I got lost in Linda's booth at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT playing with the doll furniture in the 1950's tin doll house she had on display. I may even go back tomorrow and buy this wonderful tin litho doll house.
Styles of Doll Houses
Litho doll houses were especially popular during the late 1940, 1950s and into the 1960s accompanied by plastic doll furnishings and accessories.
Companies like Marx, Ohio Art, Wolverine etc. specialized in tin toys. Houses resembled the homes of the era, ranches, split levels and the traditional colonial.
Doll houses of the 1940s were made of cardboard, fibre-board with paper covering resembling shingles, brick and clapboard. Wood furniture was common until the 50's when plastic was the new material being used.
The first Marx Colonial Style doll house came out in 1949. In 1957, a six room doll house sold for $3.79. It was a six room house with a Living-dining combination, kitchen, nursery, bedroom, bathroom, utility room, and sundeck. http://www.mckendry.net/DOLLHOUSES/1950s.htm
Doll Houses Come in All Sizes and Prices
On the average you can find typical vintage tin doll houses for about $45.00- 65.00 with or without furniture. There are also plenty of tin doll houses on Craigslist and other on-line sites which are selling for $25.00. Look around before you buy. Sometimes the seller has accumulated a bag of hard plastic furniture which is more valuable than the dollhouse itself. In fact today a lot of dealers sell the plastic furniture (and dolls) separately and usually ask at least $5.00 and more per piece (common items). The dollhouse family is hard to find and when they do show up they are pricey.
When I was writing my second book, one of my photo contributors sent along some pictures of some very fancy and hard to find Marx Toy Company Litho houses that were priced at $200-300. I was in disbelief until I checked around and learned that some of these houses can really get up there in price. Marx doll houses are very popular and were featured in the Montgomery Ward catalogs.
Tips About Buying Doll Houses and Plastic Furniture
When buying these baby boomer favorites, check to see that the windows and doors are intact. Also look for warped pieces, dents, scratches and rust.
Need I say that when you buy one of these tin doll houses you can't be sure you are buying one with the original furniture. Often sellers collect odds and ends and put "sets" together. Companies that made hard plastic doll furniture were Marx, Ideal, Plasco and Renewal. Furniture was made to look like the grown-up styles of the 50's.
Saving a "Lot" of Plastic Doll Furniture
Right now I have a huge bag of plastic doll furniture sitting in my basement. I have saved this bag of furniture for decades. I can remember telling my daughters (now adults) that they needed to be very careful with this doll furniture because these toys were actually "collectibles". Now I don't have the heart to sell them (the furniture, not the daughters).
Little Girls Dreams
Like my children, I loved playing house and arranging the miniature furnishing in the big tin doll house. As a child growing up in a very small apartment, I dreamed of someday living in a dream house just like the one I played with. I hoped for lots of bedrooms, a cute baby nursery, a fireplace in the living room, a couple of bathrooms and a patio with lounge chairs etc.
Now I am dreaming of a condo near the beach and a doll house to play with!
Read More About Tin Dollhouses:
Dollhouse and Furniture Advertising by Dian Zilner
American Dollhouses and Furniture From the 20th century by Dian Zilner
Tomart's Price Guide to Tin Litho Doll Houses and Plastic Doll Furniture
Toy Buildings & Dollhouses 1880-1980 by Cooper and Zilner
*Visit These Terrific Sites
View More Dollhouse Photos
Photos Courtesy of
Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT
For more information about doll houses, junior housekeeping toys etc, be sure to read my books.
C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of Iantiqueonline.com an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro café.
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