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.  Hopefully, I am 
accurate in the re telling, Google translate can 
be confusing!
A wonderful website to learn about all kinds of dollhouses is
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.
  The room box below was shown in the 1927 Dora 
Kuhn catalog.  It has all the original  furniture, 
curtains, clock and hand painted pictures.  The little 
dolls came with the box when I purchased it used. 
Link to Tortula about this room:
1927 Dora Kuhn Room 
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.
Link to Tortula about these tiny rooms:
Tiny Dora Kuhn  
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.
 Be sure to visit 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!  


  1. What a wonderful post Sherri. I loved reading the history of the Kuhn Family. There work is amazing. Do you own any of these pieces? They are bright and cheerful. I can imagine anyone young or old would enjoy them.

    I am happy to hear that you had your finger looked at and I hope that the repairs that they did will work miracles and you will regain full use.

    I have been so busy with moving that I dropped out of blog land for a while. I hope to come back before too long. My husband and I have been doing all the moving of furniture and boxes. I hurt head to toe. We have our two sons and families us with us for this next week. The last of the big stuff should get moved over. It will still take some time to find everything and get organized. But, I am as happy as could be. Love being able to call a place "Home".

    Take care.

    1. Sandra, I am so happy for you. I know you've longed for your own home. I imagine the unpacking and moving is a huge chore but it will be worth it! I look forward to some photos of the new place. The pieces of Dora Kuhn are mine. I've been fascinated with the furniture since I first ran across it. I love that it's hand made!

  2. Your wisteria is beautiful! I have a young vine at the moment and hope it will grow and bloom next year. I love this post and it's history. I am going to save it so that I can go back and read and look again!

    1. We planted this wisteria several years ago. For 3 or 4 years it grew very little and didn't bloom. I got tired of it and chopped it down, literally to the ground and intended to replace it. That seemed to shock it and it took right off and hasn't stopped growing since! I have to trim it weekly during the summer or it will take over the upper deck.

  3. Great Post. the little furniture pieces are so pretty. I think I have seen some of these painted pieces, but I am not sure where now. The little doll rooms are really cute too. I expect a lot of folks bought these as gifts to bring back home. Your husband can make you some of these furniture pieces when he gets better and you can paint them up when you get better. Best wishes on healing for all of you.

    1. Actually Martha, I have enough 1/10 scale Dora Kuhn furniture to fill another dollhouse, that's on Steve's "honey do" list! The finger is healing nicely, hopefully in a few weeks I can attempt some hand sewing.

  4. I don't know which I enjoyed seeing more, the painted doll rooms/furniture or the flowers. (I'm very partial to iris, y'know.) Imagine how wonderful it would be to have gotten one of those wonderful little dioramas as a girl.

  5. I would have been over the moon to have received on as a child! Last year I transplanted several Iris to the front of the house and they are blooming right now, they are so beautiful. Just imagine if they smelled like roses. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. This was so interesting to read and the little pieces were eye candy! Martha had a really great idea: Hubby doing the woodwork and you doing the painting for your very own pieces. Now and then I see a nice cardboard box and think how nice it would be to make a room from it.

    1. Thanks Charlotte, I'm glad you enjoyed reading the history of the company and seeing the painted furniture. Little rooms are just as much fun to decorate and accessorize as a big dollhouse and much cheaper, plus they don't take up so much room!

  7. These doll rooms are beautiful. I could spend hours just staring at all the details! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the Kuhn furniture!

  8. That was so interesting. Really enjoyed the history. They've done amazing work over their long history and no matter what change happened, they continued to make great pieces. Just think of the millions of smiles on little girls faces when they received one as a gift! Do we ever grow up? I bet if we could, we'd have many of our childhood toys with us still. I have only a few small items. Glad your finger is getting better. I can't wait to see you in June.

  9. I agree Cinders. Can't wait to see you gals!

  10. Spring is putting on quite a show around the cabin, for sure! I also thoroughly enjoyed the history of the Dora Kuhn family. I love the little doll rooms! With your talents for painting, the little furniture is a perfect fit for you. Glad to know your finger is on the mend. Take care!

  11. I purchased one of the room boxese from a friend who said her grandfather brought it back from Germany in the 1930s for her mother and aunts to play with. They took excellent care of it. It includes a canopy bed and cradle with all the linens, the little wall clock, a chest with working drawers, a blanket chest that opens, the stove/heater and bench, the kitchen cabinet with pewter dishes in it, kitchen table and three chair AND a tiny 3 walled room box that looks just like it for the resident doll children to play with. All the painting is beautiful and the paint is in perfect condition.

    1. Marilyn, I would love to see a picture! Sounds beautiful. I am interested in the tiny 3 walled box. You can email me at

  12. Hello Sherri!
    Thank you for compiling the history here - what amazing works of art they created! My mother has kept a dresser from when she was a little girl in Europe, and I am 99.9% it must be Dora Kuhn, as the work seems quite distinctive. Although I have looked far and wide to find something close to what she had, I haven't been able to locate anything quite the same - her dresser/cabinet seems to have been slightly larger than the usual sizes I've seen online, and was a music box as well. Her's was full of a few rolled blankets, spools, a book, and various things on the inside - which I had never seen as a feature with any others seen online (others just being empty) UNTIL I saw your picture with dresser filled rolled blankets! I was so excited so see that!!
    Such a shame that the company no longer exists (from what I can see online? - do you know if there is a trick to finding their site?) as their pieces are truly works of art to be treasured!

    1. Hello Canada, So glad you found this post interesting and helpful. I used to have a link to the Dora Kuhn Company but I took it down, as it no longer worked. I assume they are out of business. I would love to see a photo of your mother's cabinet! Email me one at
      Thanks for your kind comment.


Leave me a message. I would love to hear from you.