Did you have a dollhouse as a child? Do your children or grandchildren have one?

Mine was nothing to write home about, but it was special to me. My dad made it out of scrap wood from his garage workshop. It was painted white. Our actual house was gray.

It was a two-level Colonial-style dollhouse; our actual house was a ranch. The dollhouse had six rooms — three up and three down — and a staircase. Our house was smaller and had no staircase.

It had no bathroom, so the dolls had to fend for themselves. Even though my dollhouse was something to aspire to, our house did have a bathroom, thankfully.

In fact, the absence of a bathroom in my dollhouse was not a problem for me when at play, because I was more interested in my dollhouse furnishings and accessories than I was in playing with dolls in imaginary roles of daily life. I liked to move around the china cabinet, place the rocking chair in a bedroom or in the living room, rearrange the kitchen chairs, and so on.

In fact, if I had kept that dollhouse furniture and resold it today, I would stand to make a very good ROI.

While vintage dollhouse furniture and décor items — everything from miniature four-poster beds to tiny ceramic serving platters — are desirable, I would have been sitting pretty if I had kept all those tiny objects that made my dollhouse a home.

These items, if they are contemporary to a dollhouse, can impact the value of a dollhouse significantly when it comes to the market. If you research auction sales for dollhouses only, compared with auction sales of furnished dollhouses, the values are vastly different. Furnished dollhouses bring more cash.

Today, dollhouses of all types — most of which were much more stylish than my dollhouse — are highly collectible. Acquiring some of the most coveted ones will cost you a pretty penny.

In the antiques and vintage dollhouse market today, handmade dollhouses dating back to the 19th century command the highest prices at auction and online. This golden age of dollhouses, circa late 1800s to the early 1900s, prompted many collectors to seek out architectural marvels in miniature for their collections.

Examples from the Victorian period until the World War II era stir collectors’ interest in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

More recently manufactured dollhouses, like vintage examples from the 1950s and 1960s to the present day, were made by toy manufacturers and remain hot collectibles. These lithographed tin dollhouses were made by companies like Ohio Art, Marx, and Wolverine. Most were designed like the suburban houses of the era.

Why are we seeing a revival of the collectible dollhouse? When something hits the age of 100, particularly in the collectibles realm, collector interest piques and market prices rise.

The decade of the 2020s marks the 100th anniversary of the era when British Queen Mary, consort to King George V and grandmother of the late Queen Elizabeth II, was a great dollhouse enthusiast. She had an impressive dollhouse made by the famous British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens from 1921-1924.   

Today, Queen Mary’s dollhouse is in the Royal Collection Trust of Great Britain and is filled with furnishings, lighting, books, tea sets, bedroom sets, etc. Of all the royal collections of art and decorative objects, Queen Mary’s dollhouse is a marvel, and it is one of the objects that attract the attention of tourists from around the globe regularly.

What dollhouses are bringing the most money today from collectors? You guessed it: Barbie Dreamhouses! Mattel Inc.’s cardboard and plastic Dreamhouses made for Barbie and her friends remain some of the most sought-after dollhouses on the collectibles market today.

Levittown-style, mid-century modern dollhouses made in the name of Barbie from the 1960s; A-frame dollhouses from the 1970s with Barbie’s convertible parked out front; and circa-1980s and 1990s Barbie McMansions with elevators have seen an increase in value this year after the popularity and marketing frenzy surrounding last summer’s Barbie movie.


Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning media personality Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide and appears on Netflix’s King of Collectibles and History channel’s The Curse of Oak Island and Pawn Stars Do America. Visit drloriv.com, watch videos at youtube.com/drloriv, or call (888) 431-1010.

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