Made in the 1940s belonging to Tineke Rijzinga of Webster’s Corners, everything in the doll diorama, down to the water cooler and tins of coco and tea in the kitchen cupboards are exact replicas of what one would find in any home of that era. Tineke used this diorama as a “practice” kitchen before she was allowed to use the main kitchen in her parents’ house. Note signs of use on the stove especially.
Miniature toys have often been associated with children, but collecting and crafting these pieces has also been a hobby for many adults. The history of miniature homes dates back to the Egyptian tombs, nearly five thousand years ago. Made from wood, those models would have certainly been made for religious purposes.
European dollhouses: closer to what the modern dollhouse looks like today; date back to the 16th century. Depicting idealized interiors, with extremely detailed accessories, these cabinets where not made to be a child’s toy. They were made solely for adults, and essentially off-limits to children. They were hand crafted and uniquely constructed to fit the individual who had it commissioned. Germany was the main producer of these miniature homes, until the Industrial Revolution, when dollhouses began to be produced on a mass scale, and the market for handcrafted dollhouses shrank.
With construction more on a mass-produced scale, the houses became less of a craft hobby among adults, and shifted into toys for children. There was still a market for collectors, yet miniatures were no longer off limits to children.
From a child’s point-of-view, dolls, and dollhouses, especially, were a way for them to interact and explore the adult world, but having the ability to rearrange and make it their own, without any of the consequences. Manufactured and even homemade dollhouses went to great lengths to make the homes be as realistic as possible for children. Houses had an open back, or front, or a hinged roof. Many of the homemade ones were constructed similar to open dioramas, like Tineke Rijzinga’s.