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The Dollhouse Museum in Country Living Magazine
In January 2015, Country Living Magazine visited The Great American Dollhouse Museum and photographed a range of houses, producing the article and slideshow shown here.
The Complete Guide to Dollhouses
Make no mistake: The appeal of dollhouses extends far beyond mere child's play. In fact, they first emerged in the 16th century as objects for adults to display diminutive furniture. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, they provided a hobby for wealthy housewives, who used the homes as a creative outlet, decorating each abode one small room at a time. Only in the 18th century, with the advent of industrialization and, in turn, mass-produced toys, did dollhouses become the domain of children. Here, we've gathered some of the most charming exam-ples produced by noted 20th-century makers, from store-bought varieties made for kids' amusement to one-of-a-kind commissions for serious collectors.
The items in this story can be seen at The Great American Dollhouse Museum in Danville, Kentucky!
Lines Bros., Ltd. | Exterior
At nearly 6 feet wide, this circa 1924 Tudor was the largest ever built by the venerable British toymaker Lines Bros.
Lines Bros., Ltd. | Interior
Masterfully designed by carpenters and engineers, the stately house features shrunken versions of then-contemporary floral wallpaper, stucco walls, and mullioned glass windows. Value: $2,000
Converse Company | Exterior
This 12-inch-square house, made in the late 1930s, opens to reveal a single room.
Converse Company | Interior
The details are printed directly onto the wood, a novel technique at the time. Though it shows fading, it's still coveted for its darling original details, including a puff of cotton pluming from the chimney. Value: $200
Marx | Exterior
This piece is a scaled-down example of a 1950s middle-class home.
Marx | Interior
Note the of-the-period carport and his-and-her twin beds in the master bedroom (top left). Constructed of lithographed tin, it also typifies the most-popular mid-20th-century dollhouses: store-bought, metal, and made in America. Today, mint models with original boxes go for $300. Because this one is missing its packaging, it fetches less. Value: $75
Victorian Farmouse | Exterior
The late 20th century saw a return to dollhouses for adults with pieces like this Queen Anne.
Victorian Farmhouse | Interior
Hand-assembled by Oregon artisan Noel Thomas in the 1970s, the detailed nature of its craftsmanship is no small matter: There are traces of soot on the brick chimney and a working chandelier in the dining room. Value: $40,000.
Scaled-Down StyleWe rounded up pint-size versions of our favorite country classics. Look closely: These pieces are so finely crafted they could almost pass for the real thing.
- Cuckoo clock: Cast-metal finials and weights clock in some serious quality. Value: $30
- Sewing machine: Includes hair-fine details such as a moving bobbin. Value: $95
- Spool bed: Wooden spindles were hand-turned by a small-scale lathe. Value: $500
- Farmhouse sink: Made from ceramic, just like its life-size cousins. Value: $15
- Bust: An enameled pewter beauty with crisp carvings. Value: $20
- Windsor chair: Hand-painted spindles distressed for petite pantina. Value: $175
- Stove: Modeled after an actual stove from the 1920s. Value: $225
- Hutch: Filled with dishes from Chrysnbon—a maker that specializes in itty-bitty china. Value: $40
- Dresser: Twelve wee working drawers (with a dress pattern tucked inside). Value: $200
- Farm table: Bring on the small feast! Value: $20
- Wallpaper: MiniGraphics, Ltd. produces patterns with impossibly small repeats. Value: $3
- Floral sofa: Bold fabric makes a big statement. Value: $60
- Writing desk: Worth noting: Dainty, hand-carved legs. Value: $150
- Rocking chair: With a checkerboard seat, this rocker is begging to be perched on a country dollhouse porch. Value: $150
- Artwork: This etching in a gilt wood frame carries the artist's real, but minuscule, signature. Value: $95