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Antique Dollhouses

Antique Dollhouse Antique Dollhouse c. 1760

Early wooden doll houses were for the most part wonderful children's play toys filled with miniature furniture, curtains, people and animals. However, collecting, building and displaying dollhouses over the last 100 years has become a hobby for many adults.

The earliest known examples of a wooden dolls house was found in the Egyptian Pyramids and made for religious purposes. Cabinet dollhouses for adults can trace their history back to Europe about 500 years ago and were handmade, very large and had fancy interiors. Smaller unique antique dolls houses for children with modest interiors and exteriors appeared in the early 1800s.

Early German manufacturers noted for their dollhouses included Moritz Gottschalk, Christian Hacker and Elastolin, & Moritz Reichel. While English manufacturers includes Lines Brothers, Silber & Fleming and Evans & Cartwright. The Bliss Manufacturing Company, Pawtucket, RI established in 1832, made dollhouses in the United States from 1895 to the early 1900s. In addition to doll houses, Bliss produced pull toys, games, and tiny pianos for children.

The Schoenhut Company of Philadelphia began as a toy maker in 1872 and expanding into dollhouses in 1917. In 1920 a company called Tynietoy (Tiny Toy) was founded in Providence, Rhode Island by started by two talented women, Marion Perkins and Amy Vernon. Their wooden doll houses and furniture were made by local craftsman came in a number of styles. Tootsietoy made metal toy furniture and vehicles in the early 1920s and dolls houses in 1925. Tootietoy dollhouses were made of cardboard and were not signed.

Two companies that built a vintage dollhouse that was hard to tell apart were N. D. Cass Co. of Athol, MA and Morton E. Converse & Son of Winchendon, MA. They regularly swapped parts and marketed identical dollhouses. Both were known for there bight colors and for the detailed windows, door and interiors printed onto wood.

The New York firm of McLoughlin Bros. produced a kit called "Dolly's Play House. This kit was made of strawboard, a coarse yellow paper board. The Dolly's was made from 1884 to 1903. One unusual dollhouse is called a Dunham Cocoanut Doll House and it started out as a 1890's packing crate for shredded coconut. The crate was designed to be converted when empty. It was a four story dollhouse and each room was covered with lithographed to look like rooms in a house. In 1900 the R. bliss Manufacturing Co. of Rhode Island mass produced a wide variety of dollhouses made with paper on wood.

One "tramp art" dollhouse was made by American craftsman in the early 1900s was constructed of carved wood from old cigar boxes. Sources for a antique dolls house include eBay, flea markets and from someone you know.

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