New to our Christmas display this year but not new to our collection is this Bliss Adirondack Cottage circa 1905. When we bought it from a small local antique shop almost three years ago, we weren’t sure how to display it, but we said even then that it would make a great Santa Claus workshop. That vision was finally realized this year.
Here you see the front of the cottage with German bisque elves playing on the upper and lower porches while a nice old composition German Santa sits on his wooden sled.
Here you see the back of the cottage just filled with toys and decorated Christmas trees and another playful elf.
This doll house came with a paper from an auction when it was purchased by someone else in 2005. It was described thus: Bliss Adirondack Cottage – an unusual doll house with lithographed paper exterior, stained wood roof and base, 4-room interior with period wallpaper, 17.5 inches tall.”
We have loved Bliss doll houses from the moment we first saw them early in our collecting years, and we have been fortunate enough to acquire about four of them at affordable prices. Bliss doll houses are characterized by their wood construction and beautiful chromolithographed paper coverings. The peak of production was at the turn of the century, and the most elaborate houses are beautiful miniature renderings of highly Victorian-style houses in all their gingerbread glory. This “cottage” is unusual and, we believe, rare because it is quite simple in style and decoration. The very realistic-looking logs are, indeed, just printed paper.
Rufus Bliss went into business as a carpenter in Pawtucket, Rhode Island back in 1823. He was highly skilled and inventive in his carpentry techniques, becoming best known for his lathe-turned wooden screws and clamps. He took on a partner, A.N. Bullock, in 1845 and the name of the company became R. Bliss and Company. In 1867, several years before the company first advertised the making of toys, Mr. Bliss withdrew from the business. In 1873, Mr. Bullock died. However, the company continued on with Mrs. Bullock retaining an interest, and a stock company involving Bullock family members among others was formed in 1874. The company continued to make practical things like wooden screws, clamps, and tool handles, but they expanded further into croquet sets, tennis racquets, and paper-lithographed toys. Today, their doll houses, wooden boats, and pull-toys are among the most prized and expensive of American antique toys. A Massachusetts company bought out the toy-making end of the business in 1914 and kept the name, but it ceased production in 1935.