The Vivien Greene Dolls' House Collection by Vivien Greene

The Vivien Greene Dolls' House Collection - Vivien Greene, Margaret Towner

This book, apparently, cannot be called comprehensive, but it clues the reader into the long history of dolls' houses as works of art and later as children's toys. Greene began her collection before WWII, hunting out and rescuing many early examples of houses, dolls, and furniture. Outside of the V&A Childhood Museum and a few other institutions, few entities could offer the timeline that this book does. Of course, like with most everything before Victorian factories mastered mass-production, everything was handmade and unique.

Dolls are not my collection, per se, but I've always loved miniatures as works of art and as playthings. Everything was reproduced in miniature, examples of naive mantel painting in a dollhouse here may be the only surviving example of its type. The same goes for many mundane items scattered through the kitchens and parlors of the houses here. The things that were reproduced in this period, especially the Victorian when these were playthings not curiosities, are remarkable.

I also enjoyed Greene's flights of fancy, which she indulged in when she was a young collector and didn't know any better, or when the house in question was already stripped of its original features, such as with her Bed & Breakfast for Cats. Charming. I can see how if one had the room and the resources a collection of these cabinet houses would be delightful and rewarding.