Traditional toys that replicate the people, places, and things that children see everyday are wonderful educational toys and provide hours of fun. Real life miniatures are appealing to boys and girls, as well as adults, and have been a part of civilization for thousands of years. The very first blocks, crudely carved dolls, and even miniature dolls houses have been discovered from nearly 5,000 years ago in the tombs and pyramids of ancient Egypt.
These primitive dolls houses suggest different purposes than the traditional toys of more modern times. Featuring miniature furniture, as well as people and animals, Egyptian dolls houses were very lifelike, portraying servants, livestock, and other common possessions. Many believe these toys were actually statues and figurines intended for religious ceremonies rather than play.
Several thousand years later, during the 16th century, talented German craftsman constructed intricate, detailed dolls houses with lavish décor and handmade furnishings. These traditional toys were often custom made as collectible gifts for the affluent and were also popular play things for wealthy children. These miniatures were so popular that, after the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of mass production practices, dolls houses and their accessories were found in children’s bedrooms throughout Europe.
Between the 1500’s and the 1800’s, dolls houses were manufactured by a number of German and English companies, including:
- Moritz Reichel
- Christian Hacker
- Evans & Cartwright
- Siber & Fleming
- And Lines Brothers, later known as Tri-ang.
During this time, the carefully detailed, handmade dolls houses of Germany seen a decrease in interest, at least in the European market. Miniatures from fine companies like Marklin and Rock & Garner were being imported to collectors in the United States, though they did retain some popularity in Great Britain. Dolls houses were not manufactured in the United States until the end of the 1800’s. The Bliss Manufacturing Company was the first American company to produce these traditional toys. Soon after, in 1917, The TynieToy Company began to make miniature replicas of majestic, historic US homes and many other companies followed with their own dolls house ideas. Designs based on the first German miniatures were manufactured by Japanese companies during the early 20th century.
Around the middle of the 1900’s, a variety of new materials became available for production and dolls houses made of plastic, and even sheet metal, were introduced. Through the years, these traditional toys have seen many changes in details, design, and accessories, but miniatures have continued to enchant children of all ages, while warming the hearts of adults everywhere.
Today, dolls houses are still loved by little girls and boys and are adored by collectors. Most wooden dolls houses have been replaced by less costly plastic construction but some classic toy makers still manufacture classic wooden miniatures with intensely detailed accessories. After hundreds of years, these traditional toys are still considered childhood necessities.