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.
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?
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’.
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.
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.