HISTORY OF DOLLHOUSES by Barbara Schlichting


First called, ‘baby house’ or ‘cabinet house’, but they were made as a toy, complete with all the trimmings, for adults.

Egyptian tombs in the Old Kingdom were found with them, and that was nearly five-thousand years ago. They had miniature animals, servants, and all the housewares of the day and time.

The dollhouses that we think of today began about four-hundred years ago in Europe. These houses are more in tune with what we’d think of for today.

The first dollhouse, Cabinet House, which were almost like a china cabinet that held only dishes, place settings, etc, and were not built to scale. These were owned by the upper class of society and were handmade.

After the world wars, European manufacturers sprang up, designing them to fit scale. Soon, they cost almost as much as a new home. They were built on a grander scale with multi-levels. Germany was in the forefront before WWII as the lead manufacturer, but the war interfered. By 1950, they were made of painted sheet metal with plastic furniture, which is EXACTLY like what mine looked like!

My series, A First Lady Mystery Series, weaves modern day characters with historical attributes. The first in the series is titled, THE BLOOD SPANGLED BANNER, which features Dolley Madison.
WORDS COULD KILL, which features Mary Lincoln will be published in September.
You can reach me at:

Barb’s Books
First Lady blog



Source: http://www.manhattandollhouse.com/html/dollhouse_history.html





11 thoughts on “HISTORY OF DOLLHOUSES by Barbara Schlichting

  1. Interesting read. Don’t recall my sister ever getting a dollhouse for Christmas or her birthday. Back when I lived in Wilmington, NC, I’d go Christmas shopping with two friends, Jayne and Nancy. Nancy had a niece who loved her dollhouse. And Wilmington just happened to have a specialty ‘dollhouse’ store. I was floored by the intricate furniture that can be purchased. Nancy bought some for her niece. Reminds me of the diorama models one sees at museums like the ones at Gettysburg and the 8th AF one in Savannah, Ga. The latter shows a World War II American bomber base in Britain complete with buildings, planes, vehicles, people — even a couple fooling around in the nearby woods.


  2. I always loved looking at dollhouses, but never had a desire to own one. I will say, their history is a fascinating one. I wish you the best of you wonderful series. Here’s to many more. Doris


  3. This was interesting to read. I did’t have a store bought dollhouse or one that was made from wood. I made my own 2 story dollhouse out of 2 cardboard boxes. I cut out magazine pictures for family picture frames and I used crayons for paint. I made curtains out of old material and glued them to the box. I made rugs from yarn that thread spool knitted and sewed in to circular rugs. It was really cute. Furniture was also made from things I found around the house. I did buy my girls dollhouses and furniture made of plastic just the right size for Barbie. Jenny still has her dollhouse it’s 4 feet tall and all the kids have used it and so did the kids in my daycare. And it is still like new. Yes, nice memories Barb..Thanks.


  4. Just sold my doll house this year, received from parents about 1950. Two story metal with plastic furniture, people, car, etc. Played with it a lot but had daughters and granddaughters who weren’t interested.


  5. I always wanted a big dolls house but only had a smallish one made from thin wood with wood and plastic furniture. My granddaughter has a lovely wooden one but it’s not what i’d call a ‘frilly’ one- basic utility furniture in cubic sort of shapes. I had a lot of fun making a sort of doll house and garden for my daughters -I probably had more fun than them since they were also into ‘My Little Ponies’ and similar plastic toys of the early 1980s which got more of their play time.


  6. I had a Barbie dollhouse and I remember my mother holding onto her lovely little dollhouse — but, after becoming a teenager and planning to move from Iowa to Wyoming, we both sold our dollhouses at a garage sale. We probably should have waited several more years and been paid antique prices for them!


  7. I had a dollhouse growing up and I absolutely LOVED it. So did my mom. We’d go to Tall Mouse (our local craft store) and buy all kinds of things to make tiny furniture, tiny food, and tiny decorations for the house. It was a beautiful dollhouse, very Victorian and elegant. My mom would paint all the tiny things we made. It was such fun. I have no idea what happened to it. I bet my mom sold it at a garage sale or something when I lost interest in it. Sad.


  8. My dollhouse was 2 stories too. I went to my Great-niece’s birthday last year. She got a doll house that was as tall as her. She’s 4. It had a lot of fancy parts, then when you looked on the back side it was a stove. Loved the post and how it related to your books. They sound fascinating. Cher’ley


  9. What fun! I never had a dollhouse but my daughter’s was tin, I think. She loved playing with it and so did I! We had some really good times together when she was little and your post brings back good memories. Thanks!


  10. I have to admit I never thought about the evolution or history of dollhouses. I simple remember enjoying the time I spent playing with mine as a child. My fond memories led to my daughter and later granddaughter having dollhouses of their own. Thanks for sharing this interesting bit of history.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s