I recently was able to reread Jacobs smaller classic History of Doll Houses, and was struck with the history incorporated in such a tiny volume. The book is about nin inches high, and is done in black and white. This is my second copy, but still retains the dust cover. Jacobs was curator of the Washington Doll House Museum for many years, till about the time she died at age 93 several years ago. She has written larger, color volumes about dolls and doll houses, and they are excellent histories as well. I missed out on one of these at a library sale; an older gentleman was buying it for fifty cents just as I walked in. Bad karma that day.
According to Jacobs, miniature rooms, complete with furnishings and little dolls have been found in Egyptian tombs. Tiny pieces of doll furniture and accessories have been traced to Greece and Rome, so she speculates there must have been tiny house at some point, too.
The fantastic Baby houses of Cabinets of the 17th century are legendary, and the tiny, hallmarked treasures of silver, copper, pewter, even gold, are works of arts in themselves with scores of collectors devoted to them. There are amazing books on miniature silver, alone. Some of these crossover as cabinets of curiosities, and I recommend Cabinets of Curiosites, reviewed on my Memoir and Pym/Bronte Blogs, as well.
Jacobs notes that the first doll house of the type we might be familiar with dates to about 1580, but of course, miniature soldiers and other tiny books and objects are old than that.
She writes the best history of Ann Sharp's Baby House, c. 1691, of anything I've seen. I can't even find a lot of information about the web about it. This house was given by Queen Anne to her godddaughter Ann Sharp. In 1967, when Jacobs wrote the house was pretty much as little Ann left it, nearly 300 years before.
The inhabitants wear name tags, and are precious Queen Anne wooden dolls, and dolls of wax. They are colorful and beautifully dressed, pink and pastels being preominant colors per Jacobs' description. Little girls then must have loved the same color schemes as now.
There are 9 rooms, with a top shelp that held gloves and shoes and other small objects belonging to Ann herself. There are tiny silver pieces and warming pans, a dog-turned spit in the kitchen, though dogs were missing, complete linens, wall paper, inlaid cradles, beds, you name it. It is a study of late 17th century life. The dollhouse is important as a time capsule, but also as proof that these elaborate objects were also toys. Then, as now, there are dollhouses meant to be played with, and others that were collectors items.
Sorry for typos; I don't have spell-check, and my right hand is swelling badly again. Yet, this is my stress relief, and it has been a horrendous week. Working again on final corrections for my book on metal dolls and a novel about to go to the publisher.
Bad bouts of pneumonia-like respiratory ailments have hit me repeatedly, but seem to be gone now!
Went to a train show last weekend, and was struck again by the universal love of miniatures, and of how well trains and models work with doll and miniature collections. Even architechtual models are great. I found many tiny N and HO scale people, and a 5 in. long silver train with working parts and incredible detail for only 5.00. I had similar luck at the Garden show, where I bought miniatures and out door furniture and live plants to create my mini gardens and terrariums.
More about doll houses later, and we will soon progress to dolls of the 18th century.