A Brief History of Antique Dollhouses

tudor style doll houseDollhouses are timeless, beautiful reminders of childhood for many. These emotionally captivating structures are far more than simple toys to keep kids entertained; they’re historic and sentimental. Many people carry antique dollhouses into adulthood as a passion, and as a reminder of that which they hold so dear to their hearts. Yet some of us wonder, “How did this begin”? When did making miniature homes come into play, and why did this idea stick so well?
Dollhouses are still a hot commodity for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with the rich history and background from which they came. Allegedly, this phenomenon began in the 16th century when Alert V, Duke of Bavaria, wished to build copy of his home for display. His goal was to display his wealth and importance throughout his land. This idea took off in later years, with many prosperous individuals following in his footsteps.
Centuries later, people were making scaled-down, smaller models of their homes, filling them with items and rooms they desired, but couldn’t necessarily afford. During the Victorian era, these houses became so far-fetched and extravagantly built that they became objects of play. Only children from wealthy families would have these “toys,” so it slowly became a sign of security and social status.
Some of these houses were built so beautifully and eloquently, that they’re currently worth thousands, even millions. If you’re curious about their worth today, you can view a few examples of the most expensive dollhouses here.
lilac cottage doll house interiorAmong the many houses in this list is the 16th century dollhouse, worth about $70,000. Trained historians from Wiltshire had re-created miniature models of many castles, mansions and homes. Using over two decades of experience and passion, the husband-and-wife duo created the six-room dollhouse, which includes luxurious wood, hand-painted ceramics and famous Sevres porcelain. The entire thing took more than 10,000 hours to complete!
It’s not too late to get in on the game. Sure, you may not start off with a collectible of that level, but you will get there one day. Begin small, with an antique dollhouse that is in your price range. Once you have your foot in the door, work with someone educated in the matter to learn the value of each intricate detail. Add in antique dolls and accessories, and you’ve found a way to get in on one of the most captivating items in history.
At Gigi’s Dolls, we carry several classic dollhouses and dollhouse furniture items, including intricately designed and older items. Share your favorite antique dolls and homes in our comments section below to get the conversation going.