Ralph Mills

Objects of Delight

The Research Question

What can the phenomenon of miniaturisation, as reflected by the global trade and consumption of mass-produced miniature decorative objects, reveal about the nineteenth century working-class people who delighted in, desired, acquired, displayed, collected and discarded them?

Using evidence provided by historical archaeology, contemporary accounts in newspapers and other popular publications together with artworks and illustrations, what can be learned about miniaturisation from the fact that mass-produced miniatures are linked not only by the phenomenon of miniaturisation itself, but also by their presence and agency in macro-contexts (e.g. working-class homes), micro-contexts (e.g. the parlour mantelpiece), typologies (e.g. figurines, dolls), themes (e.g. pastoralism, patriotism), associations (e.g. doll parts and miniature food vessels), behaviours, (e.g. display, collection) and intrinsic and extrinsic meanings?

Last updated 1st February 2020