Cheryl St.John: 19th Century Dollhouses

Little girls have enjoyed playing house throughout the years, and doll houses have always been a favorite.

R. Bliss Manufacturing Company of Pawtucket,  Rhode Island made doll houses in the late nineteenth century. Rufus Bliss started out making wooden screws

and clamps for piano and cabinet makers, and later adopted modern technology to produce inexpensive miniature houses.







Made of wood and lithographed paper, the houses were affordable for middle-class parents to purchase for their children. Bliss printed its name on the lithographed bricks or wood either on the front or back of the house.


Designed in the Victorian style, the houses were simple in their construction, with no embellishments like working windows or shutters. All the trimmings were in the lovely lithographs.


The house opened to expose two to

four rooms. Larger models had an attic as well. Firehouses, garages and stables were also popular.


Bliss houses are highly collectable and can be seen in museums across the country. Occasionally one comes up for sale on ebay. There is a company making reproductions, which are lovely.



The house at the right measures 18x12x20 This one would go for about $1,400 today.


Did you have a dollhouse when you were a girl? I had a colorful metal one.