With the approaching holy holiday season, so too comes shopping. Yes, old Saint Nicholas will soon be making an appearance at your favorite local shopping center. Toward learning more about valuable antique dollhouses, let's take a peek through the ceiling-mounted security camera aimed at the Santa's Workshop in Suburb Heaven Mall. Two seven-year old girls have just taken a seat on Santa's lap. Shelley and Dana are ready to express their meek aspirations for Christmas. Just dues owed them for being such good, or at least blameless, girls all year long.
Santa: "Ho, ho, ho! And whom do we have here? What's your name my little angels?"
Dana: "What kind of Santa are you? Thought you were supposed to know everything 'bout everybody?"
Shelley (whispering in Dana's ear) "Play along with him. Unless you're going into coal business."
Santa: What do my little Princesses want for Christmas this year?
Santa: "Excuse me?"
Shelley: "M. T. my friend said: Material Goods. Been a rough year, Santa. Our Oppenheimer funds down a third, and as far as bonds are concerned … well, you know, 2%! We might as well go back to the days of ceramic piggy banks."
Dana and Shelley produce palm-held Dells, fast and effortlessly as any gunslinger ever drew a Peacekeeper Colt. The two minicomputers conveyor-like screens flash What I Want for Christmas lists so speedily that Santa's twinkling eyes can barely keep pace: CD-ROMs, Victoria's Secret gift certificates, DVD players, high density flat screen TV's and dollhouses … finally something Santa can relate to.
Santa: Did you know that dollhouses were made as early as the 17th century, as a way of training young girls like yourself to run a household? Adults became so enamored their children's' toys they recreated interiors with wallpaper, chandeliers and beautifully detailed tiny furniture and fixtures; miniatures scaled just like big chairs and iceboxes and dressing mirrors."
Dana (scowling): "Right. And they came equipped with smiley face June Cleaver and Donna Reed dolls, dressed in little plaid kitchen aprons."
Dana jumps off Santa's lap and performs a curtsy move, right out of the 1950's. "Yes Ward," she says. "I'll get your slippers right away for you dear …Yechhh!"
Shelley: (Interrupting her friend, less they end up with no presents at all this year) "Mr. Santa, we're acquainted with the subject. The best dollhouses are often lifelike replicas of real homes with doors, glazed windows, porches, steps, a pitched roof and multiple floors and rooms. Clean examples with sophisticated architectural detailing and original wallpaper and lithograph flooring can fetch four figures. Especially if the house can be attributed to renowned makers like: Bliss (Pawtucket, RI, 1890's –1911), Christian Hacker (Nuremberg, Mid 19th century-1914), Gottschalk (Saxony, 1880's-1930's), McLoughlin Brothers (NY 1875-), G&J Lines & Lines Brothers (England, 1890's-1971). Prices are even going through the roof for later models homes made by companies like Bluebox, Ideal, Jaydon, Marx and Plasco. In the world of antiques, Santa, real estate and the little toys that go inside those dollhouses are hot property!"
Dana: (Agreeing with her friend) "Ba-ba-bing!"
"Ho, Ho, Ho," Santa says.
Shelley: "One other thing you should know, Mr. Clause … the furniture and accessories that go into dollhouses, constitute a larger market than homes themselves. Early miniature German telephones, birdhouses, kitchen accessories, carpet sweepers and Christmas trees can fetch as much as $50 each. Wood metal and composite furnishings sometimes fetch even more."
Dana: (Mimicking Bob from Bob's Discount Furniture): "Come on Down!"
Shelley: "Dana has a crush on that Bob guy."
Santa: (Perplexed, and flipping through the pages of a current Toys R' Us catalog) "Dollhouse … dollhouse," he says. Then he stops on a page three quarters through the book. "Here we go girls, how about if Santa and his reindeer come down your chimney and bring you a brand new Barbie Dream House for Christmas?"
Dana: "I'd rather eat venison steak!"
Shelley: "What Dana means is her mom always keeps the fire burning Christmas Eve." Shelley throws a threatening glance in the direction of her friend.
"Oh," Santa says.
Shelley: Dana wants a 19th gothic mansion by Bliss. The company's products are easy to spot because their name usually appears over the front door on their dollhouses. I want a Victorian two-story townhouse by Christian Hacker. With the typical attic room set into the "Mansard" roof. Don't forget the period furnishing and accouterments, perfectly fitting for every room. Original paint too, please.
Dana: "Make mine in original paint too. Think condition, Santa!"
Santa: (Sounding like a perplexed Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy) "Ay, Yi, Yi!"