Rather often we took care of New Year's gifts of the adults so that it seems good, once at least, to dedicate an exclusive article to those whom received youngs, to whom moreover, they would moreover be exclusively reserved ; it would not be the best means to make pleasant this boring day of January first that, if it makes the happiness of someone, is not expected without apprehension by the largest number !

Feuille de croquis de Jouets,  par Gavarni  (1805 )

In France, there is a fair of toys from time immemorial, in surrounding areas of Christmas. This fair was installed first of all between the bridge Saint-michel and the bridge Au change; in 1725, we transferred it in the Palais-Royal; then in 1789, between the Porte Montmartre and the boulevard des Capucines, where it was held until this day, with an interruption from 1839 till 1852, motivated by the complaints of the small shopkeepers.
François Colletet, in his bother of Paris, in 1665, already sang as reports it Mister Léo Clarétie in his work interesting on" Les Jouets ", this fair in New Year's gifts:

Do you see already trinkets,
and one thousand frivolous nonsense,
which we invent for the children,
Five, six or seven years old

These verses especially the last one are not remarkable; but Colletet did his best.


It is not at this fair, for a very good reason, that the Court and the great lords stocked up of toys. Tallemant de Réaux, in his historiettes told
" that it cost to the Cardinal de la Vallette two thousand ecus for a doll of bedroom, the bed, all the furniture, negligees, the dresses and many clothes to change for Mademoiselle de  Bourbon, since duchess of Longueville, still child. "

 Louis XIII was crazy about toys; he had a small coach, full of dolls, of households of silver and lead, " a ship of silver was gilded on wheels, going to the wind, to the dutchman ", lead squadrons of which he raised on a leaky table; but he did not disdain the popular toys, " with big flags and with some whitening " and with which he led big noise to the Court.


There were also households, which we find constantly in the history of toys.
But we remain dreamy, when we read in Tallemant the description of the one who was given by the Cardinal to Madame d' Enghien: " There was, in a small bedroom, six representing dolls: a woman in confinement, a nursemaid almost of course and a nurse, a midwife and a grandma.
Mademoiselle de  Rambouillet, Mademoiselle de Boutteville and the others, played with her. They undressed and slept every evening dolls; they dressed again them the next day, they them cooked, and made them take medicine. One day, she wanted to make them bathe, and we had a great deal of difficulty in preventing her from it. "
The room of the sublime which Mademoiselle de Thianges gave, in 1675, to the duke of Maine, was more magnificent. There was a bed and a baluster, armchairs where sat wax figures, the duke himself, the duke of Rochefoucauld which examined poems, Marcillac, Madame de Thianges, Madame de La Fayette, Boileau, preventing with a fork the bad poets from approaching: Racine and Lafontaine!.....
The trade dictionary of Savary, appeared in 1723, shows that we sold then to the fair, the horses of cards, small coaches, monks sounding their bells, clergymen in pulpit, crocheteurs loaded with candies, etc.

In the XVIIIth century it was besides, in the shops of the new year, the pewter(houseworks), dolls were dressed in materials; we looked for wood worked on Saint Claude, boxtree especially, so hard, and of beautiful yellow color, where the Jura workers sculptured grotesque, drunk, contorted faces, which cheered up by their colorful faces; games of skittles, tops and kites; pantins finally, which make a new appearance in 1746, as well as the report Barbier in his journal.


" During the last year, he writes, we imagined in Paris the toys which we call pantins, to make at first the children play, and who served then to amuse all the public... These small faces represent Harlequin, Scaramouche, baker's boy, shepherd and shepherdess, etc...and are painted as a result of any sorts of manners. There was of painted by good painters, among others by Boucher, one of the most famous of the Academy, and which were sold expensive. It is thus these trifles which occupied and amused all Paris, in a way that we can go to no house that we find hung in all the fireplaces there. We make gift to all the women and the girls, and the fury is there to the point that at the beginning of this year, all the shops are filled with it for New Year's gifts. "

A song ran in Paris and the province, dedicating the glory of Pantins:

That Pantin would be satisfied
If it had the art to please you!
That Pantin would be satisfied
If it pleased you by dancing!

It is the strapping and entertaining
accommodating boy,
and who to satisfy you puts himself
everything in movement.
But Pantins so celebrated,  undergo the common fate. In 1754, the year 42 of the bilboquets, 8 Pantins, 1 of the turnips, as appears a brochure found by Goncourt, we strove to dig a turnip and to plant in the hollow an onion of Hyacinth: we placed the whole in the water, and grown-ups and children followed with interest the simultaneous development of the flowers of the hyacinth and the sheets of the turnip, which were mixed.

It was there, cheap toys; but there was also of magnificent as in the XVIIth century; so beds golden Louis XV, sculptured, pad by green satin, chests of chinese drawers (already!), pedestal tables, stools Louis XVI, dolls in falbalas in possession of a job(business) with tapestry, a cradle with little baby doll, a tiny tea set, lilliputian armchairs. Jean-Jacques Rousseau cries out against this luxury, aspiring that we would do much better to give to the children, a stick of licorice and small branches of trees with their fruits and their leaves. What would he have said if he had known these surprising toys, come from Germany, as this house bought by the duke of Penthièvre, and brought to his little girls of the convent of Bellechasse? Having made these play a spring, the door opened, and they seen " horrible choses ", according to the expression of Leo Clarétie. The duke made a disease, and the court ébaudit of his misadventure.

Jean-Jacques spoke in the desert. Everybody was on the plot; the biggest artists were interested in toys as Boucher, or put them in beautiful place in their works as Chardin, Moreau Le Jeune and Debucourt, who owes fashionably New Year's gifts one of his most beautiful engravings in colors, Le compliment ou lamatinée du jour de l’an 1787, with his attractive fair, pink, bluish colorings, the grace of his cheerful toddlers, the emotion of the grandfather and the grandmother, the gentle sight of the old servant which brings the meal and the promises of the cupboard full of toys.

Visites du jour de l'an par Hippolyte Leconte  (1810 )

Under the revolution, the craze continued, but in the intimacy only ; because the assemblies nearly marked no occasion their unwillingness against this old custom. Craftsmen showed themselves accommodating; they made for the children small guillotines, Phrygian caps, heads of pigs which represented illustrious characters, bastilles in miniature, card gamed of the philosophers who replaced the four kings, and especially Cobentz or ssL’ Emigrette, which we played by singing on the air of Marlborough: 

                L’général s’en va-t-en guerre
                Mironton tonton mirontaine
                L’général s’en va-t-en guerre
                Avec royal Bourbon,

                Avec royal Bourbon
                Et le royal pituite,
                Mironton tonton mirontaine

                Et le royal pituite

It was rebellious toys. During the Empire, they were warlike as it understands easily. Mister Henri Bouchot reports that marshal Davout made present to his grandson, thirteen-month-old, of a drum, a trumpet and a textbook of the perfect non-commissioned officer, where " he will teach he said, that to serve well his sovereign, it is necessary to be without fear and without criticism ". The children received wooden sabres, artillery of sugar, regiments and pewter battalions, drums, curlpapers in Wagram, dragées of Austerlitz, small Vauban, the military puzzle, the game of the battles, dedicated to the nice since Clovis until our days.

The only dolls made an exception to this heat warrior, " trollops" in linen body, in head arms and wooden legs, badly cut, rough-hewed hardly "beaten in Titus, in Greek, and which rest " on a foot which maintains them in balance and up in a funny steepness ".

It is the candy which take it since the Empire, and the games surely, as tried hard to be the Restauration and the July Monarchy. Desrosiers Au Fidèle Berger, street of the Lombards, Peisey-Nancroix, the manufacturer of chocolate, street Thévenet, N 11 in Paris, Delorier, to "  Both shepherds ", Créteil, street Mount pride, Lacroix, in the dream, is the day victors. They are only candies of the duchess of Angoulême, Sucre of apples to Marie-Antoinette, juice of licorice in The Royal, the pastilles of absinthe in The napoléonide; fondants on the return to Lilies, then in The constitutional Charter, in the tribe, the etc.aux Hero of Pottery goblet; So it is true as the politic insinuates itself everywhere where it has only to make, penetrating even into confectioners' shops! It is moreover advisable to notice that the year-end truce was convenient to it.

Le compliment ou la matinée du jour de l'an 1787
D'après une estampe de Debucourt

The games surely, they are the cardboard actors for the theater of fantoccini, cardboard theater for the childhood; boxes of magic, decorated with a drawing; lanterns with projection; the game of the obelisk; the game of railroad " traced on the rudimentary cars tried between Paris and Saint Germain, without disaster however, and in it our fathers showed more tact than pleasant sceptical of today, who did not move back in front of this macabre silly thing. As previously the artists were not made for lack of being interested in New Year's gifts; it is Tony Johannot and Devéria, who decorate the boxes of candy; Hippolyte Lecomte represents children wishing the new year to their grandparents, but with which lesser charm that Debucourt! It is Gavarni, who in 1825, enjoies composing a board of puppet theater, today extremely rare, and looked for with sourness by the collectors; It is Raffet, the painter of the battles of the Revolution and the Empire that decorates with marionettes the title of some of his albums; and how many others else!

For some time, the industry of toys undergoes a crisis. Is the imagination in court, and the article of Paris, known for the whole world, is it decreasing? Did not we deceive useful New Year's gifts, and of these conceited scientific toys, which teach nothing, and amuse at all? Where the spirits became so gloomy, where they do not know how to amuse themselves any more of this charming nothingness, which block the sheds of Christmas! 

This year, on the official initiative, the artists, the members of the Institute, Gérôme, Blocked, Detaille, Coutant, etc.mettent the hand to the dough, as formerly to Block: excellent initiative, provided that so much honors do not hoist an art made by primesaut,
by beautiful humor and by casualness.

Georges Riat

In an article published  in " La Vie Illustree "  in 1901

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