The House of Miniatures

Authentic Reproductions in Miniature

History of The House of Miniatures Brand™

DISCLAIMER: This information is being gathered from various indirect sources and may be incorrect or incomplete in some details. If you can shed any light any the subject please e-mail Colin Michael

The Start: 1976 - 1981

1969 - National Handcraft Institute, Inc. (mail order handcraft kits) acquired by CBS, Inc. See an example of their offerings.

1971 - X-Acto, Inc. was purchased by CBS, Inc. and based in Long Island City, NY.

1976 - The House of Miniatures™ line appeared with X-Acto™ emblem, born out of the National Handcraft lines. Both X-Acto and The House of Miniatures™ were located on Van Dam Street in Long Island City, NY, now the site of Middle College High School. The kit of the month club was administered out of Terre Haute, IN. By 1977 there were 35 kits, plus other items in the line up and a full line catalog was produced.

1981 - X-Acto™ and The House of Miniatures™ sold, National Handcraft Institute dissolved.

Hunt Mfg. Co.: 1981 - 1986

In March 1981, Hunt Mfg. Co. paid $13.9 million for two properties previously owned by CBS Inc., the X-Acto™ company, which made hobby knives, and The House of Miniatures™ company, which sold dollhouse miniatures through the mails. Both remained in Long Island City, New York. The Hunt Mfg. Co. notice went on the boxes in place of CBS. In 1983, the Craftmark name went onto literature and the address changed to Bergenfield, NJ. THoM offered some of the kit items as fully built, artisan miniatures and introduced their Coronation Series of artisan furniture pieces as high-end collectibles.

In April 1985, Hunt moved its X-Acto™ operations to its Statesville, North Carolina manufacturing facility. X-Acto/THoM address changed to 2000 Craftmark Center and the Hunt Mfg. Co. was still listed on the package. The catalog department was listed as being in Bergenfield, NJ, which is also where club inquiries were directed. Around this time the Craftmark name went on the advertisements, but the NJ address was the same. This was the peak of the brand, listing over 175 different products in the full line.

In addition to the kits, THoM catalogs offered many other miniatures, including a line of silver serving dishes from Colonial Williamsburg. They also sold finished furniture items made from the kits, display shelves, glass globe display stands, roombox kits, wallpapers, rugs, etc.

By the end of 1985, after a spurt of acquisitions, Hunt´s revenues had surpassed $100 million for the first time. The following year (1986), Hunt trimmed back its operations somewhat, selling off two divisions, including the costly Craftmark / The House of Miniatures™ mail-order operation.

Craftmark: 1986 - 1993

When THoM was sold, the Craftmark name went on the The House of Miniatures™ packaging as it moved to Delaware, Ohio. Craftmark was originally in Bergenfield, NJ, but I've only found that address on pewter items. I am guessing that the buyers (perhaps the group that ran the club operations?) bought out THoM and the Craftmark name. They changed the X-Acto™ THoM logo by exchanging the word Craftmark and removing the gold seal effect. No other company info is listed on the boxes, so the new company must have been independent. No more affiliation with X-Acto™, which is still in Statesville, NC, is mentioned.

Craftmark added a line of The House of Miniatures™ dishes made from poured pewter and dropped many of the second party items. The offerings didn't expand in the Craftmark logo years and sales declined as the popularity of the hobby faded.

Houseworks: 1994 - 1999

Houseworks Ltd. (manufacturer/wholesaler of miniatures since 1975) bought The House of Miniatures™ in mid-1994, produced a new catalog and added the Signature Series of precision furniture kits, which never carried the THoM logo. The Federal and Victorian designs came from the same designers as the earlier THoM products. There was a separate club for collectors of the new series and both clubs were still administered out of Delaware, Ohio.

The House of Miniatures™ name was used on a line of H.O. scale houses. The Houseworks name was on the packages (seal) and the collectors club was administered by HBS out of Atlanta. Ads appeared in most miniatures magazines in 1995 and the houses were very detailed kits. At the time, both the miniatures hobby and the model train hobby were waning in the wake of the electronic toy revolution.

Hobby Builders Supply: 1999 - present

The final address and phone number that THoM had is now that of Hobby Builders Supply. Houseworks and The House of Miniatures™ folded into HBS and THoM faded away into the dusty shelves. HBS became the repository of the final inventory. When I looked in December of 2008 I found that still had ten different kit designs in stock, a total of 8882 kits on hand! And all are on clearance at 40% off of the 1994 prices. By the end of 2013 there remained only a few leftovers listed under The Chippendale Collection, which also seems to include a few later or reproductions items, as well.