Un tres rare Steiner : Le Siffleur

"Salut, Gavroche ! "

by Samy ODIN


t is sometimes objects which seem to choose you to continue with you or by you, their road in this world. It is case of the whistler STEINER that it is pleasant to me to present you here. This small character more than centenarian intrigued me for already some years, when I devoured Dorothy Mc Gonagle's remarkable work on the production Steiner. She there repertorie a whistler of which she explains functioning by a sketch, but of which she shows a photo which illustrates, apparently, a copy assembled on a body not of origin. By verifying in the encyclopedia Coleman information relative to this doll, I noticed that they rested, regrettably , on the same specimen in the erroneous body. Dissatisfied, I tried to find the other whistlers STEINER in my documentation but unsuccessfully. A little while later, here is that private individuals address the private clinic of the Musee to restore a doll of family, with the aim of negotiate it then: the whistler STEINER of my dreams! I played frank game: except the wig and the missing beret, the doll did not need a restoration; being interested to acquire it in the state I do not establish so any estimate and refused to make them an offer, by clarifying to them that at any time their price, in reasonable limits, would be mine. And they left... And I was afraid of never seeing again them.... Months passed and, law of series obliges, I fell on the photo of another whistler STEINER in an American catalog of auction: it was from completed sound state of origin, dressed in cook's dress and proposed to an estimation in dollars very dissuasive for the pockets of the small European that I am. I gave up going over the cook.... And began again to dream about " Titi Parisien ".

ome days only passed by and here is that in the other end of the thread a known voice asked me for a meeting for " our story of whistler " (I would need caricaturist's talent to describe you my head at this moment there!)... about two years had passed by since our first interview. The whistler had a little changed: one had it remake its elastics (which were not nevertheless so used and one had stuck on it (if, yes! and in the very powerful glue) natural steep hair as "spaghetti", although in the recollection of the owners, it wore a wig in mohair a little ruffled as well as " Titi Parisien's " cap, which explains the name with which it had been baptized:" Gavroche " ( Street urchin ). Fortunately, it always wore the clothes of origin (!!!). Apparently our "finch" had meanwhile gone round of Paris: from clinic to specialized shop, by way of Flat markets and of the Auction room, the owners had finally calculated their requirements and chose the Museum as ultimate house as their " Gavroche ". It is there henceforth exposed since last April 3. Here is for the circumstances of the adoption of our whistler STEINER. But let us come there now to the description: rare, even exceptional, this whistler STEINER dates the time when the widow Lafosse steered the famous Parisian company, namely from 1892 till 1899. One did not find a patent deposited by the manufacturer for this system but mark in the red inking-pad LE PARISIEN, affixed on the nape of the neck, allows to date exactly this doll with head in pressing biscuit, contemporary of the first babies - character of JUMEAU, the double-face babies BRU and the other " expressive olls of the end of the XIXEME century, as well as STEINER's determinedly realistic models (such the servicemen and the other male subjects). The interest of the specimen presented here resides on one hand, in the state of origin completed (head, bodies and clothes are rigorously authentic, on the other hand in the direct origin of the family which possessed it since about 1OO years..



yes are fixed in enamel blue iris, lashes and finely painted eyebrows. The opened mouth suggests effectively the expression of a whistler. From the inside of this one a pipe, today disintegrated, and penetrating into the skull by a circular hole at the level of the nape of the neck, had to connect a whistle contained in the hollow of the mouth in a rubber pear inserted into a cavity situated in the back. Technically, the system of the whistler distincts itself from the patent of " BRU sucking babies " which contained all the mechanism in the skull, and anticipates that adopted in 1910 by the S.F.B.J. for second sucking baby. This pear gave some breath to the whistle of the mouth! Rubber parts had obviously to dry out and to fall in dust. No whistler listed this day seems, indeed, to have kept its intact mechanism. One will never know if " Gavroche" whistled as a finch or as a pig!!!....

Measuring 33 centimeters ( only known size), the trunk and the members are in composition. Arms and legs are steep. The dress of origin in thick brown canvas is consisted of a simple jacket without collar, a trousers as a "zouave", a pair of socks of matched colour and a pair of boots in rather rudimentary brown skin. In the recollection of its ancient owners, misses so only the cap which this small boy wore when it was offered to one of their ancestor at the very beginning of XIX th century ......




Directeur du Musée de la Poupée Paris

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Avec les cheveux "spaghetti" !