Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A History of Dollhouses

I received a pleasant surprise today at work. A colleague who knows about my dollhouse hobby gifted me a book she found at a library sale. 

A History of Dollhouses is from 1953, so the photos leave something to be desired, but it smells wonderful! I just love the smell of old books- that sweet, papery fragrance is one of the reasons I love being a librarian.

I love reading vintage books- it's usually because I enjoy the irony or the misinformation in them, which was once believed to be absolute. But this book hooked me on the first page by opening with a short anecdote about the rocking chair's origin. It was believed to be an American innovation, until a child's toy rocker was unearthed in London, amid other items, and people, who had been buried during the plague. Victims of the disease, and their possessions, were buried as soon as possible in order to try and control the spread of the plague.

The author writes that although the plague's victims were decomposed to the point of being barely noticeable, that the items buried with them are often in good shape. The child's rocking chair even had its original seat cushion in tact!

And so, while most people would dismiss a dollhouse as a child's play thing, and some might deign to view them pieces of art, they are historical artifacts. They present a better view of how children and play throughout the centuries, and along with women and racial minorities, children are often deleted from historical accounts. Dollhouses can also reflect domestic history, especially since many dollhouses were actually intended as a pursuit for women, not necessarily children. 

So now within a very short amount of time we have: dollhouses, history, vintage books (complete with vanilla-esque aroma!), forensic anthropology, and a discussion of the history's disenfranchised. 

This is right up my alley!

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