Friday, March 26, 2010

Schoenhut versus Converse "Realy Truly"

This is a Keystone of Boston of the earliest dollhouses made by Keystone Mfg. Co.  The design pre-dates any of the houses in their 1938-39 toy catalog, so my guess is this house was produced about 1936. But this post is not about the dollhouse, it's about the 2 sets of doll furniture I keep switching in and out of this  little house!
Two American firms that manufactured dollhouses in the early part of the 20th century were the Schoenhut  and the Converse companies. Both firms made dollhouses for several years before they started manufacturing furniture to fill their little houses.

Here's my house filled with furniture manufactured by Schoenhut.......

Schoenhut's first dollhouses were produced in 1917, but they didn't start manufacturing dollhouse furniture until 1928. Although they  made dollhouse furniture for only 7 years, the designs of the furniture changed almost on a yearly basis. 

And here it is filled with furniture made by Converse.......

Around 1909, Converse started manufacturing dollhouses using colors lithographed directly on to  wood. Furniture for dollhouses wasn't produced until 1930 when they changed the style of their houses to one of  fiberboard and wood. The new house was called the Realy Truly dollhouse, and the furniture made for the dollhouse is referred to by collectors as Realy Truly. Only 4 rooms of furniture were produced... living, dining, bedroom, and kitchen, with the design not changing for the short period it was made. Their furniture was very similar to the Schoenhut furniture produced during the same period.

This ad for Schoenhut furniture appeared in the Sears and Roebuck catalog in 1933; not all the Schoenhut  furniture in my house is from this ad.

This ad shows the Realy Truly furniture from the 1930 Sear and Roebuck catalog. 


This Schoenhut  living and dining room furniture was made in 1931.

A library table was part of the living room set (I don't have one), but I'm not sure if smaller tables were also produced.

My dining set needs a touch of Old English scratch cover...just like in real life!

This bedroom furniture is from Schoenhut's 1934 line. The top of the mirror has the same scalloped design as the head and foot boards on the bed. Removing the frame from the dresser's mirror  was a cost cutting design on the part of Schoenhut. Underneath this yellow calico, the sofa and chair are just like the set in the living room. In fact, the set in the living room came with these cute  slip covers.  Since they were in better shape than the set now covered, I  removed all the 1/4 inch nails and recovered the set that was in poor condition (using a hot glue gun). And now I have over 30 tiny vintage nails to make other repairs to my houses!

The bath furniture is also part of the 1934 line, the last produced by Schoenhut. The vanity stool is not part of the set; it was an unfinished piece that came with other funiture.

I love the way the dollie can still see her reflection in the mirror....after 76 years.

The Schoenhut kitchen is from the line produced in 1933, with the exception of the stove which was made in 1934. I'm sure yellow chairs came with the set, I just haven't found any! These blue chairs were part of the bedroom set. The green table in the back is from their 1931 line.  The tea trolley came with the dining room furniture; as it has the same legs as the kitchen table, I assume it is from 1933-34.


Converse Realy Truly living room set came with a library table and a cute little footstool....

and a radio just like real houses had in 1930!

The dining room included two different sized buffets just like the Schoenhut line.

The bedroom set included twin beds, dresser, rocker, end table and lamp (not the one shown).

The beds were covered with paper printed to look like coverlets.

The kitchen set included 7 different pieces....table and 2 chairs, stove, refridgerator (although I'm sure in 1930 they were still "ice-boxes"), hutch, and a 2-legged sink.

Here are some comparison pictures.....

Realy Truly on the left..........Schoenhut on the right

So, I wonder which little set will win out and get to live in my little house?

All of the information on these sets of Schoenhut and Converse doll furniture comes from one or more of Dian Zillner's wonderful dollhouse books.


  1. Hi Florine,
    thanks for letting us discover these two makers. Both are very interesting, and their furniture is very nice. I understand, that you hesitate. I hesitate too. I think, I would prefer the converse one, for the round shapes, but may be the Schoenhut would suit better to this house.
    have a nice day!

  2. Obvious solution: buy another house!!!
    Otherwise, I would be completely heretical and have the Converse living room set (I love those chairs - the shape and the glorious royal blue colour) - and the Schoenhut in the rest of the house. Then they get a bathroom (although many dolls seem to manage without), and I like all the Schoenhut colours against the lithographed walls.
    But it's all lovely, so I can understand the difficulty you have deciding! Thanks for showing it all to us.
    ps Some mirror that is, if it shows the same reflection after 70 years! Where can I get one?

  3. Wonderful colours, each of them fits so perfectly, I couldn't decide which to take for the house - perhaps changing every year meanwhile hoping to get another of this old houses?

  4. Hi Bea! American eBay is funny...for 2 years the Converse blue sofa and chairs were the only pieces of this furniture I had. Then, both the Converse and Schoenhut started popping up I was lucky enough to fill my little house two times. And I do enjoy changing from one set to the other...that's what makes having dollhouses FUN! Flo

  5. Hi Rebecca and
    glad you both enjoyed seeing this neat old furniture.
    I do have another of this little house...but it's missing the interior walls, windows, and chimney. I was making new walls for it when this one became available, so now the first one sits and waits for me to have time to finish. This little house seems so perfect for both sets of furniture that I haven't tried either of them in another house.
    Hmn, Rebecca, must go check out that magic mirror!
    ps. Converse won out for now...

  6. What a detailed historic post. Love the knowledge I have absorbed from this. After studying (to the best of my ability) everything this is what I would prefer.

    Colors: Brown (wood), Green and Red.

    Living Room/Dining Room: Schoenhut (red) furniture and use all the wood pieces (radio and library table) from the Realy Truly set. Accent with red items. I would use the Schoenhut dining room set.

    Kitchen: Realy Truly (green) and accent with blue and red items.

    Two Bedrooms: Use all wood items-Realy Truly, love that old green chair, accent with lots of colors.

    In other words I would take out all the blue, yellow and pink furniture.

    Can you imagine how much a Seven Piece all Mahogany well built doll house furniture set would cost now a days? I cherish history and long for the simpler days. My mind wondered to a time long ago as I spent time on your blog. Thanks for sharing. Excellent, informative post.

  7. Let's would take out all the blue, yellow, and pink...that makes you a "Really Truly" girl with the exception of the sofa and chairs! Guess what? Right now it's ALL Really Truly, but I am thinking about giving them the pink bathroom. The peeps said to do it very soon!

  8. I think the answer is to find a Schoenhut house. They get very expensive on ebay but dollhouse shop owners often know people who have them and don't want to offer them to just anyone. Start asking around. What could be better than a Schoenhut house with all Schoenhut furniture. It would take some patience but there must be one out there for you. C

  9. C! I LIKE your idea! You've given me the best excuse I need. If I survive my 5 days "nannie" duty with my 3 year old grandson, I will definitely need to reward myself!! Thanks, CM!

  10. Hi,
    I recently inherited a dollhouse from my grandma, and she didn't say what kind of furniture she had, but it looks like a combination of these two. I was wondering if you would be willing to look at picture and see what you think? The furniture would be from the early 30's as best we can tell.

  11. Hi Kirsten! I would love to see your furniture and hopefully I can help you identify it. Please send to me at Flo

  12. I have A Schoenhut doll house needs work...anybody have any ideas?

  13. Hi Anonymous...are you interested in selling? They sell well on eBay. I found a Schoenhut house for this furniture but it is large enough for my larger Schoenhut I am still looking for a smaller one. If interested send pics to me at My Schoenhut house was in great shape, so I don't have experience with refurbishing Schoenhuts. Cheers, Florine

  14. I have the schoenhut library table you were talking about that you don't have, it looks a lot like the strombecker 1 inch scale red library table, but mine is brown, I won a living room set on ebay and its complete....2 chairs, couch, floor lamp, piano, bench and library table, the person who sent it to me basicly put it all in a box loose unwrapped and a few things broke and my couch and chairs lost the legs, do you know of anyone that sells just the feet? I have lots of things from many companies but only find them on ebay, are there any other stores or groups that sell? you have tons of great stuff... I want it all!! I have about 20 different houses out and another 30 put away, everytime I think I know what I am missing, I see new things I don't have... I don't see a place to post pics, I recently made a room for a supposed 1917 bedroom set that it complete, its slightly larger than 1 inch scale, but is close, bed 2 night tables, vanity with mirror and chair and dresser, I have seen on ebay one time but was missing a table and chair.... where can I send pics? thanks craig

    1. We need to talk!! You may email me at attach all the pics you want. Would love to hear about all your houses! cheers!

  15. Loved your article. I don't collect, but when I was a kid, I played with my mother's Schoenut set when I visited her childhood home. She passed away recently (she was 95h and now this set is part of memories from her I will cherish. Thank you for providing some details for me.

  16. And thank you for sharing the love of a mother and daughter.