Friday, April 22, 2016

History of Dora Kuhn Dollhouse Furniture

 I wanted to share some of the history I've learned
about the German folk art painted dollhouse
furniture by the Dora Kuhn company from Sigi
Ulbrich's site Tortula.  Link to a prior post with 
links to Sigi's site at the bottom.  Hopefully, I am 
accurate in the re telling, Google translate can 
be confusing!
In 1911 August Kuhn, a master wood turner, was working at
 the Oberpollinger Department Store in Munich, Germany.  
During his spare time in the company workshop, he made
 toy furniture for his daughter Anna.  When the boss saw the 
miniature works of art, he immediately put in an order.
Within a year the Kuhn Company was born.  In the 
beginning they made cabinets and room box dollhouses. 
In 1932 August's son Franz married a young  
lady named Dora.  Dora's father was concerned 
about the future financial security of his daughter.  
As part of the marriage negotiations and dowry
 the company changed it's name to Dora Kuhn.   
The cabinet below is from the 1930's.
 The furniture is well built.
The painting includes the Tolzer Rose
and the Kuhn heart.
 The Kuhn's were a devout family.  The initials JHS
found on the cabinets represent Jesus His Savior 
and Maria is the Mother of Jesus.
 Franz and Dora had a daughter Christa.
Christa married Heinrich Holzle a master 
carpenter.  He brought skill and a keen 
 business sense to the company.  During the
1960's the company flourished.
 Christa was the family painter, so furniture from
 this period was most likely painted by her.
 The room boxes also came in several sizes.  In the early
years, crafting of the rooms was a cottage industry aroun
the little Kuhn company.  They were made by individuals
 in their home workshops then purchased by the
 company to be furnished for sale.
  This room box is the earliest Kuhn and has it's 
original furnishings, decorations and little dolls
someone played with.  
All the rooms had the distinctive hand painted
 furniture and similar features.  The interior walls
  had painted trim high on the interior walls, 
this one is very simple.
The rooms came with a hand painted clock.
The church is a representation of St. Peters 
Dome not seen in the later rooms.
The kitchens and bedrooms have the European
 style oven/heater in a variety of styles.
This box is brightly painted.
All the windows had green shutters with Kuhn hearts
 and apple trees painted on all three exterior sides of 
the boxes.  No two boxes are alike and the variety of 
trees is endless.
The company closed it's doors in 1940, but reopened
shortly after WWII.  This tiny room is marked US 
Zone Germany.  Many of these small rooms made their
 way to America as souvenirs purchased by returning
 GI's for their daughters, sweethearts and mothers.
The quarter gives you an idea 
how small this room is.
Around this time period, all the bedding and curtains
were made in red or blue micro check fabric and
became the standard. 
The simple brown Kuhn box had several
 versions of the black and white label.
The wardrobe and dressers of the
 miniature furniture do not open.
For a time, the room boxes and furniture
 after 1947 were given a coat of varnish.
  Over time it develops a soft amber color.
This 1960's room box is in 1/12 scale.
The cabinet below is a bit of a mystery.
The company sold blank cabinets and cabinet
 kits.  It's possibly one of those.  None the less, it's 
a fine example of Bauernalerei (literal translation 
in German is farmer painting).  Someone spent
great deal of time and effort decorating this 
cabinet and stuffing it full of goodies.  
It's the perfect fabric stash for 
the tiny treadle sewing machine
 by the Bodo Hennig Company.
The peasant style dollhouses came 
in several designs and sizes.
This petite 2 room house was in the 1960 catalog. 
(Next post is a peek inside) 
The company made doll furniture and 
 swinging cradles in several sizes.
This cabinet from the 1974 catalog holds a 10 1/2 in doll
& the last version of the mini furniture.  By this time
the furniture is press painted, but still beautiful.
During their 104 year history, the company has
endured severe economic hardships, closed their 
doors during WWII (1940-1947), moved to several
locations and suffered a devastating fire.  The Kuhn 
Company is still in business.  They make finely crafted 
dollhouse furniture in the traditional 1/12 scale 
and slightly larger 1/10 scale in a natural finish.
Dora Kuhn Company 
 Be sure to visit a prior post to see links
to Sigi Ulbrich's site Tortula for detailed
  history and beautiful photos of furniture,
accessorized room boxes and dollhouses.
Sigi has been publising her site for 18 years
and in Germany is considered the expert 
on Dora Kuhn and EDI dolls. 
   Congratulations Tortula
We're having a beautiful spring here in the
Ozarks The wild Dogwoods were a stunning
display this year.
The wisteria on the back deck is flourishing.
 The bees are thick as thieves.
 One of the iris has even bloomed.

I hope you're enjoying lovely spring weather too! 
I had DIP fusion on my sewing plain words,
they put a screw in it.  Hopefully, I will be able to enjoy
pain free hand sewing in the near future!