Friday, February 16, 2018

... the World's Most Valuable Dollhouse

A couple years ago, upon discovery of the amazing Colleen Moore faery tale castle dollhouse in Chicago, I did a lengthy post about it. When built in the 1930's it cost 1/2 million dollars - now worth over 4 million dollars.
I have just discovered the Astolat Dollhouse (also known as Astolat Castle or Dollhouse Castle). Now, of course, these dollhouses are world famous for people in-the-know and traveling in doll and dollhouse circles. Having little interest in dollhouses, I'm not one of those. So, when I run across one of these astounding art pieces, I am flabbergasted and have to share with you - even though you may already be well aware of them! Astolat Dollhouse, a museum quality dollhouse is officially the most valuable dollhouse in the world, appraised for $8.5million. No - that's not a typo.
Built by the artist Elaine Diehl around 1980 and decorated with 10,000 items, the castle combines incredible craftsmanship with the finest materials.

Its great value is attributable to its hand-made intricate 800 pound, 9 foot tall, 29 room structure, as well as its extensive collection of the finest miniatures in the world including extravagant furnishings, with working fireplaces, stained glass panels, and 10,000 handcrafted miniature pieces that include original works of art, gold chandeliers, and the smallest antique Bible in the world.
 The Astolat Dollhouse Castle was once on display at the Tee Ridder division of the Nassau County Museum of Art (New York City. "The Castle is worth so much because of the structure itself," said Paula Gilhooley, the Museum's curator. Furthermore, "Astolat is one of the finest miniature structures in the world exhibiting a rare combination of sculpture, art, engineering and detail that sets it apart from anything in existence to date."
 Astolat "is a massive feat of construction and when you see it, it will leave you absolutely speechless"

The value also derives from its collections of high quality miniatures, including some made of gold, sterling silver, and many are antique and one of a kind.
 amazingly life-like miniature food served on sterling platters
the collection includes dozens of minature original oil paintings - some which 
were created with brushes of one or two hairs
real crystals line this desk, and in the back is a miniature frame
 with a hand made collection of miniature rare coins
Few other museum quality dollhouses meet such criteria.

When Astolat was first installed, the museum's curator stated "each room is decorated with furniture, tables, chairs, artwork and lighting made by artisans from around the world, and the materials are unique and expensive."  
 It weighs approximately 800 pounds. The interior consists of 29 rooms and adjacent areas that contain approximately 10,000 separate interior pieces. The Astolat Dollhouse Castle was acquired by collector L. Freeman in 1996 and moved it to the Nassau County Museum of Art.  Freeman is an avid collector of dollhouses and since her acquisition of the Astolat Dollhouse Castle she has continually upgraded its interiors with additional one-of-a-kind antique miniatures, tiny antique furniture, and paintings in addition to those that already existed within the structure. There are reportedly now about 30,000 miniatures pieces in the Astolat Dollhouse Castle collection, but only about 10,000 are displayed at any one time. The inventory is rotated.
 the room with the display of the world's smallest antique Bible
 a child's bedroom with a 24k gold bedside chair holding a 
highly detailed 3/4" porcelain faery doll with 24k gold wand. 
The embroidered door panels required 
miniature needles to be produced to create them.

Inspired by Alfred Tennyson's poetry about the Lady of Astolat, Astolat Dollhouse Castle was created between 1974 and 1987 primarily by master miniaturist Elaine Diehl with support and assistance from artisans throughout the world. In addition to its 9-foot height, it has 29 rooms, hallways, corridors, sitting areas, and windows. The Colleen Moore fairy Castle Dollhouse and the Astolat Dollhouse Castle were designed with fixed contiguous exterior walls to create a three-dimensional viewing effect.

 Astolat was built over a thirteen-year period. The exterior took a year to sculpt to the final finish. 

The interiors and adjoining areas were each constructed to the highest standards of that time. Astolat Dollhouse Castle was initially displayed in Diehl's museum shop in Sedona, Arizona until her retirement in 1996. It was a popular tourist attraction which drew people from around the world.

 Unique parquet floors, framed mirrors, tapestries, gold chandeliers, oil paintings, and fireplaces lead up to the top floor housing the "wizard’s tower" outfitted with telescopes and zodiacal signs. The furnishings include seven periods and styles, including Spanish, Oriental, Tudor, 18th-century English, and Victorian.

 The Dollhouse Castle's namesake was inspired by the fantasy castle "Astolat" in Alfred Tennyson’s poem Lady of Shalott.  Astolat Castle has a copper roof and structural wood walls that are finished on the exterior with papier-mâché and then sculpted to a rough faux stone finish. Some of these exterior wall panels are fixed to create a 3-dimensional effect when viewer's peer into the Castle. 
Other walls can be opened or removed for group viewing.  
The structure was built to 1:12 (one inch to one foot) scale.
 Consisting of seven levels, stairways, and hallways, Astolat Dollhouse Castle was created for 360 degree viewing. As with the Colleen Moore dollhouse, certain exterior walls are fixed to create a 3-D viewing experience. The basement level consists of the Knights Of Columbus room, wine cellar, kitchens, and the armory. The main floor contains the entrance foyer, main stairway, and butler's closet. Next level up contains the formal living room, dining room, and music room and its audience balcony. The fourth level contains the private library containing dueling pistols, a library of minature books, fireplace, miniature daguerrotypes, and the oil painting display area. Fifth level contains the sleeping quarters. Sixth floor contains the grand ballroom, musician's alcove, bar area and sitting rooms. Wizards's tower is on the top level and contains hand painted zodiac signs, telescope, observatory and astronomical depictions.

The interior spaces include miniature fittings and furniture most of which are antique, hand-crafted, and one-of-akind. Some are even artifacts from Pompeii. Other furnishings, and ancillary art includes sculptures, original oil paintings, portrait miniatures, hand sewn tapestries, carved wood moldings, chandeliers, sconces, framed mirrors, and accessories. These include miniature inlaid marble bathrooms, parquet floors, gold chandeliers, hand etched wood panels, and pieces made of gold.
 the gold framed portrait was painted with a one-hair brush
 and is valued at $8,000 - 
chairs around the table are each 18k gold leafed
Most of the interior furnishings and artwork are original and were purchased at auctions from private collectors, or commissioned from known miniaturists and artisans. Such artists include Eric Pearson, George Becker, Warren Dick, Laurel Coulon, Mary McGrath, among others.  The lighting features fully illuminate all areas of Astolat and separate day and night-time lighting systems automatically adjust based on the time of day.
master bedroom with handpainted murals and mouth-blown glass chairs.
the harp will play music
It may seem mercenary of me to keep mentioning the value of items, when it's really the incredible skill and talent it took to put together such a beautiful and awesome creation. But, well, I just can't get over the remarkable sums of money spent to play dollhouse! It floors me! I mean, if you spend $8.5million on your dollhouse, where do you LIVE?! 

Be sure to see all the other blogs participating in Beverly's Pink Saturday Blog Hop today!

NOW, you go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´
(¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥ 


Sarah said...

Not a doll house enthusiast, but this is most interesting. I appreciate miniatures! Thanks for sharing.

Jeanie said...

This is one of those posts where I don't even know where to begin. First, excellent research and photos. I became a huge fan of the Colleen Moore castle years ago and used to have a book which I loaned to someone who moved and never returned it and now I'm freaky about doing that with something that really matters! This one is a true rival. (Although, in the Moore library to have a book "written" by Kipling -- literally -- is quite a feat!) The rooms are exquisite. I've never been one to want to DO a dollhouse but boy, do I appreciate them. (Have you seen the Thorne miniature rooms in Chicago Art Institute?) I find them mesmerizing. So thank you for this. If you could email me the link to your Colleen castle post, I long to revel in that again.

Now, on a completely different note (and sorry to do this here -- don't have a direct reply email for you) thanks for your wonderful comments of late on my posts, especially the Valentine post, which made my heart sing. And if I could give you the butterfly chair, I would. I really loved the story about how the maker of the Victorian Valentine in your class came to your inn/restaurant decades later as the new librarian! That's so fun. And yes, I did make that pressed paper heart on the large valentine using my shortbread molds. Less calories than shortbread!

Enjoy the day!

Jackie PN said...

I am truly gobsmacked by this as well Tristan! And i totally love your last comment about where do you live-right?
I was sitting here reading and holding my fingers up to try and imagine how something so tiny could possible have been created-astounding!!
I appreciate your time spent researching and typing to share these posts- they are readings I don't think I would ever have stumbled across, but make great conversations about!
Thanks Tristan and may your weekend be bright and sunny and full of beautiful things!
Jackie xx

sheilaAR said...

I adore miniatures and have always loved tiny little worlds, but had no idea of these fabulous creations! Thanks so much for sharing these fantasy dollhouses "of the rich and famous." xo

Edzellinni aka Linda Edkins Wyatt said...

OMG! 8.5 million! All I can say is amazing. And I would love to play with it!