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Rumford Doll House

1820
Origin: America, Mid-Atlantic, Pennsylvania,Philadelphia
Overall H. 53 1/2"; H. to eaves: 38 1/2"; turned feet 10 1/2". Depth: 21 1/2"; Width at base: 40"; width at bottom of eaves: 42 1/2".
Painted wood
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Rumford, II
Acc. No. 1981.1200.2,1
The doll house is made of softwood and painted. The front and sides are painted in the manner of a two-story, Federal, brick townhouse. The front is divided into two panels which open to reveal four rooms, two on each level. The painted front has five white steps leading up to a central door of three graduated panels. A brick arch enclosing a semi-circular lunette is above the door. The door is flanked by two windows with twelve lights (6 over 6) with white, three panel shutters. Two cellar windows flank the steps. The second floor has three windows with twelve lights (6 over 6). A simple, beam cornice and sill is found on all windows. A water course divides the front from the eaves. The pitched roof slopes towards the sides and has a slight overhang. There is a dormer on each side with a four light (2 over 2) window. The front has an attic semicircular lunette window. The right side has two glass windows on the first floor and one glass window (with three panels) on the second. The left side is painted and has two windows (4 over 4) in the first floor and three vertical panel windows (all 4 over 4, but the end units are narrower) on the second floor. The three mantels are original. The floor coverings date from the 1940s and later.


Label:The history of this dollhouse is an excellent example of how toys were cherished and played with over several generations. The house was made in 1820 for twin girls, Elizabeth Clifford Morris and Sarah Wistar Morris, when they were about seven years old. Several of the original furnishings carry the name of Jacob Giles, which could refer to the girls’ older brother who was about twenty at the time. It is possible that their father, Caspar Wistar Morris, commissioned the piece from a carpenter working on a home outside Philadelphia for the Morris Family at that time. Sarah died in 1826, leaving Elizabeth to inherit the dollhouse. She gave it to her daughter, Elizabeth Morris Canby, who married Charles Grubb Rumford. Their only son, Samuel Canby Rumford, inherited the dollhouse.
Samuel created a number of miniature reproductions based on early American furniture owned by the family. His wife, Mary Beatrix Tyson Rumford, helped him upholster some of the pieces. Samuel’s only son, Lewis Rumford II, was the dollhouse’s next caretaker. His wife, Rose, added miniatures of family portraits. In 1951, the Rumfords moved the dollhouse to Baltimore where their three girls and one son fondly remember playing with it. The five oldest grandchildren were the last of the family children to play with the dollhouse before it was given to the Folk Art Museum in 1981.
Provenance:The doll house was made about 1825 for Sarah Wistar Morris (1813-1826) and her twin sister, Elizabeth Clifford Morris (1813-1892). In 1820, their father, Caspar Wistar Morris was having a house built outside Philadelphia and it is possible that he commissioned on of the carpenters to make the house. When Elizabeth Clifford Morris married Samuel Canby in 1832 the doll house was moved to the Canby home in Wilmington, Delaware, and played with by their daughter Elizabeth, born October 31, 1848. Elizabeth Morris Canby inherited the doll house as well as the family home, where she continued to live after her marriage to Charles Grubb Rumford in 1875. The house was then passed on to their son, Samuel Canby Rumford who was a physician and surgeon in Wilmington, Delaware and the father of the donor, Lewis Rumford II.