1930s Dollhouse Furniture from the Luisa Hepper Katriner Collection

Strombecker Dollhouse Furniture

Denise Van Patten

Collector Luisa Hepper Kathriner kept all of her childhood dolls and toys from the late 1920s into the mid-1930s. She had a custom dollhouse that was crafted, not commercial. The dollhouse furniture, however, is mostly commercial. It is interesting to explore a collection that has been kept for over 80 years by the original owner.

Strombecker Dollhouse Furniture

The vast majority of the dollhouse furniture was made by the Strombecker company. Strombecker was located in Moline, Illinois, and started making dollhouse furniture in 1931. Their furniture was made for the middle class and was priced affordably. Nearly all of it was made from wood. I've already identified the large red living room set as being a Strombecker product, as well as the green bathroom set. The small cathedral table-top radio also is clearly Strombecker.

Most of the wood dollhouse furniture is Strombecker, produced in the 1930s for the middle class. For more information on Strombecker dollhouse furniture, visit 1930s dollhouse furniture online, a site that includes a good basic history of dollhouse furniture.

Other Brands of Dollhouse Furniture Found

Rooms of furniture included with the Hepper yard furniture. Additionally, with the Strombecker and wood furniture, are a few pieces of later (c. the late 1940s) Renwal plastic dollhouse furniture. This furniture was, according to Ms. Kathriner, added later either by Ms. Kathriner or her mother. These pieces include a tricycle and additional pink dollhouse furniture in the color of the baby's nursery. Another piece of identifiable dollhouse furniture is a small cast-iron Royal stove for the kitchen.

A few pieces of the dollhouse furniture were cleverly added or homemade, including two clocks that are actually small pencil sharpeners! There are several flower arrangements; some appear manufactured, and others appear home-made.

Rooms of Dollhouse Furniture Found

It appears that the five decorated rooms in the house were the living room, eat-in kitchen (very small, until the kitchen addition was made to the house later), dining room (furniture not shown; Strombecker wood furniture in green), child's room, baby's room, and bathroom. Was there ever an adult's bedroom? You would think there would be, but no adult bedroom furniture has been found, although perhaps the twin beds and the associated furniture were used for an adult's room, and not a child's room? Additionally, only child-sized dollhouse dolls are found.

Dollhouse Dolls

There are four dolls that are clearly dollhouse dolls. All four are painted bisque. There is a painted bisque baby in original clothing, with painted eyes and jointed arms and legs, and three painted bisque child dolls, also with painted eyes and jointed arms and legs. The little dolls are not marked but of good quality and were most likely made in Germany or Japan.

There is also a plethora of other small dolls, from stone bisque Japanese dolls to small German dolls, that are not of a correct dollhouse doll scale, but which I assume were used with the dollhouse; several of them have been heavily played with.

The dollhouse and its contents are a snapshot of what children of that era would have enjoyed.