Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

The R.Bliss Manufacturing Company by Wendy Gater

The picture above is an original  Bliss "Keyhole" House, which is in very good condition considering its age, this model is one of the more sought after houses. The pictures below show the inside, which includes some original Bliss lithographed furniture.

These pictures are courtesy of Alicia Davies.

 

 

The R. Bliss Manufacturing Company of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was established in 1832 and incorporated in 1873.

The company made a variety of products in its 100 year history, including dolls houses, stables, stores, churches and games to mention just a few. It is not known the exact date when the Bliss Company started to produce toys. The earliest known advertisement listing Bliss toys appears in the "New England Business Directory" of 1871. They are primarily known for their wooden toys and dolls houses covered with lithographed paper.

Their first known main range of paper-on-wood houses were introduced in the 1880s. Their range of all lithographed paper on wood houses were very popular, they were cheaply produced, very colourful and their generally small size convenient, they were able to be purchased by buyers in the smallest of homes.

Owing to the fact that R.Bliss lithographed his name on almost every door and occasionally elsewhere made them extremely easy to identify. There are some unmarked Bliss houses but these are in the minority.

The Bliss firm also produced many sets of dolls house furniture but much of it was in such large scale that the pieces didn't fit in the Bliss houses. The furniture was also made of lithographed paper-on-wood.

The firm's 1911 catalogue is of special interest and is included in the book "Bliss Toys and Dollhouses" edited by Blair Whitton, the book has 89 illustrations and includes the complete 1911 catalogue, well worth buying when able to source.


 Original Bliss "Log Cabin" House, courtesy of Sarah Boirin

 

Rufus Bliss, founder of the company was born in 1802 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He was the son of a New England farmer, he worked on the family farm until he was 21 years old, he then left home to take up a two year apprenticeship. He then worked in several machine and woodworking shops.

By the age of 30, Bliss started his own business the "R.Bliss Manufacturing Company", primarily as producers of wooden screws and clamps for piano and cabinet makers.

In 1845, Bliss's nephew Albert N. Bullock joined the growing company. Alva C. Bullock and Edwin R. Clark were also hired and a partnership was formed.

Bliss retired due to poor health in 1863 and died in 1879.

The company continued still bearing the Bliss name even though it changed ownership a number of times.

After 1900 the R. Bliss Manufacturing Company became associated with a co-operative sales organisation the "Hardware and Woodenware Manufacturing Company of New York".

In 1914 the company's toy line was taken over by Mason & Parker of Winchendon, Massachusetts, who continued to manufacture Bliss products.

The last known, logged entry of the R.Bliss Manufacturing Company appears in the 1935 Pawtucket & Central Falls city directory.

These unique houses have become extremely collectable and are becoming scarcer to buy. I have come to the conclusion that these houses must have been very loved and cherished by their owners for so many to have survived after all of the passing years.

Hermes Litho Bliss Miniature Dollhouse Wallpaper Asst.- useful for restoration projects

Offered for sale are beautiful sheets of vintage J. Hermes reproduction Bliss and lithograph dollhouse wallpapers. Mr. Hermes was a Los Angeles textile designer in the 50s and later went on to designing dollhouse wallpaper in the 1970s till his death in 2005. Joe Hermes was my dad and I grew up in the family business. Since my parents' deaths, I have a limited inventory that has been stored in a non-smoking warehouse.
This is a selection of papers that were specially designed for individuals to use when restoring either a Bliss or other lithograph dollhouse. These are 1/2" - 1" scale and are printed in the actual lithographed colors as originally issued. Nine of the eleven sheets measure 11"x17". The remaining two sheets measure 8-1/2" x11". Please note that these papers are no longer being manufactured. Some color combinations and/or designs may vary as my stock is becoming more and more limited. For further information or to purchase please email: hideehart@yahoo.com

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