Why dolls' houses aren't just for children
You may think that dolls' houses are exclusively playthings for little girls (or boys). But the fact is that, because some dolls' houses have been created with so much care and attention to detail, they have become treasured items for adult collectors. Let's take a look at the reasons why so many grown-ups have become fascinated with the miniature world of the dolls' house.
Firstly, dolls' house collecting amongst adults is a phenomena that has been around for some considerable time. In fact, miniature models of dwellings, complete with scaled-down inhabitants and furniture, are amongst the items archaeologists have discovered in some ancient Egyptian tombs. It's likely that these "dolls' houses" had some kind of religious significance or said something about the status of the person buried there.
The more traditional type of dolls' house that we know today - that is, one created simply for pleasure rather than any symbolic reason - descended from the 'baby houses' or 'cabinet houses' of sixteenth century Europe. These detailed replica houses were intended for adults rather than children, proving that grown-ups have been 'into' dolls' house for a lot longer than kids!
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the mass-production of dolls and dolls houses became possible, and this was when they became popular as a gift for children rather than adults. But none of the attention to detail was lost, and some wonderful examples of historic dolls' houses can be found in museums - this is where, for many people, a love of the miniature world of the dolls' house begins.
Over this period and through to the twentieth century, many dolls' house manufacturers established a reputation for building high quality products. Names like Moritz Gottschalk, Evans & Cartwright, and Lines Brothers (later known as Tri-Ang) became bywords for fine craftsmanship in miniature, and pieces by these and other manufacturers are considered extremely valuable by serious dolls' house collectors.
There are some modern names that have become synonymous with quality in dolls' house manufacture, such as Pintoys and Le Toy Van.
Another reason for the appeal of the dolls' house to adults is the amount of care and attention that can be put into them. Just like a real house, the miniature version can always benefit from a new item of furniture or a lick of paint on the bedroom wall. Collectors' can spend a lot of time and effort making sure the look and feel of their dolls' house is just right, and there is something quite addictive about lavishing that much attention to detail on each room.
This is particularly the case with dolls' house that are replicas of homes from a particular place or period of history. After all, if you're going to recreate something, you want to be as accurate as possible! Many collectors even create their own dolls' house furniture and accessories, from furniture and fittings down to tiny items of food for the kitchen! Some even make and sell miniature items to those dolls' house collectors who may not be so artistically inclined.
So, you're never 'too grown-up' to start collecting dolls' houses. In fact, in many ways it's a hobby that has more to offer adults than children!
If you are an adult collector of dolls' houses, and can think of even more reasons to love the hobby than the ones I've included here, please let me know with a comment - I'll be happy to add them.