My Dollhouse Collection - A Mirror of Life
by Louise Pipher
Dollhouse and miniature collecting is something that fulfills and steals your heart at the same time. I have collected "small things" since I was four years old. Anything small interested me and I ended up with a decorated Valentine heart candy box filled with little treasures.
Somewhere in my twenties when I was a young mom of two little boys - with no daughters in sight (nor did they come along later until I happily had two granddaughters) - I told myself I earned the right to indulge myself in some "girl fun."
With an odd bunch of tiny collectibles the only thing I could think to do was to start a General Store & Antique shop. This was my first venture into dollhouses. I was so excited! My husband thought I was crazy but it kept me busy and my sons were busy playing GI Joe and Tonka trucks so at times all of them left me alone to "play" in my own little girl world that I could control and decorate the way I wanted. It was heaven!
I found my first dollhouse shop and discovered miniature wallpaper!! I stumbled into the world of miniatures and I was hooked!
For Christmas my Dad found a slide he took of me when I was 2 1/2 years old with my first Marx tin dollhouse. We framed the photo and the rest was history as they like to say. I found a replacement tin "Disney" house and filled it with all the Renwal plastic furniture I could find. I had 20 Renwal babies and two sets of parents and it became quickly evident that I needed another tin house for them to move next door in. Marx, Ideal and anything else small filled my houses. I found an old wooden church from a Victorian Christmas village at a garage sale and my mini town, Pipherville, was founded and on its way. Two homes, a church and a General Store.....what else could you want? Soon I discovered wooden Strombecker and Schoenhut furniture and houses; lithographed Keystone houses, Tootsietoy metal furniture and of course the large scale Arcade pieces. I was more than hooked. Addicted was a better description.
The years moved on and I morphed into collecting antique miniatures and dollhouses. I read every book I could find on the subject. My hunt was on. I began to frequent antique malls, antique shops and of course the odd flea markets around the country.
Gottschalk Butcher Shop
Then, in the 1980's, EBAY was born. I felt like it was a "candy shop" for miniature collectors. I bid and won and I bid and lost. I would pout for hours when I didn't bid enough. Now that I think about it I was developing a serious problem. I was becoming a mini-aholic. Finally, I realized that everything comes to Ebay and it will come around again---so if I just waited it would return. It did and I was able to collect some amazing pieces from all over the planet that I never would have found in local shops.
At its largest, my dollhouse room, Pipherville, had about 200 or more most lovely and amazing houses, buildings, shops etc. Not long after the Millennium, I decided to sell off about half of my collection. I had so much fun meeting and selling to other collectors that "swarmed out of the woodwork"---like I had once done---to purchase some of my treasures for their collections. I loved selling and meeting so many wonderful people. After all, miniature collectors are such fun people---we love to play and imagine all the time--how could we not be fun!
Now, I'm "aging out" as I call it and have decided to down-size my home and my things. I will not have the space I've enjoyed all of these years to have such a huge collection. Once again some of my treasures must go back out into the universe to be found and loved by other collectors. I have to admit, it has been hard to part with some of the pieces. Each piece was found one item at a time....each piece holds a memory of good times. It is hard to look at these little items without having some emotional attachment to them. They initially were such a newly found treasure and they lived within the walls of my wonderful dollhouses. Now, it is time to toss them into the air once again to be found and to enlighten another collector's heart. They will find new homes, new villages and new doll friends for sure.
A dollhouse furnished entirely with Ideal Petite Princess
As I wrap each piece with a smile and sometimes a tear, I remember the joy they brought me when I first found them. I have so thoroughly enjoyed hearing back from some of the people who have bought a house or special item from me to see how much they are enjoying what they bought---how they decorated the house or displayed the furniture. What an amazing hobby we have. What joy it brings to us as individual collectors. How many wonderful paths it leads us down as we study architecture, furniture styles, history, art, designs and all the other areas that these little worlds draw us close to. Yes, and they do it with humor too.
I believe the joy of life is learning, sharing and caring---all of these things are promoted by being a dollhouse and miniature collector. We all do differently with our collections. It is amazing fun to see how each person I meet displays, decorates, enjoys and shares their side of this terrific hobby. I also know that staying young at heart is the real key to enjoying life---I collected dollhouses for forty-five years and owned a preschool for thirty years---how can I not have a young heart?
Charlotte House, 1884, England
I am keeping a few treasured houses to help me stay young. But I know that one day they will find their way into the hands of new collectors for someone else to discover, love and care for them. Enjoy and share your collection---it is the best hobby in the world.
Louise Pipher is selling a large part of her collection. If you are interested in seeing what is for sale, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to send you a Sales List. She lives in Northern California and will ship anywhere it can work out.