Elaborate cabinet-style dollhouses (also spelled as "doll houses"), in which the rooms on one side of a structure are exposed like the shelves and nooks of a cabinet, were popular among wealthy and noble-born Germans of the 17th century. These show pieces were designed less for play with dolls than as curiosities, as they were often filled with real miniature pieces of silver, as well as porcelain dishes from Asia. Tiny chandeliers hung from ceilings, working doors with real hinges connected adjoining rooms, and mirrors hung on their walls. Chairs were upholstered, beds were covered by perfectly scaled bedspreads, and wool rugs were laid out on hardwood floors.

Early American dollhouses were largely influenced by their Dutch and German forebears. In fact, by the early 19th century, German companies were exporting a great deal of dollhouse furniture to the United States. As color lithography became common in the Victorian Era, the rooms of dollhouses were often papered with brightly colored wallpaper, while the exteriors sometimes featured patterns resembling bricks. American companies producing dollhouses on a large scale in the first decades of the 20th century include Bliss Manufacturing, Converse Toy and Woodware, Schoenhut, Tootsietoy, and Dowst Brothers.


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