Homes for tiny people: 18 beautiful doll’s houses

As a child in 1980s Britain, several books and TV shows captured my imagination with their little people and tiny houses. Bagpuss. Tottie – the Story of a Doll’s House. And my very favourite, The Borrowers. Imagine being so small, the whole world being so big. I imagined these people existed, under my floorboards, amongst my toys. My dolls came alive when I wasn’t looking.

By extension, I just love doll’s houses. Being able to see into a whole building is really rather voyeuristic. Like walking down a residential street at dusk, the front rooms brightly lit but the curtains not yet drawn – a brief glimpse into strangers’ lives. But with a doll’s house, you don’t just see it, you get to control it. Every room, every character. And you see everything that goes on – the wealthy lords and ladies up in the drawing room and the lowly cooks and maids below stairs – it’s all a bit Downton Abbey.

Poppenhuispoppen. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA
Poppenhuispoppen. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

dolls2
4 poppen, 2 mannen, 1 vrouw en 1 kind. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

dolls3
4 popjes, kinderen. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

And all those tiny pieces of furniture. How do fat-fingered grown-up human beings even make them? Maybe it’s part of the training programme to become a keyhole surgeon? I mean, look at these minute baskets – who can weave that small?

miniature baskets
Vier miniatuur manden. Source: Museum Rotterdam, CC BY.

On Europeana, I’ve found some really beautiful and clearly well-loved doll’s houses along with some gorgeous furniture, crockery, dolls and clothes to match. I love the old-fashioned ones the best, like this lovely highchair and what’s billed as ‘the world’s smallest medicine chest’.

highchair
Houten miniatuur kinderstoel. Source: Museum Rotterdam, CC BY

L0074481 World's smallest medicine chest in Queen Mary's doll house Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org WF/M/I/SL/36. World's smallest medicine chest in Queen Mary's doll house. Photograph shows a comparison of data-lazy-sizes between the medicine chest and a half penny. WF/M/I/SL/36  Products A - Z Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
World’s smallest medicine chest in Queen Mary’s doll house. Source: The Wellcome Library, CC BY

I was also quite amused to find some sixties-inspired doll’s house furniture – like a pink toilet (we have one just like it in our real house!), a plastic dining set, and retro white dresser.

pink toilet
Roze toiletblok met verlaagde stortbak. Source: Museum Rotterdam, CC BY

sixties table
Ovale tafel en zes stoelen. Source: Museum Rotterdam, CC BY

white dresser
Wit plastic dressoir, met serviesgoed. Source: Museum Rotterdam, CC BY

Here’s a collection of beautifully crafted doll’s houses that you can find on Europeana. I love these ones because the quality of the photographs is so good – particularly those from Deventer Musea, Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

Dolls house 1
Kleding van popjes uit poppenhuis. Source: Amsterdam Museum, CC BY

Dolls house 2
Poppenhuis met miniatuurzilver. Source: Amsterdam Museum, CC BY


Poppenhuis met inventaris. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

Dolls house 4
Doll’s house kitchen with 45 miniatures. Source: Rijksmuseum, public domain

Dolls house 5
Mansion Style Doll House : Do-it-yourself Toymaster. Source: Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg, CC BY-NC-SA

Dolls house 6
Dolls’ House of Petronella Oortman. Source: Rijksmuseum, public domain


Twaalf poppenhuiskamers. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

Dolls house 8
Poppenhuis van twee kamers. Source: Museum Rotterdam, CC BY

Dolls house 9
Poppenhuis op tafel. Source: Amsterdam Museum, CC BY

Dolls house 10
Poppenhuis met klokgevel. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY

Dolls house 11
Poppenhuis “Ria”. Source: Museum Rotterdam, CC BY


Dolls’ house of Petronella Oortman. Source: Rijksmuseum, public domain

Dolls house 13
Poppenkamer. Source: Amsterdam Museum, CC BY

Dolls house 14
Dolls’ house of Petronella Dunois. Source: Rijksmuseum, public domain

Dolls house 15
Poppenhuis met inhoud. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA


Poppenhuis met kruidenierswinkel. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

Dolls house 17
Poppenhuis met meubeltjes. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

Dolls house 18
Poppenhuis met inhoud. Source: Deventer Musea, CC BY-SA

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