The Washington area has its own collections of dolls and toys. Worth visiting:
The Octagon, 1799 New York Ave. NW, is showing "A Child's Christmas: 19th-Century Toys and Traditions" through Wednesday. The toys are from the private collection of Jeanne Butler Hodges, head of the American Institute of Architects Foundation, and from Kensington antique dealer Lorna Lethbridge Priest. One unusual 19th-century rocking horse is on loan from Cherishables Antiques of D.C. Open: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
The Dolls' House and Toy Museum of Washington, 5236 44th St. NW, is exhibiting a 3-foot tall revolving musical Christmas tree surrounded by antique toys in their original boxes. Santa Claus puzzles, 1910 tin cars and rare Christmas cracker bonbons are among the gifts. The museum houses about 25 dollhouses -- mostly Victorian or Edwardian. Open: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
The Smithsonian's toy and doll collection, housed in two cases on the second floor of the National Museum of American History as well as in the bookstore, is a small but comprehensive reflection of childhood. Their collection includes White House toys as well as a White House dollhouse that has been decorated with wreaths for the holidays. Open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cherishables, 1816 Jefferson Pl., has a sizable collection of 19th century toys including a white and black topsy-turvy doll, a pull toy horse and toy soldiers. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. A Collector's Book
Bernard Barenholtz and Inez McClintock's "American Antique Toys: 1830-1900" (published by Harry N. Abrams Inc., $15.95) has superior photographs by Bill Holland of the well-preserved (and some not-so-well-preserved) toys. A number of toy hourses and buggies are pictured in front of huge mansions, making them look almost life-size -- with some help from the camera. And a close-up of the 1880 "Alphabet Man," whose neck shows the letters of the alphabet, illustrates the sophistication of these early playthings.