This past April, part of the legendary antique doll house collection of Flora Gill Jacobs went up for auction — an exciting event for people everywhere who have been fans of the iconic collector.
For over 60 years, Flora Gill Jacobs was well-known for her commitment to doll houses. She wrote about, talked about, and collected these antique homes for decades, publishing several books and bequeathing her knowledge onto thousands of collectors who would later follow in her footsteps. Jacobs opened the Washington Dolls’ House & Toy Museum in Washington, DC, and for 30 years the museum both educated the public about architecture and interior decorations through the ages, and served as a model for other dollhouse museum displays around the country.
Jacobs then closed the museum and, in 2004, had her first auction of almost 600 iconic pieces. The auction net about $1.4 million, including several record prices for certain collection pieces. Jacobs’ “Mexican Mansion,” a large and intricate dollhouse, sold for $231,000– the largest sum at that point ever paid for an antique dollhouse in the U.S.
Some pieces, though, Jacobs held on to, and when she died in 2006, the pieces were passed on to her daughter, Amanda. Amanda enjoyed the collection for several years, and this year, she contacted auctioneer Noel Barrett, and asked him to put together an auction for her mother’s pieces.
As Main Antique Digest points out, this sale “was to a different audience, at a different time.” Many bidders were excited to see prices that were exceedingly affordable — the effects of the Great Recession had hit the doll market, too. Although the assembled group of international buyers was smaller than at the previous auction, many buyers were choosing to phone in with their bids.
When all was said and done, the sale grossed over $540,000. While the 2014 sale tallies don’t add up to that of the 2004 sale, the contents of each sale were vastly different, and largely account for the discrepancy in total sales. “I think it was a pretty great sale and a successful sale, ten years after the first sale of legendary objects. The collectibles market had changed dramatically in the last decade,” explained Allerton Cushman, a New York City dealer who participated in the auction.