This article looks like very long but it seems to me essential for the history, and I think that this modest toys deserved to be placed under " Limelight "

        In the catalogs of toys of french " Grands Magasins " , between the two world wars, it is often stated of " Toys made with the Disabled ex-service men ". On this subject, we propose you a very wide extract of Mr Edmond POTTIER's article, in the rare buletin published in 1916 by " L'Art français Moderne " (The Modern French Art ).

« Is it well the hour of occcuper of toys? When millions people cut one another's throats, when bereavements press on so many hearts, when the mothers cry, what irony to think of the means to amuse the children !

« Let us answer at first this objection of feeling by a reason of feeling. The child, with the smile and the big confident eyes, does not he have to stay except the sadnesses which besiege us ? Moreover, is not it the one who consoles all the sorrows ? The cheerfulness guarantees our force.

« Let us give also reasons of professionalism and current events: toys are a business which lives, in these difficult hours, many women and wounded persons, which feeds number of underprivileged artists whose hideous distress hides from the eyes of the world. The toy, finally, is an element of our industrial activity....

« That's why the " Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs " ( Central Union of Decorative Arts ) took, in full war, the initiative to organize an exhibition of toys in " Pavillon de Marsan  "
« Toys divide into two different categories : there is a toy for the children and, have no fear to say it, there is a toy for the grown-ups. I understand those wich are intended to stay between the hands of the small and to amuse them, that they are sold expensive or cheap; the others are considered as objects of luxury, objects of art to be put in shop window, acquired by amateurs or collectors. Both industry should be encouraged and get profits important for our country, but it is clear that they obey preoccupations and different rules.
« Let us take charge of the childish toy. It is the most interesting, it represents the most plentiful production. But here, do not we have another to distinguish two series ?

1 ° the popular toy made in very cheap to be sold in the small boutiques and the general stores, accessible to the most modest purses.

2 ° the rich toy intended for the easy classes, whom, without reaching the prices for the objects of collection, arrives at a rate allowing the use of more beautiful materials and the competition of more skillful workers. All these different categories, we found them in the exhibition ......

« But in this set, the palm returns without hesitation to " l'Atelier des Soldats Mutilés de la Guerre " ( Workshop of the Soldiers Mutilated by the War ) that steers Mr Lebourgeois, assisted by Mrs Jaulmes and Rapin. The Union of Decorative arts reserved it a place of honor, the " Salon Carré " which the guest reaches at the end of walk: 

« In the hall where the day falls sieved by skillful ceilings materials, under a portico supported with elegant lacquered small columns, the eye perceives at first as an aviary of multicolored birds: macaws, cockatoo, parrots of any nuances, where the dark overalls, the clear azures, yellow lively, the burning red, the soft pink get involved and collide, black swans and white gooses, small emerald green ducks or old golden, spreading their brilliant or burning, smooth or ruffled plumages. Opposite, it is the fantastic army of elephants, gone up on roulettes, which align in massive battalions their armoured backs . Here nature did not impose its rules on the manufacturer: red, green, blue, black, yellow, it is the complete range of the colours which deceives on these sturdy animals, of which funny heaviness and the small roguish eye form a delicious contrast where the art of the decorator finds to exercise.

« In the centre, here is an ornamental lake, made with an mirror where are sparkling rows of ducks and of oisillons; on the lawn of green herb which surrounds it wide sheets are sowed) where run gigantic lady-birds, whose size grows shouts of surprise to the children who anticipates in the entour. In the embrasures of windows, small bedrooms are arranged: served tables, tea parties, sideboards stocked with earthenware, small armchairs wait for the young dinner guests,... until the cuckoo which beats hour in a corner.

« It is a fair for the eyes that these sets where the private life of the childhood is presented under an aspect of gaiety and healthy elegance. And we do not have to forget here the social and moral reach of the work. Behind these fresh toys, behind these graceful images of happy and exuberant childhood, we know what there is :

« A whole hospital of wounded persons, maimed persons, who, having made for the homeland the hard sacrifice of their sufferings and their mutilations, saw each other rejected in the life, without profession, without resssources. Brave and charitable souls were moved; they created this workshop which the " Union Centrale " took under its protection, they provided in the rehabilitation of all these unfortunates, they made artists of them, skillful decorators, under the behaviour of the excellent bosses whom we named. How not to be touched by this beautiful and generous initiative ? How not to admire the unhoped-for results which are owed to her ?..... Let us buy these toys made with the hands of French wounded persons, by thinking that they are hands wichwielded the rifle or fired the cannon of the Marne, Yser, Champagne, the Somme and Verdun.

« A sort of subsidiary of this moving institution found place in a room nearby. They are the wooden Arabic toys cut and painted, executed by " les Ateliers de Mutilés " of the city Alger, supervised by Mr Herzig. Silhouettes are there happy, the colours very funny, and give an exact ideaa of the picturesque realities in which the African region is so rich. »
This long and magnificent presentation of the Workshop of the disabled ex-servicz men is pulled from a rare book published by " L'Art Français Moderne "( Artistes et Editeurs Français ). Compound of various articles on the french toy during the Big War, this one was drafted in 1916.

This impulse for the benefit of the big disabled persons of time was strong enough and porter of hope so that we find, in the course of the various " Catalogues d'Etrennes des Grands Magasins " ( catalogs of New Year's gifts of Department stores ), numerous toys of this same workshop , and it, to after 1935.

So, the big french stores as " Les Galeries Lafayette ", " Le Printemps " or " Le Bon Marché " did not hesitate to save themself the exclusivity of a chamber or a dining room. The others as " Le Louvre " or " La Samaritaine " ordered also for holidays some of these charming toys which were so made during about twenty years.

It seems although these disappeared gradually when disappeared the wounded persons themselves, the last ones of them having been flooded in the second big conflict which ravaged again Europe from 1939.

At last, this article could not close without evoking the warlike toys. Did these big mutilated make it a lot ? often ? It acted probably of intimate, punctual realizations, to exorcise horror or to realize recollection. Certainly... There was, little certainly, but listed, in collections of toys, such this English tank, male - because bearer of two artillery, " LE STUPEFIANT " ( the "STUNNING" ). 

We present it under two different angles.
Dressed in the camouflage "Champagne", it was baptized " Crème de Menthe " ( Cream of Mint ) by the soldiers. What has to be the lid opened with the turret informs us very completely about its manufacture. Very moving toy ...... (1)


There were numerous and various organizations or war works. Nevertheless, among these, " it is advisable to make a wide place for the Workshops of the Mutilated, which have a strong part in the renovation of the French toy. One taught them to make toys to earn the keep by giving of the enjoyment to the children... The most important of these workshops was created by François Carnot, avenue Montespan. It took such an extension as it became a beautiful factory.

The " Jouet de France " presents the type of the modern factory and model. It is established in the gates of Paris, at the end of Puteaux's bridge, in the picturesque landscape of this suburb which blends trees, prairies, huts with the suburban streetcars and with the long smoky chimneys of the industrial factories. It is a big and pretty building in reinforced concrete, in walls ingeniously decorated, similar to a nef of cathedral without limping, with buttresses and artistic gargoyles....

All the staff is consisted of mutilated by the great war. The workers are distorted, amputated with an arm, with a leg, with a hand. Circulating in workshops pressed on two crutches, Mister Matthieussent, wounded person to Saint Mihiel in September, 1914, steers these people who are organized in cooperative. In a pretty dining hall, it is able to have for 2 fr, 25 a consisted meal of: hors d'oeuvre, meat, vegetables, dessert, a quarter of wine, coffee, bread with discretion. They will have soon baths and library. It is a model of installation. They are paid 1fr75 by hour. Here is the system which is to teach the mutilated a profession, to organize them industrially and not to let them count on the charity of a pension which will be necessarily insufficient. 

They make the wooden toy according to new and artistic models, established by Mister Bourgeois *, creator of this school, Mister Rapin, painter, Mister Jaulmes, with an ingenious and unpecedented taste. The paintings which decorate the white wood are at first tried on the toy itself , then raised to be copied. One judges so better the effect, and there is not from surprise to execution.

Everything is made on the spot. Trees arrive in raw trunks, and first work is to saw up in boards the wood in trunks. A special machine seizes the oblong stalks which cut the saw and restores them in shape of round sticks of all the calibres which one wishes.... The wood being ready, polished, details are assembled. The ended toy is decorated and painted then either in the hand, or with the electric graficspray.

What takes out of these multiple workshops where one sees nickel hooks replacing hands and arms; where the turner was before the war a waiter, and this decorator, a coachman of hackney cab?

Because they are all artisans of fresh date. No one had made this profession. Each learnt the using of machines and devices invented for mutilated. And they are fast real experts... Work is finished, well-kept, deserving of models which are proposed. They are of the prodigious variety, the unforeseen novelty, the indisputable artistic feature, so much for the grace of forms and lines, spiritual stylisation which interprets nature, which for the charming harmony of colours, the elegance of decorations. Cupboards of dolls have even ordered and executed as furniture for apartments and were to please so that a studio of furniture for grown-ups is going to be added to the workshop of toys! " LEO CLARETIE 

....*Mister Bourgeois indicates us the typical composition of a team of mutilated in " Jouet de France ": " to show which would be the proportion of the mutilated, let us take for base a team of six. Amputated with legs: 2 carpenters, 1 turner and 1 sculptor; amputated with an arm: 1 carver and 1 painter. If after a detailed study of the question, on one team of six individuals taken at random, one envisages the rehabilitation of a big number of mutilated in a school, one can estimate at six months at most necessary time. By incorporating them into the section of sculpture or simple paintings, one can use the work of the people for the first day, and as a consequence, salarier from the beginning, what will avoid in mutilated alone, (and it is an acquired fact), to be in state of inferiority toward his valid companion. "

Léo CLARETIE is not the only one to be made echo of the work of disabled ex-serviceman. In a charming work " Very veracious history of Nenette and Tintin visiting the Village of the Toy " (in the Exposure of 1925) Henri of GERMANY, under the pseudonym of " Henry Rene of ENGAMELLA " , maintains us one of the stands (in the form of " maisonnettes " ) which presents the toys of Mutilés. Poupendol is happy of being able to give you broad extracted:

We here is well far from the doll it seems, but it is also story of the toy! And a very justifiable emotion can only embrace us by reading this study.



(1) We thank for this rare information Robert Alazet, fine connoisseur of the Imperial Army and the least details of the armaments and the military uniforms.

(2) We thank so very warmly Anne-Marie Porot who allowed us to complete with a lot of accuracy the study of this workshop of the Mutilated that we are very happy to discover to you or to rediscover....


Exemple de "Nenette et Rintintin"
confectionnés "à l'arrière" en 14/18


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