Saturday, January 11, 2014

Life in a Doll's House

I've always been fascinated by dollhouses. As a child, I read stories in which pixies or fairies would take up residence in a dollhouse, usually being frustrated by the clunky, out-of-proportion furnishings. The only dollhouse I had was one of those metal jobs that held together with bendable tabs, and I couldn't imagine a pixie being too happy in a tin box, with a molded plastic bed to sleep on. At any rate, I never saw signs of any pixie habitation.

Dollhouses were popular in Regency times, but were a hobby for grown women rather than toys for children. We see that trend today, with the intricate models available, with very expensive furnishings that I wouldn't let a child touch. Miniature things are so intriguing. Some years ago, I found a book about the famous Thorne Collection of Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. The wealthy Mrs. James Ward Thorne spent many years and much money building 68 historically-correct room boxes that are just stunning.

In 1935, the actress Colleen Moore finished a fantastic fairy-tale castle and it soon went on the road for the public to see. My mother recalled her mother taking her into New York City to see it, but Mom was less than impressed. Sure it was incredibly intricate and amazingly furnished, but it wasn't to play with and you couldn't get near enough to touch it or peek closely into the rooms. Since 1949, it has been housed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where it has been undergoing restoration. Wouldn't that be a fun job?

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