A Fascinating History of the Doll’s House

A dolls house is more than just a toy for little girls. It is also an enchanting hobby that many adults love to engage in. Dolls houses have gone through a lot of changes in history. Yes, they have been here for a long period of time, way back into the golden age of the Egyptian rulers and kings.

3,000 B.C.: Ancient Religious Origins

Historians have not yet pinned down a certain point in time when the first miniature house was built. However, history lessons tell us that it was around 5,000 years ago when the ancient Egyptians carved miniature wooden replicas of their dead pharaoh’s favorite things and placed them inside the ruler’s tomb. These included servants, livestock, pets, furnishings, boats, and the like. They were made supposedly to accompany the king in his afterlife.

1500-1600: Lavish Toys for the Big Boys

Members of higher society got wind of collecting small-scale replicas of different things as souvenirs from their foreign travels. Some of them were miniature rugs and tapestries, wooden furniture, and glass-blown statues. They displayed these miniature souvenirs in cabinet display cases built with house details on the exterior by skilled craftsmen they commissioned exclusively. Children were largely restricted from these small-scale houses and were banned from playing with them. It was around the middle of the century when Albert V, Duke of Bavaria appointed a German artisan to create a miniature model of his house, complete with miniature fittings and decorations. This was called the baby house.

1600-1900: Teaching Home Economics

Women of the Victorian era saw the potential of using a dolls house to teach young ladies the proper way of managing a household. Only the daughters of the elite were able to ever get near dolls houses, though, because they were still very expensive to manufacture at that time.

20th Century and Beyond: The Age of Mass Production

When Germany, the only player in the field, found itself in the throes of World War II, it has to cut back on its production and save up its resources for the war. Other countries saw this as a new gate welcoming them into the business of dolls houses. Companies in the U.S., notably Bliss, Roger Williams Toys, and Tootsietoy, and others in Japan began manufacturing dolls houses usually made of plastic and sheet metal. It was only in the 1970s when the cry for specially-crafted wooden dolls houses with architectural details and elaborate furnishings.

Prominent Dollhouses Throughout History

Many prominent miniature houses, such as the Queen Mary Dollhouse which was ordered by King George V of England for his wife, feature real working fixtures. It has real-life electricity that powers the lights, plumbing for the baths and the kitchen, a grandfather clock that chimes, miniature books and paintings from world-renowned writers and artists, and carpets and curtains that are exact replicas of the ones found at Windsor Castle, only smaller. Other dollhouses to note are the 68 miniature Thorne Rooms on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, Titania’s Palace in Egeskov Castle, Denmark, and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

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