My daughter Lily and I recently spent a leisurely afternoon exploring the booths of a local antiques store. We were delighted to find lots of vintage dollhouses for sale on the second floor of the shop, and she thought we should buy one (or three).
I told her you don’t have to own everything you like to appreciate it, and that if we snapped some photos, that would be good enough. This is a common disagreement between Lily, the collector, and me, the minimalist. She rolled her eyes and said, “I know you think that, Mom.” (Ha.)
I was captivated by this rare Craftsman Bungalow (above) but didn’t have $249 to spend on it.
Most were newer, though, like this one from the 1960s:
Lily was urging me to buy one, but I was resisting until I turned the corner and saw this:
The tag said it was a “Playsteel Tin Lithographed Colonial” from the 1940s:
I loved it.
It was dinged up and rusty in places, but it was only $50, so it was cheaper than others we’d seen. I kept trying to walk away from it, but Lily wouldn’t stop whispering in my ear, “We can’t leave it, Mom! It’s perfect for us!”
I decided she was right. I couldn’t resist. I bought it and brought it home.
I knew nothing about the house, so I did a little research and learned it was made by the American Can Company.
Woolworth’s sold it in 1948, and I was thrilled to find this old ad for it:
You could buy the furniture for each of the 5 rooms in the house for only $1 apiece:
Mine’s a bit rusty and warped on the inside, but you can still see the original graphics in the rooms:
The living room just needs an area rug to cover the
scene of the crime rust spot:
There are bookshelves and a painting on the wall where a fireplace could’ve gone:
The nursery has a playful puppy border…
…and a Nursery Rhymes mural:
I found photos at Susan’s Mini Homes of the dollhouse with the original furniture in it (so excited!):
The master bedroom with twin beds:
The bathroom has fun details like subway tile (trendy in the ’40s, too!), pink fixtures, and a fish on the floor:
Lily and I love our new (old) dollhouse. She thinks we need to start collecting them now and jokes that I could start a Hooked on Dollhouses blog, but I haven’t even figured out where to put this one yet!
It’s been moving from room to room as I try to find the best spot for it. It’s too big to fit on any of my bookshelves, the piano, or anywhere else I had thought might work. At the moment it’s sitting on the family room floor, but I think it needs a table or stand of its own.
Do you have any vintage dollhouses in your house? Where do you display yours? If anyone has a Playsteel Colonial like this one or knows more about them, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
I spotted my dollhouse in the Cate Blanchett movie “Carol.” You can see my post about it here: