Sunday, November 18, 2012

Antique Tin Toy Kitchen

Here's another antique doll kitchen, just in time for Thanksgiving. This one is from the late 1800s. This style of tin kitchen was made in America to compete with the larger, fancier, and more expensive wooden German imports. Although these were mass produced, they are hard to find today, as they were fragile, heavily played with, and filled with items that were typically lost over time. This one is still stocked with most of its original items.

The kitchen is made of pressed tin and measures 10 1/2 inches wide by 7 inches tall.

The central feature is the wood burning stove with exhaust hood. This is a non-working version, but some toy kitchens came with wood, coal, or alcohol burning stoves that actually worked. That's another reason they're so hard to find today: a lot of them went up in flames from cooking gone wrong.

The more deluxe versions of these tin toy kitchens did have one working feature, however: a water tank that really held water, and could be pumped with a little handle to fill a sink.
The tank rests in a basin on the right side of the kitchen. Pumping the handle on the top makes the water flow into this conical sink:
The kitchen is chock full of tiny utensils and implements. Here are a miniature grater and a mold:
The plate racks at the top of the kitchen are full of tin plates:
One of the few non-tin items in the kitchen is this miniature rolling pin, seen here with a mixing bowl and a butter knife:
The knife, bowl, and rolling pin are all completely out of scale with each other, yet all are original to this kitchen. Scale wasn't important to the makers of these toys. For implements to have been in scale, they would have been so tiny as to be unusable, and the whole goal was to give little girls an affordable (hence small) toy kitchen they could actually use to practice cooking and cleaning. The oversize spoons at the top of the kitchen are another example; such spoons are nearly always included in these kitchens and mounted in this fashion, and they are always this big.
Some of the items in these kitchens were cleverly made from scrap metals. These little frying pans were made from a cosmetics tin and a piece of embossed ceiling tile:
Advertising items sometimes found their way into these kitchens as well, and some kitchens were occasionally given away as promotional items for various home goods companies or as sales incentives. Children could sometimes win such a toy kitchen for selling magazine subscriptions, for example. This one has a tiny dust pan advertising the "Steel Edge Dust Pan" Company.
My peg wooden doll is getting ready to start her Thanksgiving cooking. Hope yours goes well, and that you have a very happy holiday!


  1. Oh my, so many intriguing pieces in one little kitchen!

    1. Yep! I'm amazed there are so many pieces still here.