8 Amazing Dollhouses From Around the World

A dollhouse in the Frans Hals Museum
A dollhouse in the Frans Hals Museum

While we now think of dollhouses as kids’ stuff, for the wealthy Germans and Dutch of the 16th and 17th centuries they were more like cabinets of curiosities, filled with precious woods and metals and hand-crafted items made by skilled artists. The European tradition influenced British and American dollhouses, which are still being made with astounding levels of detail, not to mention an astounding concentration of resources. Below, eight of the most amazing from around the world:

1. ASTOLAT DOLLHOUSE CASTLE 

Designed by Colorado miniaturist Elaine Diehl in the 1980s, this miniature home was modeled after the castle in Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Lady of the Shallot.” Valued at $8.5 million—and said to be the most expensive dollhouse ever—the tiny castle features 29 rooms filled with thousands of perfectly-wrought shrunken items, including rare books, miniature cars, pieces of jewelry, musical instruments, and even a mini-Dalmatian snoozing by the front entrance. It even has its own ballroom and wine cellar. And it’s now on view in New York City

2. TITANIA'S PALACE

Located in the magnificent Egeskov Castle in Denmark, Titania's Palace was created by the British army officer Sir Nevile Wilkinson as a gift for his daughter, Gwendolen, to serve as a home for the fairies she claimed to have seen in the garden. The dollhouse features 18 rooms, including a throne room, a nursery, a chapel complete with organ, and a royal dining room. Gwendolen was an adult by the time the dollhouse was completed, but Wilkinson exhibited the dollhouse (which was built by Irish craftsmen) around the world to raise funds for children’s charities. You can watch a 1928 video of Wilkinson presenting the palace, or a far more recent video in Danish with English subtitles below:

3. SARA ROTHÉ DOLLHOUSE

mickeymousestudio, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Wealthy Amsterdam merchant’s wife Sara Rothé created this 11-room dollhouse in 1:10 scale, offering a glimpse of the furniture and decoration you might find inside a real 18th-century canal-side mansion. It’s now on display at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands—also home to a dollhouse “collage” exhibit featuring 71 rooms from 17th and 18th century dollhouses. A second dollhouse Rothé constructed is on display at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. 

4. CHATEAU ANTOINETTE

Architectural historians and miniaturists Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers created this 6-room, 16th-century dollhouse for a Californian collector with a passionate interest in Marie Antoinette. Only 42 inches high, the chateau is a pastiche of places associated with Antoinette during her life, and is filled with furniture and decorations made of crystal, gold, and silver. The larger chandeliers cost over a thousand British pounds. Mulvany and Rogers have also miniaturized Versailles, Buckingham Palace, Hogwarts, Sans Souci, and several other astonishing buildings from around the globe. 

5. HUGUETTE CLARK’S JAPANESE DOLLHOUSE

Reclusive heiress Huguette Clark collected dolls by the hundreds, and commissioned tiny dollhouse models of Japanese temples, castles, teahouses, cake shops, and other buildings. (She also collected Japanese artifacts, an interest that led to an FBI investigation during WWII.) She specified that her dollhouses should have detachable roofs so she could see the furnishings inside. According to Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.'s book Empty Mansions, one of Clark’s Japanese dollhouses required special permission from the Japanese government to use a rare cedar generally reserved for imperial buildings and castles. That same dollhouse cost $80,000 and took three years to build.

6. TARA’S PALACE 

Tara’s Palace at the Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow, Ireland, is a Georgian Palace built in 1:12 scale, featuring 24 rooms filled with miniature furniture and books, as well as treasures such as a 17th-century house in a bottle. The ceilings are hand-painted, and the tiny floors of wood and marble were all built by hand.

7. QUEEN MARY’S DOLLHOUSE

Built for Queen Mary by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1921 and 1924, this miniature townhouse on a 1:12 scale features thousands of objects made by leading artists, designers, and craftsmen of the 1920s. There’s a well-stocked library and wine cellar, a garden, a toy theatre, and about 1000 works of art, as well as running water, electric lighting, working elevators, flushing toilets, and a miniature working bicycle. 

8. BOSDYK DOLLS HOUSE

Now housed at the Powerhouse Museum in Australia, the Bosdyk Dolls House was created by Frans and Christina Bosdyk in the grand tradition of 17th century Dutch dollhouses. The five-level, 20-room house took about a decade to create, and incorporates elements from Dutch and Australian life from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Frans Bosdyk, an electrical instrument maker, even constructed his own tiny hand tools to make the pieces. The rooms include a sewing room, gaming room, library, and kitchen.

Save Up to 93 Percent on 8 Gaming Accessories and Enter to Win a Free Nintendo Switch Bundle

Stackcommerce
Stackcommerce

The Nintendo Switch is one of the hottest video game consoles of the past few decades, with worldwide sales topping 55 million (that's more than the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64, and it's only a few million behind the original NES). The problem with a console being so popular is that it's not always easy to spot one on store shelves. If you haven't had luck finding one in recent months, you can enter this contest to win your very own Nintendo Switch, along with a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a pair of Switch-compatible Logitech wireless headphones, and a $300 Nintendo gift card. Head here for more details.

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15 Memorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at the age of 87.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away at the age of 87.
Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Supreme Court justice, feminist, and all-around badass Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18, 2020 from "complications of metastatic pancreas cancer," the Supreme Court said in a statement. Over the course of her 87 years, she smashed glass ceilings and delivered plenty of wisdom—inside the courtroom and out. Here are some of our favorite quotes from the Notorious RBG.

1. On her mother

"My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady, and the other was to be independent. The study of law was unusual for women of my generation. For most girls growing up in the '40s, the most important degree was not your B.A., but your M.R.S."

— via ACLU

2. On turning rejection into opportunity

“You think about what would have happened ... Suppose I had gotten a job as a permanent associate. Probably I would have climbed up the ladder and today I would be a retired partner. So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune.”

— In conversation with Makers

3. On female Supreme Court Justices

"[W]hen I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the supreme court]? And I say ‘When there are nine.’ People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that."

— In an interview with 10th Circuit Bench & Bar Conference at the University of Colorado in Boulder, via CBS News

4. On dissenting opinions

"Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, ‘my colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way,’ but the greatest dissents do become court opinions."

— From an interview on Live with Bill Maher

5. On criticism and not getting a majority vote

"I’m dejected, but only momentarily, when I can’t get the fifth vote for something I think is very important. But then you go on to the next challenge and you give it your all. You know that these important issues are not going to go away. They are going to come back again and again. There’ll be another time, another day."

— via The Record [PDF]

6. On having it all

"You can't have it all, all at once. Who—man or woman—has it all, all at once? Over my lifespan I think I have had it all. But in different periods of time things were rough. And if you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it."

— From an interview with Katie Couric

7. On discrimination

"I ... try to teach through my opinions, through my speeches, how wrong it is to judge people on the basis of what they look like, color of their skin, whether they’re men or women."

— From an interview with MSNBC

8. On gender equality

"Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."

— via The Record [PDF]

9. On feminism

"Feminism … I think the simplest explanation, and one that captures the idea, is a song that Marlo Thomas sang, 'Free to be You and Me.' Free to be, if you were a girl—doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Anything you want to be. And if you’re a boy, and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that’s OK too. That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers—manmade barriers, certainly not heaven sent."

— In an interview with Makers

10. ON her fellow Supreme Court Justices

"We care about this institution more than our individual egos and we are all devoted to keeping the Supreme Court in the place that it is, as a co-equal third branch of government and I think a model for the world in the collegiality and independence of judges."

— In an interview with C-Span

11. On the 5-4 Hobby Lobby ruling

"[J]ustices continue to think and can change. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow."

— From an interview with Katie Couric

12. On those Notorious RBG T-shirts

"I think a law clerk told me about this Tumblr and also explained to me what Notorious RBG was a parody on. And now my grandchildren love it and I try to keep abreast of the latest that’s on the tumblr. … [I]n fact I think I gave you a Notorious RBG [T-shirts]. I have quite a large supply."

— In an interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg

13. On being an internet sensation

"My grandchildren love it. At my advanced age—I’m now an octogenarian—I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who want to take my picture."

— From an interview with the New Republic

14. On retirement

"Now I happen to be the oldest. But John Paul Stevens didn’t step down until he was 90."

— From an interview with The New York Times

15. On how she'd like to be remembered

"Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, as my colleague David Souter would say, outside myself. ‘Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid."

— From an interview with MSNBC