Toys, Dolls, Dollhouses & Automata
Shelburne Museum’s European and American dolls include bisque, papier-maché, Parian, china, wax, wood and cloth pieces, most of them made 1760 – 1930. About 400 dolls are on exhibition in Variety Unit.
Exhibited with the dolls are 19th and 20th-century dollhouses; they include an English Gothic Revival house and the idiosyncratic Ramshackle Inn, a rambling American house with an artist’s studio in the attic. A book about the doll collection, The Dolls of Shelburne Museum, by Jean M. Burks is available both in the Museum Store and in the online store.
Automata are large (sometimes three feet tall), often comical wind-up toys with accompanying music that were displayed in parlors, especially in France, in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. The Museum exhibits about 30 automata, including several particularly fine pieces by Gustave Vichy of Paris, France. These include a drunken chef, a magician, and a clown walking on his hands.
Vintage toys, with several new acquisitions, are exhibited in the Toy Shop. They include 19th-century cast-iron banks, toy carriages, fire trucks and an operating American Flyer toy train display.