An old postcard of Marienberg, Saxony, Germany
In 1865 Moritz Gottschalk - born 1840 - founded a bookbinding shop in the small town Marienberg in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) of Germany. From 1873 on, he also produced dollshouses and other toys. When two years later the railway came to Marienberg, the factory grew larger and larger. They exported to England, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and America. That is why Gottschalk dollshouses can be found all over the world. In some capitals there were showrooms of his products and in the USA there was an agency of his firm. His dollshouses were world famous.
The architectural styles of each period were transferred to the miniature houses. The wooden dollhouses were often pasted with lithographic paper, which imitated the facades of the time. Windows at the sides of the building were sometimes only drawn on the paper.
A Gottschalk blue roof dolls house from a September 2004 auction catalogue of Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion (The numbers are the auction house's, not Gottschalk model numbers.)
Until about 1919 the roofs were blue; after that they were red. Many dollshouses were marked underneath with a number which can be found in the catalogues.
Gottschalk red roof dolls houses from (above) September 2005 and (below) April 2005 auction catalogues of Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion
The designers' inventiveness was unlimited:
abundantly decorated, huge and luxurious dolls mansions, but also the small cottage, houses with a dolls' lift, with pull-out or hinged gardens, with electric light, with moveable awnings, even round room boxes or dollshouses, caravans, kitchens, foldable room boxes, school rooms, baths, stables, later garages, castles, shops of any kind, from the butcher's to the apothecary's, from the magnificent pastry shop with café to a grand department store, or a market hall, a farm, a house boat, an airport, a theatre or a garden with pavilions.
Gottschalk red roof dolls house with a lift (see How Technology arrived in the Dolls House, page 6 of this issue, for a photo of the interior). Collection of Jörg Bohn; photo © diePuppenstubensammlerin
Gottschalk kitchen Model No 5703, previously in the collection of Evelyn Ackerman and shown in her book The Genius of Moritz Gottschalk (below). Now in the collection of Tracy Harnish. Photo © Tracy Harnish
A Gottschalk dolls house caravan or circus van, furnished with Gottschalk pressed cardboard furniture, from a September 2007 auction catalogue of Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion
Gottschalk gazebo, from the virtual collection of the Nuremberg Toy Museum
Christian Hacker and Albin Schönherr were other world-famous dollshouse manufacturers of that period. Schönherr was a former employee of Moritz Gottschalk, and many of his dollshouses are barely distinguishable from Gottschalk's houses. What is more, naturally other companies copied the style of the period, too, thus complicating the identification even more.
In 1905, Moritz Gottschalk died, but the company remained family-owned, first by one of his sons, then by his widow, then by her new husband, then his son ... Swantje Köhler has carefully followed all those changes in ownership.
During the two world wars the production stopped. After WWI it took some time before a new catalogue was published, and the first catalogues assumed the pre-war style. But after 1923 there were only newly designed models to be found in the catalogues.
After WWII, this toy manufacturer found itself in the eastern zone of occupied Germany, and the Soviets disassembled large parts of still existing factories to ship them to the Soviet Union as a form of reparations. Nevertheless, from 1947 on, the Moritz Gottschalk company built dollshouses again.
1950s Gottschalk kiosk, from the collection of Anna Setz. Photo © diePuppenstubensammlerin
Ad for the Moritz Gottschalk Wooden Toy Factory in the German toy trade journal Das Spielzeug (The Toy), February 1960
New model Gottschalk dolls house, complete with carpets, flooring and curtains, as shown in Das Spielzeug, 1966
Gottschalk dolls house in a VEDES mail order catalogue, 1968
The end of the long-established firm came in 1972 when all remaining private enterprises of the German Democratic Republic were dispossessed and nationalized. Toy companies were incorporated in the nationally-owned enterprise VERO. For some years they continued to build single toy parts in Marienberg, then the historic factory was partly destroyed by a fire. The remaining buildings were demolished in 1999 to make room for a sports hall.
1994, Evelyn Ackermann, The genius of Moritz Gottschalk, Gold Horse Publishing.
2000, Jürgen Cieslik and Marianne Cieslik, Moritz Gottschalk 1892 - 1931. Catalogue reprint series, Gold Horse Publishing.
2003, Marianne Cieslik and Swantje Köhler, Lexikon der Puppenstuben und Puppenhäuser. Verlag M. Cieslik.
2004, Femmie Markestein and Karin Wester, Poppenhuizen 1880-1980 : een wereld van illusie. Exhibition catalogue. Zwolle, Waanders.Wikipedia and the homepage of Marienberg, www.marienberg-sachsen.de