Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Brief History and Significance of Dollhouses

Cottage Style Dollhouse
Nowadays, many of us consider dollhouses as mere child’s play thing. However, a brief research of the origin of these miniature houses reveals a far better interesting background than one can ever imagine. Dollhouses were not conceptualized as a toy dated back centuries ago, spanning thousands of years these pretty houses significantly change in its function and appearance.

As Early As the Times of Pharaohs

The earliest evidences of what we would call now as dollhouses are found in Egypt—discovered in Egyptian Tombs and thought to be created 5000 years ago. These memorabilia are wooden models of boats, servants, animals, and people that are found in various archeological sites, obviously made for religious purposes. Though the use was quite different in the modern counterpart, it is quite evident that people of the past have found fancy with small models that represent the life in their time.

A Kingly Hobby

It was in the middle of 16th century however that the Duke of Bavaria commissioned craftsmen to build a miniature house (still a subject of debate). Then on, dollhouses including its mini-furniture became a fancy of the wealthiest and became a symbol of social status and good taste. These miniature houses were individually handcrafted from wood and other materials to replicate the newest architecture, mansions, and other popular buildings of the time. The popularity of these miniature crafts spread in Germany that people who cannot afford these intricate crafts created their own version (a “cupboard dollhouse”) that features a regular house. Like a cupboard, it opens in part/s showcasing tiny room complete with furnishings and mini-dolls.

Dollhouse Furniture

The Little Ladies’ Toy

In the middle of the Industrial Revolution, dollhouses started to be mass produced. Though still costly, the function of these miniature houses changed. It soon became educational tools for upper-class Victorian girls who were taught homemaking essentials and domestic life. Germany emerged as the producer of the most prized dollhouses until the breakout of World War I wherein their involvement impeded its production and distribution.

After World War II, the demand rose for dollhouses as girls’ toys. These doll houses were not as intricate as before and made of painted metal sheet filled with plastic furniture. The cost became a lot cheaper that many girls in the western countries were given a chance to own one and use it as an abode for their dolls.

Dollhouses in the 21st Century

Dollhouses are more popular as little girl’s toys, but for some adults it is a sort of a hobby. Many collectors enjoy the opportunity of creating and collecting them for their own upkeeping. Some of dollhouses from the past are displayed in museums that some collectors wait to get auctioned. 

Antique dollhouses became prized possession that enthusiasts will be willing to spend a fortune to own a piece. Many of us might know dollhouses as we know Barbie and Ken; however, only a few understand that its significance is more than just a toy. When we see one, these miniature houses can awaken our imagination, make us reminisce the joy of youth, and can teach us the richness of our history, diverse culture, and taste for design.


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