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Dolls Houses: Child's Play or Just for the Adults?

Sep 3, 2008
To most people dolls houses are designed for the amusement of children or collectors, and serve no real purpose other than to keep one occupied; or, in the case of children, out of mischief. However, just a little research into the history of the dolls house reveals a far more interesting background than one might imagine.

Spanning across thousands of years, the humble dolls house has changed significantly in not only appearance, but also function. The earliest known examples of what we would now call dolls houses were miniature homes, discovered in Egyptian Tombs and thought to be created over 5,000 years ago. Built out of wood, it is believed the models, which included servants, furnishings and livestock, served religious purposes.

It was the 16th century however, which saw the introduction of dolls houses for entertainment purposes. Known as 'baby houses', the models were cabinet display cases made up of different rooms, which were decorated with such things as miniature household items. The design and architecture would have been painstakingly created and they were intended for the sole purpose of adults.

It was mainly the wealthy who owned them, since in those days, the building of a dolls house would have been commissioned by specialist craftsmen. Especially favoured by the mistresses of rich households, guests would bring small presents, such as dolls house dolls, wooden dolls house furniture or accessories, as a thank you for their hospitality.

As time passed, however, the function of the houses changed. Interestingly, they became educational aids for young girls, in order to teach them about the function of a household and to learn domestic skills.

By the mid 19th century, and helped along by the advent of mass production, the popularity of dolls houses soared, and due to their much lower cost, the majority of girls in the western world owned one.

Nowadays, dolls houses are a great gift for children and collectors alike. Their design has advanced a long way since their inception and it is possible to buy them in a range of different options, for example wooden dolls houses, and for a variety of purposes.

Many collectors relish the opportunity to recreate past eras or present events, often opting to build the dolls house themselves. There are also a large number of museums and shops dedicated to the art of dolls houses and their history, which just goes to prove the popularity among the older generations.

However, it is said that dolls houses are a great way to help children develop social skills and confidence at an early age, and it can be argued that the passion many collectors develop for dolls houses stems from early childhood memories of playing with them.

Indeed, dolls houses can be a great way for parents to bond with their offspring, since it is possible to build and decorate them together. What's more, with a wealth of items available, such as dolls house furniture, accessories and dolls themselves, they make a great gift for children.
About the Author
Adam Singleton writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.
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