Category:Famous Dollhouses

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Britain and Ireland, Early Twentieth Century

The British Isles have arguably hosted the construction of three very famous dollhouses. In chronological sequence, these are:

  • Titania's Palace – constructed between 1907 and 1922 as a privately-funded project, this dollhouse, designed as the home for Titania the Fairy Queen, went on tour to raise money for worthy causes, and was commemorated in sets of postcards by Tuck.
  • Queen Mary's Dolls' House – constructed between 1920 and 1924, and probably inspired by Titania's Palace, this project was planned as a charitable enterprise, in which companies (and writers, and artists) were asked to contribute work, or miniatures of their products to furnish the house. The dollhouse again went on tour to raise money for good causes, and was again the subject of a set of Tuck postcards. It ended up in a special room in Windsor Castle, where it still resides.
  • Mirror Grange (1929) was created by the Daily Mirror as a promotional tool for their Pip, Squeak and Wilfred cartoon-strip characters. Designed most definitely with the previous two dollhouses in mind, Mirror Grange was again sent on tour to raise money for good causes, and was commemorated by a set of Tuck postcards.

USA, Early Twentieth Century

In the United States, silent movie star Colleen Moore (1899 – 1988) used some of the money she earned, and the professional set-designer connections she made as a film star, to create her dollhouse Fairy Castle. Moore's creation occupies a very special place in the hearts of not just dollhouse enthusiasts, as its extravagant architecture is essentially a professionally-designed Hollywood fantasy film set in miniature. Commissioning additional furnishings and detailings for the Castle became an ongoing hobby for Coleen for the rest of her life, and when the Castle ended up in a museum, part of the deal was apparently that Coleen could still come in and play with it when she wanted.

While some Hollywood filn stars spent ruinous amounts of money on huge real houses that later owners couldn't afford to keep in decent repair, so that many of them ended up as ruins and being demolished, Colleen's soaringlt extravagant architectural vision, unconstrained by normal upkeep budgetary considerations, created something that was both more impressive and longer-lasting.

Later Twentieth Century and beyond

Part of what makes these early dollhouse so great is that fact that their owners were trying to do something different. Nowadays, the idea of spending a lot of money to create a "special" dollhouse is less radical, and (due to the great respect given to the ealrier mentioned houses), less likely to get one considered to be crazy. With significant numbers of miniaturists and artisans capable of exquisite work and available for commission work online, a "big" dollhouse nowadays has to be really something incredible in order to be considered notable. Tara's Palace in Dublin was constructed as the replacement for Titania's Palace, and (perhaps unfairly) tends to capture the imagination less strongly. The goalposts have moved.

Size and sheer technical excellence is not enough for a dollhouse to be considered great, it also needs to have something different about it – perhaps a historically accurate rendition of a specific bulding or a type of building that hasn't previously been attempted, or an outlet for someone to express their architectural artistry in a way that would be too expensive or too vulnerable to compromising changes if the design was built for real.

The Astolat Dollhouse Castle (in private ownership, constructed 1974-1987) meets these criteria – over nine feet tall and with an estimated value of over eight million US dollars, it certainly represents technical excellence, but it also represents an architectural flight of fancy that combines striking interiors with a floorplan that builders would likely be too scared to attempt in real life. The Astolat Castle really is something special, and is universally accepted as a worthwhile companion to the earlier "great" dollhouses.


This category has the following 6 subcategories, out of 6 total.

Media in category ‘Famous Dollhouses’

The following 32 files are in this category, out of 32 total.