doll’s house is a house made in model , to accommodate dolls . Originally intended as a game for children , their construction and collection have also become a hobby for some adults .

The history of modern dolls houses dating back to the thumbnail windows of the xvi th century in Europe that showed idealized interiors. Smaller doll houses, with more realistic interiors, then appeared in Europe in the xviii th century. They were handmade, but after the Industrial Revolution and the Second World War , factories began mass-manufacturing more standardized and cheaper dollhouses.

Nowadays, children’s doll houses are generally 1:18 scale, while adult homes are at 1:12 scale.


Miniature houses containing furniture and people of their size have existed for thousands of years. The earliest known examples date back to the Egyptian tombs of the Old Kingdom dating back nearly 5,000 years . Small wooden models of servants, furniture, boats, cattle and domestic animals were placed in the graves, from a religious perspective.

A Doll’s House of the xvii th century in Nuremberg ( Germany ).

The beginnings of European dolls houses date back to the xvi th century, in the form of thumbnails representing different parts showcases. They showed idealized interiors, containing very detailed furniture and accessories. These showcases, which included architectural details and were filled with miniatures, were only for adults. They were forbidden to the children, not for their safety but not to damage the windows 1 . These windows were trophies and collectibles owned by wealthy women from Holland , England and Germany. who had the means to afford them: fully furnished, they were sometimes worth the price of a real house.

Smaller homes, with more realistic exteriors, such as the Tate house ( Tate House ) appeared in Europe in the xviii th century 2 .

The first European doll houses were unique, made to order by craftsmen. But with the Industrial Revolution , factories of mass production of toys appeared, and produced among other toys dollhouses, as well as furniture and miniatures intended to fill them. These companies include Christian Hacker, Moritz Gottschalk, Elastolin and Moritz Reichel in Germany ; in England , Siber & Fleming, Evans & Cartwright and Lines Brothers (later Tri-ang). At the end of the xix th century, dollhouses were produced in the United States by The Bliss Manufacturing Company.

Until the First World War , the most sought after doll houses and miniatures came from Germany. Notable manufacturers of miniatures were Märklin and Rock & Garner. Their products were sold in Central Europe, but also exported to Britain and America. However, the First World War and the German defeat seriously slowed production and export, which favored the emergence of manufacturers in other countries.

Salon of a doll house in Maine ( United States ).

In 1917 , the company TynieToys in Providence, Rhode Island , began making replicas of old American homes and furniture on a uniform scale. Other US companies were founded in the early xx th century, as Roger Williams Toys, Tootsietoy, Schoenhut and Wisconsin Toy Co. The Japanesealso began making dolls’ houses, according to the German models.

After the Second World War , doll houses were produced in much larger quantities, with fewer details. In the 1950s , commercial dollhouses were painted metal and filled with plastic furniture. These houses were not expensive, so they were affordable for most girls in developed countries who did not undergo heavy reconstruction after the war.


The doll houses are available in different forms, ranging from home made and entirely decorated to the house entirely made to the customer’s choice. There are also houses to mount and paint yourself; the simplest houses can be made of simple boxes assembled together to represent the rooms.

Examples of 1:12 scale miniatures.

The miniatures used to decorate these houses represent furniture, interior decorations, dolls and other objects such as books or clocks . They are commercially available, but they can also be made by hand.

There are miniature fairs organized by different producers, where sellers and craftsmen exhibit and sell their miniatures. Miniature workshops are often organized during these fairs. Of blogs, websites and forums on the Internet bring together communities of collectors and miniatures manufacturers, which also share images of their creations online.


Doll houses in the United States generally have open backs and a closed and decorated facade, while those in Britain often have a front mounted on hinges that opens to access the rooms.

During the xx th century, dollhouses for children were manufactured in various materials, such as metal (generally the steel ), fiber, plastic and wood. With the exception of Lundby, 2/3 scale furniture is mostly made of plastic.

Today’s kit or ready-made homes are often made of plywood or MDF . Some kit houses use thinner plywood and the elements are held together by a system of pins and holes held together with glue . These houses are light and easy to assemble, but need to be painted or covered to look realistic. Other kits are made of plywood or heavier fiberboard, assembled with nails and glue.

Standard scales

Old doll houses rarely had uniform scales, even between the contents of the same house. Companies have created complete lines of miniature furniture in the xix th century, but these products do not always respect a strict scale.

Most dollhouses for children of the xx th century and xxi th century are 1:18 scale and are manufactured by companies like Lundby (in Sweden ), Renwal Plasco, Marx, Petite Princess, T. Cohn (in the United States ), Caroline’s Home, Barton, Dol-Toi and Triang (in Great Britain ). Some manufacturers use the 1:16 scale.

For doll houses for adults, the scale most often used is 1:12. There are also smaller scales, which are mostly used in the United States. 1:24 scale miniatures were made for Marx dollhouses in the 1950s , but became widely available only in 2002 ; at the same time, even smaller scales have become popular, such as 1:48, or even 1: 144, nicknamed “dollhouse”.

In Germany , in the middle of the xx th century, the 1:10 scale has become thanks to the metric system . The doll houses currently produced in Germany are closer to 1:10 than 1:12.

The largest standard size for a dollhouse is the “Playscale” 1: 6 scale, which is suitable for Barbie , Blythe and other dolls of similar size.


The dollhouse of Petronella Oortman by Jacob Appel, dating from 1686-1705.

There are museums devoted to doll houses. The largest of its kind is the Doll House Museum (Puppenhausmuseum) in Basel , Switzerland .

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam exhibits the dollhouse of the wife of a wealthy Amsterdam silk merchant, Petronella Oortman , dating from 1686-1705, who inspired the novel Miniaturist to Jessie Burton . According to the museum, she would have spent more than 20,000 guilders in this house, which was the price of a real house on the canals of Amsterdam at the time 3 . The house has a laundry room , a kitchen and very detailed rooms 1 .

The Tate House , an English dollhouse in 1760 , is on display at Museum of Childhood in London .

Interior of the Queen Mary dollhouse.

One of the most famous English doll houses is that of Queen Mary , made in 1924 by Sir Edwin Lutyens , and currently on display at Windsor Castle . The house contains a plumbing system and functional lights, and contains miniatures representing the most luxurious and modern furniture of the time. Writers like Arthur Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling have made special books for this house, written and bound on a scale 4 .

The castle of Egeskov in Denmark houses the Titania’s Palace , a miniature castle eighteen rooms and lounges built by James Hicks & Sons Irish craftsmen to Sir Nevile Wilkinson between 1907 and 1922 5 .

In Tampere in Finland , the Moomin Museum ( Muumilaakso ) contains a dollhouse themed Moomins created by Tove Jansson . The house, created by Tove Jansson, Tuulikki Pietilä and Pentti Eistola, was donated to the city of Tampere. The museum also contains several miniature pieces containing the characters of Moomin, manufactured by Tuulikki Pietilä 6 .

The Children’s Museum at Malahide Castle in Dublin is home to Tara’s Palace , a twenty-two-piece dollhouse made by Ron McDonnell in 1978 after failing to bring back Titania’s Palace to Ireland . The house contains precious old miniatures 7 .

The doll house of Colleen Moore , Fairy castle , is exposed to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago since the 1950s 8 .

The sixty-eight pieces of Thorne Rooms , each on a different theme, were designed by Narcissa Niblack Thorne and their furniture was crafted by craftsmen in the 1930s and 1940s . They are currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago , the Phoenix Art Museum and the Knoxville Museum of Art 9 .


  1. ↑ a and b ( in ) ” Doll’s house – Rijksmuseum Amsterdam ”  [ archive ] , Rijksmuseum (accessed 27 January 2011 ) .
  2. ↑ ( in ) ” Tate Baby House – 1760 ”  [ archive ] , Museum of Childhood (accessed January 27, 2011 ) .
  3. ↑ “Netherlands: doll houses were not reserved only for girls”  [ archive ] , (accessed February 7, 2012 ) .
  4. ↑ ( in ) ” Queen Mary’s Doll House ”  [ archive ] (accessed January 27, 2011 ) .
  5. ↑ ( in ) ” Titania’s Palace ”  [ archive ] (accessed 27 January 2011 ) .
  6. ↑ ( in ) ” Tampereen taidemuseon Muumilaakso ”  [ archive ] , Muumilaakso (accessed 27 January 2011 ) .
  7. ↑ ( in ) ” Taras Palace Trust ”  [ archive ] (accessed January 27, 2011 ) .
  8. ↑ ( in ) ” Fairy Castle ”  [ archive ] , Science and Industry Museum (accessed January 27, 2011 ) .
  9. ↑ ( in ) ” Thorne Miniature Rooms ”  [ archive ] , Chicago Art Institute (accessed January 27, 2011 ) .

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