If you ever had the chance to go to a miniature show, you probably already suspect this hobby is serious business.... In the 1980's it was responsible for over US$ 55 millions in sales per year...
The habit of making and collecting miniatures dates back to pre-historical times. Miniature statues and objects have been found at numerous archeological sites around the world. Back then they even held a certain magical purpose, almost ritualistic. Between 1600 and 1700, it became a hobby dear among the aristocratic class and the extremely wealthy ones. They took it to an even higher level. They would commission special cabinets to exhibit their most precious collectible miniature items, purchased all over the world and manufactured by the most talented artisans. Each little piece was made with such perfection that no child could even dream of touching them. They were a private treasure to be enjoyed and envied by grown-ups' eyes (and hands) only!
In the first decades of last century a renowned British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, was commissioned by members of the royal family to create a very special dollhouse for the Queen, to be presented to the public during the British Empire Exhibition. Over 1,500 artists, craftsmen and manufacturers contributed to this project. It was meant as a gift from the people to the queen, as a showroom of England's finest manufactured products, and as an accurate historical record of how a royal family might have lived during that period in England.
From that moment on, the hobby has been captivating more and more enthusiasts, collectors and amateur miniaturists. More recently, at the dawn of the 'Internet era', it has spread its appeal even further, enthralling more new fans literally all over the world.
There are several scales of reduction in the miniature world. The international standard scale for dollhouses nowadays is 1:12, or one foot to one inch, where real world objects are reduced to 1/12th of its original size so that a perfectly proportional miniature can be created! This means that if a real world object is 1 foot big (like a food dish, for example), in a dollhouse it will be only 1 inch in diameter. The reference to imperial units (1:12) holds up even in countries with metric (or scientific) units, where 1:10 would have been more natural. That is so because the hobby has first reached popularity in England.
Other preeminent hobbies that deal with miniaturization of objects and structures, like those that work with cars, airplanes, ships, trains, buildings, etc, use different scales, being the most common ones 1:10, 1:18, 1:24, 1:48, 1:87 and 1:120. There are miniatures as small as 1:144 (which would be a dollhouse for a dollhouse...) and even 1:160! One often needs magnifying glasses to be able to enjoy them to the fullest!!!
Throughout this website we are going to talk about dollhouse miniatures. And as the most common scale used for them is 1:12, that will be the standard here as well, unless otherwise noted.
Two historical examples:
left, the cabinet commissioned by Petronella Oortman, a wealthy lady from Amsterdam .
right, he famous Queen Mary's.
Click on the pictures to visit their official websites.
Photo & chaises by
Virginia Paton (Aussie Vee)
Courtesy: Virginia Paton