of dollhouses that are available for your purchase. The one you choose should be based on the age of your child, the types of dolls that your child will be using in the dollhouse, the size of the room it is going into and aesthetics.


Playscale dollhouses


Dollhouses come in a variety of sizes and scales. If your child likes to play with Barbie and fashion model size dolls then you are going to want to buy a kit for what is called a playscale size dollhouse. These dollhouses accommodate dolls up to 12” and are usually sturdy enough for active play. Playscale houses can be made of metal or plastic or wood based. Sturdy wood playscale dollhouses are slightly more expensive than metal or plastic but they are likely to last longer. Most playscale dollhouses are quite reasonably priced. Most fashion dollhouses will also come with furniture. Examples of these types of dollhouses include the KidKraft Savannah dollhouse or the Annabelle dollhouse, the Majestic Mansion dollhouse or the QuickBuild Barbie Scale Townhouse Kit. Most of these dollhouses are quite simple to put together requiring only minor assembly. Continue reading Dollhouse kits: How to choose for a special child

Becoming a Dollhouse Collector

Becoming a Dollhouse CollectorCollecting dollhouses and other miniature items is a very serious hobby. A dollhouse or miniature building or miniature piece of furniture can be a work of art. The hobby is also genderless many collectors and builders of both dollhouses and other miniature items are men. Historically dollhouses were first made as prestigious works that would be displayed in the front room or parlor of the house as a sign of wealth. Then dollhouses were used to instruct girls in the ways of running a household. It is really only in relatively modern time that dollhouses also became children’s toys.


International in appeal


It doesn’t matter where you are in the world you will find miniature dollhouses and miniatures of other buildings and boats. From Europe to China to Australia there are dollhouse collectors, dollhouse clubs, and dollhouse and miniature artisans. Germany in particular is known for their fascination with dollhouses. Many of the fine dollhouses and dollhouse furniture come from Germany. The Gottschalk dollhouses built in the 1800’s are sought after by collectors.

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Choosing wooden dollhouses and playhouses for young girls and boys

Parents who are trying to figure out which dollhouse or playhouse to buy for their preschool or young child need to worry about safety issues, sturdiness, ‘playability’ and pricing. There is a huge variety of wooden dollhouses and playhouses to choose from if you are going to be buying one for your toddler or young child.



In picking a dollhouse for a young child you want to make sure that the dollhouse is not going to have anything dangerous about it. You don’t want to have a dollhouse that is overly ornate with sharp corners and lots of small accessories and furniture items. Go for something simple with only a few rooms and large enough furniture items that they are not going to make their way into a child’s mouth. You also want to make sure that each dollhouse or playhouse has been tested for any type of lead paint or coatings. The Melissa & Doug Company is just one of the dollhouse vendors sold by The Magical Dollhouse that believes in making sure that all their toys meet or exceed government standards and all testing is verified by 3Rd party testing laboratories. Details on all safety concerns and age recommendations can be found on the Magical Dollhouse website on the details section for each product.

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When architects used dollhouses to study environme

DollhouseIn an effort to stimulate interest in ‘green homes” or homes that were environmentally friendly, several organizations created the Green Dollhouse Project. This project was a collaboration of different associations and government organizations including the Coyote Point Museum, Eco Design Resources, Sustainable San Mateo County and RecycleWorks! and others.


The project was also a competition for architects, professional designers and design students. Held in 2005, the competition challenged architects and designers to look beyond creating miniature models but to create a real dollhouse that could exhibited in the Coyote Point Museum, be part of a touring exhibit, and eventually be sold to raise money for nonprofit organizations or donated to child care centers or schools. Continue reading When architects used dollhouses to study environme

A Nostalgic Trip Back in Time

Located on the campus of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, the Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City offers a unique opportunity to travel back in time in miniature. The thirty eight room building is home to the largest collection of miniatures and toys in the Midwestern United States. The collection allows viewers to see the kinds of toys that fascinated children in the 1880’s and 1900’s. Enjoy looking at vintage and antique toy train sets, dollhouses, dolls, and toy cars as you move through the exhibition. In addition to miniatures, one of the most popular exhibits is located in the Marble Games and Gallery Room. This exhibit contains one of the largest collections of marbles on a worldwide basis. Donated by Cathy and Larry Svacina, the collection also provides some hands on activities including using a marble ring and the marble maze.

Billed as the largest exhibit of fine scale miniatures in the world, the miniature collection includes a pair of dueling pistols with a working mechanism and an antique desk with more than 19 secret drawers. Of interest to children, miniaturists, historians and artisans the miniature collection and its intricately crafted furniture and other items is sure to amaze.

One of the most well known miniature artisans whose work is displayed at the museum is Bill Robertson. Bill started his work with miniatures at the age of fifteen after being inspired by the collections of model and miniature boats, street scenes, and planes he saw while visiting the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, where he grew up. His work is in the popular 1:12 miniature scale ratio. His miniatures include miniature scale furniture, tools and architectural details. He generally uses small scale hand tools including small hand planes which he created. Robertson’s miniatures have been on display at the Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City for more than twenty five years.



House of Broel: Antebellum house of weddings and dollhouses

House of Broel: Antebellum house of weddings and dollhouses

The House of Broel draws visitors, prospective brides and grooms, and dollhouse aficionados to its doors located in the historic garden district of New Orleans, Louisiana. The perfectly preserved Victorian home was originally built in the 1850’s by George Washington Squires and then was added on to by William Renaud in 1884 to provide more open space on the ground floor. The location is the perfect place for a wedding specialist, an award winning fashion designer, author, interfaith minister, and dollhouse collector Bonnie Broel to create a museum and wedding site. The first floor of the home is open for those who want to book weddings, receptions and parties. As an interfaith minister, Bonnie Broel can perform the wedding ceremonies in her historic home.  Ms. Broel is the winner of the International Retailer of Style and Excellence (ROSE) award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Fashion Group International. More known for the the lavish weddings and receptions that can be contracted with the Ms.Broel, the “Queen of Weddings,” the House of Broel is not as well known for the dollhouse museum that also resides in the house.

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