Royalty or commoner, young or old, male or female the popularity of miniature collecting has been ongoing for centuries. Doll houses, room boxes and curio cabinet collections enable the craftsman or collector to capture snapshots of moments in history or contemporary time or to enjoy fantasy settings in miniature. It is often the smallest of details that bring these scenes to life. For those collecting today the pursuit of antique miniature accessories can be both a challenge and a joy.
Company wholesale catalogs and consumer retail catalogs provide clues to manufacturers and dates but more often it is the pure aesthetic joy of seeing tiny treasures that keeps us all out there hunting for the perfect accessory.
The types of objects and makers mentioned here barely scratch the surface of the many items both industrially and homemade that were available for use in dollhouses of the 19
th and early 20 th centuries making the hunt for tiny treasures an endlessly enjoyable pursuit for collectors.
Louis & Edward Lindner of Sonneberg, Germany showed toy kitchens complete with accessories as early as their 1840 catalog. Metal kitchenware would continue to be available from numerous German and American companies right through the 1920s. This tin kitchen dates to the mid to third quarter of the 19 th century.
J.D. Schneegas and Söhne (later Gebrüder Schneegas) was a company from Waltershausen, Germany that made dollhouse furniture from the 1840s to the early 1900s. Johann David Schneegass was the nephew of J.D. Kestner and there appears to have been a connection between the two Waltershausen company’s dollhouse furnishings. Schneeegas offered furniture in Biedermeier, Golden Oak and Red Lacquer styles. The marquetry style popularized by André-Charles Boulle in the late 17 th and 18 th centuries was imitated by the use of transfers applied to simple wooden furniture. This company’s dollhouse furnishings were available into the 1910s.
Treenware dishes were made by many wood workers of the Erzgebirge region of Germany as well as regions in other countries. Many sets of these turned wooden dollhouse dishes and tableware were sold throughout the late 19 th and early 20 th century toys retailers. Ca. 1850 catalogs of toy companies from Nuremberg, Germany include a vast array of treenware plates with modeled foods on them as seen on the left in this image. 20 th century companies would offer similar products using cardboard plates such as the one shown on the right.
Soft metal filigree style furnishings were made in France by Simon et Rivollet from the 1890s into the 1920s. These are marked Depose France and/or RS. German-made pieces in this style were also available during the period. The pieces shown here are approximately ½ ” to 1″ scale.
Bliss Manufacturing Company of Pawtucket, RI was founded in 1832. The company produced wooden clamps and screws. By the early 1870s they were also producing wooden toys. They offered their first dollhouse in the 1889 and by the 1890s had quite a sizable line of houses and furnishings. These were constructed of wood and covered with highly detailed lithographed paper which gave them great realism.
Karl Shreiter company from the Erzgebirge region of Germany produced a line of pressed carboard dollhouse furnishing made to look like wicker pieces. His Korbi furniture was often used in Gottschalk dollhouses. It appears to have been made from the 1910s into the 1930s.
Erhard & Söhne of Germany was established in 1844 in the town of Schwäbisch Gmünd, in the Baden-Württemberg area. By the late 19 th century they were making ormolu dollhouse accessories and furnishings. These are highly detailed and beautifully made. Ormolu is a process of gilding metals with gold or a gold-colored alloy. The company offered these items into the 1920s.
Tobacco silks with their colorful oriental rug designs printed on fabric were made as premium giveaways by several companies from about 1875 to 1915. These included The Luxury Cigarette Company of New York and the St Leger Little Cigar company of Maryland as well as others. But these miniature carpets were also given away with products such as coffee, liquor, and baking powder. Many of these have found their way into dollhouses.
A number of companies offered cast Iron dollhouse furniture and accessories, these included J. E. Stevens of Cromwell Connecticut (1867- 1891), Hubley Manufacturing Company of Lancaster, Virginia (1907 – 1965), Arcade Manufacturing Company of Freeport, Illinois (1925 – 1936), Kilgore Manufacturing Company of Westerville, Ohio (1922 – WWII)
Miniature china pieces from the Limoges region of France made in the early to mid-20 th century are popular dollhouse decorative items. These included dishes and statuettes. A series of plates with romantic scenes based on the works of Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732 – 1836) are delightful wall ornaments for 19 th and 20 th century miniature settings. German companies such as Hertwig made these types of items as well and the Limoges items were also copied in Japan.
F.W. Gerlach made wonderful miniature pewter accessories for dollhouses. A company catalog from 1924 indicates that the company was founded in 1815 in Naumberg, Germany and by the 1920s had establishments in Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, London, and Vienna. Their line of miniatures included utilitarian and decorative pieces.
Flora Gill Jacobs
A History of Dolls‘ Houses. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953
Family Dolls’ Houses. Newton: Charles T Branford Co, 1975
Antiques of American Childhood. New York: Bramhall House,1970
Susan Height Roundtree
Dollhouses, Miniature Kitchens and Shops. Colonial Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1996
Doll Kitchens 1880 – 1980. Atglen: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1988
Dee Snyder, various articles for her column the Collectibles in Nutshell News magazine, 1987 thru 1990
Dian Zillner & Patty Cooper
Antique D& Collectible Dollhouses and Their Furnishings. Atglen: Schiffer Publishing,1997
Author – Linda Edward
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