The French artistic Toy
Poupendol recently took again, by enriching it, an article which it had already published,
on the Toys manufactured by disabled ex-servicemen of Great War.
A reader of Bordeaux, Daniel SALMON, contacted us, indeed, he carries out research on the objects
made in Bordeaux by the soldiers wounded and remained handicapped.
He authorized us to publish extracts of his future work
Poupendol thanks some very highly. .
The manufacture of toys by disabled soldiers,
during the First World War
We are in 1916, during the Great War. Many disableds arrive at Bordeaux far from the front, in an area known for its beneficial air. The city has several hospitals specialized in the great traumatisms and a school of rehabilitation directed by famous doctors.
Some patronesses of Bordeaux, under the impulse of Mrs Leon PROM decide to help the crippled soldiers and create “The Charity of the French artistic toy manufactured by disabled ex-serviceman”. They have then the idea to ask the military painter Job to draw models of new toys.
Job is the pseudonym of Jacques Onfroy de
He is a famous illustrator of books for children. He is very known and
estimated, even abroad and in particular in the United States to have
illustrated the life of Washington. When the Great War arrives, Job has
nearly sixty years but his ardour, his talent and his nationalism are
intact. He does not wish to remain inactive in this
conflict which mobilizes all the forces of the Nation. He is filled
with enthusiasm for this charitable work and offers many models to it
which will allow - according to the leaflet of the charrityshop - the
unhappy soldiers, to manufacture wooden toys and “to tear off themself
of misery, idleness and the discouragement”.
The toys are in beech, output with the mechanical saw then are painted with the stencil key set. The heads are manufactured with stamping désign .The ” Poilu ", the most desired toy, request for it only more than sixty handling. Disabled reached with the upper limbs, even those having only one arm, can “benefit from the important advantages which are offered to them”. They perceive wages five francs per day and take part for the benefits of the company.
A toy alone is sold between 2 and 6 francs. The animals on casters are worth from 10 to 15 francs. The prices of more sophisticated articles ( cattle shed, arch of Noah ) reach 35 francs.
This operation makes possible to emphasize the French industry of the
toy. Indeed, before the war, starting from Nuremberg, Germany floods
Europe. It develops, in this field a turnover six times higher than
that of France. However, in this time of extreme propaganda, it is
advisable to prepare the brains, including young people; The German
toys from now on will thus be sulked.
This manufacture of wooden toys by disableds is rather current. There exist charityshops in Algiers, Lyon, Dinard, Clermont-Ferrand, Limoges and Paris. Most important is “ Toy from France” in Paris. Created by François Carnot, Avenue Montespan, it quickly becomes a manufacture installed in Puteaux which employs disabled ex-servicemen exclusively (See the precedents Poupendol ).
For the production of Bordeaux, it does not seem that the diffusion is important. To the difference of its Parisian competitor the “Toy of France”, the catalogues of the Parisian department stores do not announce it. The sale was ensured by the store of charity.
Petite Gironde " ( title of a newspaper from the
Bordelais ) pressed the population of Bordeaux
to buy these souvenirs, specifying however that
“if stock is considerable our American friends undertake to reduce it to blow dollars”.
Draughtsmen and wooden.toys
Always in full war, with the exhibition organized to Paris in May 1916 by the Central Union of Decorative Arts to the " Pavillon de Marsan ", the section “Artistic Toys ” was very well commented:
visitors admire a village of Carlègle, the frigate of
coach of Andre Hellé and the camp of Tommies by
Arnoux. Job does not appear there yet (the workcharity of Bordeaux is
not operational). His toys will supplant soon in quality all the
One can notice and commented that this humane initiative is not special in France, In Belgium especially artists for children took part in similar steps of benevolence.
It is undoubtedly Caran d' Ache who, inspired by his native Russia, will conceive a series of dogs, elephants, bears with mobile head and other animals with casters. His friendship with Job will last until his death in 1909. It is probable that during the war Job remembered the wooden toys of Caran d' Ache. Such for example this pretty dog.
As you can see it above, the catalogues of New Year's gifts of the Parisian Department stores were made a long time the echo of these productions of our disableds Great War and this during several years after the end of this one.
Some, like " Le Printemps ", did not hesitate to devote their cover of New Year's gifts to these terrible events
The exact date of the closing of the workscharities of Bordeaux, not more than the number of manufactured toys, are not known. It seems to think that the death of Mr. Leon PROM, who as President of the Bank of Occidentale Africa, was to be the generous sponsor has speed up the end of the adventure. It comes at the time of the beginning of 1921.
Of this philanthropic and transitory episode there does not remain large-thing: the workcharity does not exist , absorbed by the close of the buildings. The splendid poster of Job, at the head of this site, is preserved in the museums.
One can admire some toys in the museum of Poissy. The collectors tear off them, when they find some one.....
| Above, drawing offered by Job in
1922 for the luxurious Review of Tourny Noël.
Even if the initiative appears limited well in this ocean of suffering which was the Great War, we will have a thought for these disabled ex-servicemen who saw a little their relieved misery, by the workcharities of toys and artistic objects, in several towns of France and Belgium, and in particular in Bordeaux..
P.S. Our visitors who would wish to take contact with Mr. SALMON will find his E.Mail here:
|Any reproduction rights
© Daniel Salmon. 2008