Sunday, September 20, 2015

Middle class parlour from the Gründerzeit era circa 1890

I found this lovely antique parlour suite in the Sonneberg area of Germany when I was there last spring.  It is one example of the myriad of beautiful toys and dolls that were made in that area for more than three centuries.

There was a doll festival in the Sonneberg area last May and for four days the most amazing items were offered for sale.

Dealers from all over Europe set up sales tables with the most incredible treasures. It was doll house heaven!

This lovely 9-piece parlour has enamel decorations on several of the pieces. Unfortunately the four larger chairs are missing theirs. Still, it is a beautiful and rare set.

I found a picture of a very similar set of furniture in a German dollhouse book and they were referred to as "a middle class parlour from the Grunderziet era circa 1890"
The term Gründerzeitstil refers to a predominant architectural style from 1850 until 1914. In historical context different decades are often also called Gründerzeit. For this reason, the term Gründerzeit is used to refer to several periods; for example 1850-1873, 1871–1890, sometimes 1850–1914 for the architecture, or even just the years 1871–1873.

I bought the wonderful china coffee set from the same dealer. I fell in love with it. It is very delicate and so beautiful.

All of the pieces have blue beautiful flowers, gold edging, and the plates are monogrammed.

The furniture is a large 1/12th scale. I will need a large room to display it to the best effect. I haven't found the right setting yet, but I hope to be able to show you it in place soon.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy the pictures of it on my living room floor.

BTW, the carpet under the table in the first picture is a fancy tapestry matt I found in the gift shop of Princess Sissi's palace in Vienna. I think it suits the set.

Bye for now.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dollhouses in the news: $8.5 Million Dollhouse to Go on Public Display for the First Time

The Astolat Dollhouse Castle will begin a world tour during the upcoming Christmas season to benefit children's charities.

NEW YORKAug. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As reported in the New York Times July 16, 2015, the Astolat Dollhouse Castle, appraised as the most valuable dollhouse in the world for $8.5 million, will go on public display for the first time this holiday season to benefit children's charities including Autism Speaks.
Alan Goncharoff, CEO of the Astolat Dollhouse Castle project states, "Astolat provides a wonderful opportunity to bring this magnificent structure to the world while at the same time helping children in need. It's a win/win."
The hand-made structure contains 29 exquisite rooms along with 10,000 hand-crafted miniatures, paintings, furnishings, jewelry, dolls, animals, cars, and more created by famed artisans from around the world in such great detail that neither a high quality photo or a discerning eye can tell them apart from the full size version. In addition Astolat contains one of the world's foremost collections of antique miniatures that have historical significance as well as great value.

While people think of dollhouses as toys for children, adults often collect miniatures; in fact it was Colorado-based miniature artistElaine Diehl who designed and built the Castle over a 13 year period in the 1980's and modeled it after Tennyson's Lady of Shallot.  She then commissioned fine craftsmen from around the world to build an enormous collection of interior pieces, including carpenters, goldsmiths, glass blowers, and silversmiths. A few of the most notable miniature interior pieces include:
  • A signed drop leaf secretary desk valued at over $5,000
  • A miniature portrait valued at $1,840 painted with a brush containing one bristle
  • A 1949 Jeep Station Wagon, valued at over $3,300
  • A magnificent baby grand piano valued at over $7,000
  • A miniature Bible from 1811 valued in the thousands

Astolat Dollhouse Castle has its own Wizard's Tower, wine cellar, ballroom, library, armory, princess bedroom, and trophy room.  From its copper roof to the faux granite foundation, marble bathrooms, parquet floors, gold gilt trim, charming chapel, and rock wall wine cellar, it is an incredible work of art and craftsmanship.
Astolat Castle is privately owned and has never been on view for the general public; however, it will be on display in New York City this holiday season to benefit children's charities. More details, photos, and video at
Also see: 

Fun Facts
  • Astolat Dollhouse, the world's most valuable dollhouse, weighs between 815 and 890 pounds based on the furnishings chosen to be displayed inside.
  • Astolat was envisioned and engineered by master miniaturist Elaine Diehl over a two year period. Most of her designs were committed to memory. It then took 12 more years to construct with help from specialists from around the world.
  • It takes 2 days and 12 people to dismantle Astolat Dollhouse Castle and 2 days and 8 people to put it back together.
  • There are three times as many objects in storage at any one time than what is displayed in the Castle.
  • During the previous 20 years Astolat Castle has continually been upgraded and new items are always being purchased and commissioned to the highest quality possible.
  • High quality, very small miniatures that replicate full size objects are often easier for your brain to envision. This is because your eyes are often further apart than the miniature being viewed, allowing simultaneous viewing of 3 sides at the same time – called 3D stereotype or stereoscopy.
  • Rarely displayed within the walls of the few museum quality dollhouses of the world are dolls! Any replication of people would give away the superb accuracy of the miniatures.
  • More than 85% of girls in the United States have had a dollhouse at some point in their lives.
  • Before mass production fathers could spend up to a year hand-crafting dollhouses for their daughters. Some of these can be very valuable but most have not survived as they tended to disintegrate quickly.
  • Of the hand full of museum quality dollhouses in the world of this magnitude and value, only Astolat is privately owned.
  • Astolat's inventory of items numbers about 30,000, but less than a third are displayed at any one time within the structure. Items are rotated.
  • Many top quality miniatures and furniture are more expensive to buy or create than their full size counterparts.