Dollhouses

Miniature dollhouses, furnished with every domestic article imaginable plus family members and pets, have been made throughout the centuries: the earliest examples were found in Egyptian tombs. Made of wood, these creations contain servants, furnishings, and pets, as well as possessions such as boats and livestock. European dollhouses can be traced as far back as the sixteenth century.

The dollhouse has undergone a vast array of changes over time, especially in terms of price range, materials used for construction, and availability. Whereas the dollhouse was once an expensive toy for wealthy people and aristocrats, they have become much more common today.

DollhouseSome of the most prized dollhouses and most delicate miniatures were invented in Germany in the seventeenth century. Many of them were crafted before World War One. Intricately produced by hand, the dollhouse was created – usually from wood – to replicate the home in which the family lived. These first dollhouses were grandly furnished with miniatures of as many of the actual home’s furnishings as could be reproduced, right down to the tapestries on the walls. Whole kitchens were furnished, with everything from teapots and fine china to vegetables.

When World War Two ended and the economy began to recover, the dollhouse quickly gained favor once more, this time spreading through Western Europe. Though they were viewed as toys, they were not “played with” in the same way that children now play with their toys. The tiny replicas of the family and the dollhouse itself were fragile and had to be treated with care.

In America, the popularity of dollhouses was so great that dollhouses began to be mass-produced in factories rather than handcrafted. They were also built on a larger scale to accommodate larger dolls that girls could play with. By the mid-1950s the dollhouse, sold with many of the dolls that were on the market at the time, were made of painted sheet metal, and the interior miniatures were made of plastic.

Dollhouses come in all sizes and shapes today. They can be purchased ready-made and decorated or in kits that can be put together and decorated to the taste of the individuals working on the project. Some people design, build, decorate, and furnish their own dollhouses. Though dollhouses have generally been considered a child’s toy, many adults create and collect them as a hobby, decorating them with time and patience and in the style of a particular period, adding porches, balconies, conservatories, and lighting as it suits their fancy.

Throughout the ages, dollhouses have continued to fascinate and inspire not only children but also adult crafters and collectors from all over the world, just as they did in the years after their invention. The dollhouse can be used to teach, and to stimulate creativity and imagination. Dollhouses are available everywhere and to everyone – regardless of social status, income, and, above all, age.

Just imagine yourself in front of a dollhouse full of miniatures from a favorite time or period and breathe deeply. How gratifying it is to reach to your child beside you and murmur: “Oh, honey. Look what we did.”

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