" The world of dolls presents this peculiarity that progress or competition would not know how to have there any place. Every doll is for the life, riveted to the caste where she was born, and she will always keep the arms in matches or her bust in skin of foal, her cardboard or porcelain face, hopeless to change anything it.." (Léo Claretie)

There exist attaching dolls, very moving, about which one speaks very little. However they were genuine popular toys, without claim: " poupards " ( untranslatable old French word = popular dolls ). Mr BAZIN, well- kown, in December 1998, offered to the Cercle Prive de la Poupee an article on this subject. He appeared interesting to us to resume his study by associating there an elementary approach, ABCs of a little known subject, but also of the elements taken with other sources, in particular Leo Claretie.
We begin this site with this old and splendid lament. Very rare and very soft, Poupendol recommends it to all those which play of an instrument. It is simple and does not forget itself. It is extracted from the collection " The song of Joujoux " poesy of Jules Jouy and music of C.L. White and L. Dolphin, illustrations of Adrien Marie



Nowadays, " Poupard " , very old French term, is generally used to indicate the dolld very stiff, out of " papier-mache ", sometimes without legs and even without arm, naively painted, with the colours Nets and without nuances, with the coarse features, generally dating from the beginning of the century. However as of the first years of this one, it more generally gathered thedolls with legs swaddled in blankets, or the " Bebe-Culotte " , finally " Bebe-Promenette ".

Why, steep as a cudgel, cramped, without legs, often without arms, did the poupard so for a long time remain beside the beautiful doll? Without going back up in the ancient time, the "  poupard " seems to be inspired by these wooden hardly sketched skittles.
He is inspired also by the way in which one wrapped up the infants to avoid the deformations of members. And it is probably reason number one of the success: he is the baby of the child.

The "poupard " develops everywhere, because moulding is a known technique, materials (waste of paper, pasteboard, sometimes plaster) are easy to work and cheap. The " poupard " becomes popular and rural: let us remind that in the middle of XIX-th century, in 1861 for example, the countrymen represent 71 % of the French population.

Ci-contre : Photo A.BAZIN




For a farmer, the " poupard " is simple of aspect, so honest and not conceited as these dolls " pretentious women " whom one proposes to the city. Furthermore, it is not fragile - although he is afraid of the water -, and he is not expensive..

The problem of clothes explains the second reason of his success. Sometimes ingeniously painted, "clothes" are extremely simplified, and when they are sewn, they keep this "home-made" side, little sensitive to the quite last fashion; they are in good wool or in true cotton, ever silk noisy which could give ideas of luxury to the young girls. Because the toy seen by the relatives must at first be moral. For the children, it is different: to play with a no much fragile " poupard ", it is power to play freely without being scolted all the time.t.





We owe in Leo Claretie the description of a factory of " poupards " :

"I see again the factory .......

A sort of alley separated the studio of the rich dolls and the studio of the cheap dolls.

This last one was so in front of the other one. One noticed at once that one was at the proletarian's. It did not reign this neatness and this luxury which one saw opposite. Everything was dark, muddy, without care. A drive belt animated of perpetual a movement of rotation of palettes in a tub where mixed a mud which people in hoofs and big linen aprons pulsed in buckets. As these buckets overflowed, one waded quite all around on a ground flask, yellow and sticky. The other workers filled tubs with buckets of water with scooped of a sort of ochre colour ground mixed and arranged in heap in a corner of the hangar.

Under another hangar, workers filled with this dough mixed with moulds where from took out halves of the dolls. Close, women stuck together right halves and left halves, to make ugly yellow chubby-checked doll which one aired after having them burred.

Once dry, the poupard was plunged into a bath of pink colour, dried still, then delivered to set painter: their office was to prick the paintbrush two red points for lips, two for nostrils, two blue or black points for eyes.."

Photos Ci-contre et ci-dessous

" Painters set prefer the blue eyes because the black colour is "more runing". They also have to make eyebrows; they are of small very moved closer black lines, that it is necessary to make very regular. Every Monday, there were always scenes, because most of the workers, Sunday, were going in the theater or the campaign; they lay late, and the following morning their hand quivered. So the eyebrows of Monday were not worth anything, and the manageress of the studio muttered ..........
It often happened us that series of bare dolls which were still more hideous than ours; they were those that the owner hugged dirt-cheap in prisons. They were boorishly made, badly decayed, with rolls of flesh along sutures, contorted face, deformed members. It was for me a suffering to manipulate and to dress these" poupards " . It seemed to me that I dressed dwarfs and monsters. And I pitied the poor children to whom one would give these horrible models for companions of their games and their thought.
" (Léo Claretie " Linette, Mémoires d'une enfant de Paris " )

Under this generic term, " Poupard " lived, seems it, of 1880 (Bebe-Maillot) at 1923 and perhaps a little more (Bebe-Promenette), while passing by the Bebe-Culottes (1896 - 1923). Rudimentary and obsolete doll, the" poupard " was then the doll with a penny, the doll of poor. Probably very widespread in France by the travelling merchants, it reflects well, I believe, which was the popular art of our country as regards toys. I find deeply moving this pretence by all little baby in his deep and charming naivety.

Often without any articulations, in particular on the Bebe-Maillot of course, it has some sometimes but very rudimentary, with the head and the shoulders, and even more rarely with the hips. They are generally carried out by a large hook in thick wire turned to the hand, which holds the head after a fashion, or connects the two arms through the trunk.

Some of them were sometimes sold equipped with clothing very coarsely carried out but do not present the same attraction as the " poupards " described below:




Le Bebe-Maillot (The Baby-Shirt) (1880-1910)

At the beginning, in France, this name was usually used for a doll swaddled in blankets. But it was also applied to a doll with " leading string" (harness) allowing to transport it or to trail it. In 1885/1886, the Bebe-Maillot made in Paris was presented, in a publicity made by Le Petit Saint Thomas" ( The Small Saint Thomas Stores) ; like unbreakable, articulated, with undressly blankets. There existed in four prices.

In 1906, publicity of the " Trois Quartiers" praised a Bebe Maillot with harness and a mechanism with key for walk. Note, a similar baby was discovered with a head " Simon & Halbig" (Cf Coleman ibid p.113).



Le Bebe-Culotte (Baby-Breeches) (1896-1923)

It is a registered trademark for a Baby carrying a moulded buttoned layer, with usually a bonnet of child and sometimes a harness. These dolls were sold in the majority of the Parisian department stores. They had heads, either in composition, or out of biscuit.

" Printemps" , " La Place Clichy " ,, " Bon Marche " ...etc.. all sold some. In 1909, the " Louvre" had an important stock. " Printemps" he marketed the Bebe-Culotte" with characterised head. Even at " Roullet-Decamps " , " L'Intrepide Bebe " (the Intrepid Baby ) was worked like a Bebe-Culotte rwith biscuit head from " Simon & Halbig" .
Expensive seems to have been that of the " Place Clichy". It measured is 27 cm (Hold like " Bleuette" ! ), that is to say 35 cm.
That represented opposite, has around the size a red braid, nailed, remains probable harness of origin.


(1906-1923 and perhaps a little later)

It is a Baby similar to those called " Bebe-Culotte " during the former time. He all in composition, articulated, was equipped with a harness and was distributed by " Trois Quartiers" , " Louvre" , the " B.H.V" and " La Ville de Saint Denis".

In 1915, there always existed, and even in bigger size (57 cm), but was then speaking and going. The term of " Bebe-Promenette" appeared in particular in the catalogue of New Year's gifts 1921 of the " B.H.V". and in that of 1923 of " La Place Clichy ".




The " poupard " had so numerous qualities. Did he evolve ? Yes, and as the doll, with the acquisiton of movements, to make "alive". In 1844, Rousselot (Patent n ° 228 of October 15) would like to transform him there " mechanic poupards, with a hollow paste-board body, a bust of Germany with eyes of enamel and teeth, arms into wire covered with skin, forming together arms and hands, quite put on an iron train in three bearing pewter wheels one limps in which is a spring serving for putting in movement said wheels... a thread serving for raising and for falling arms... The said "poupard " is dressed in material of blue wool; apron in white batiste stocked with blue ribbons and by top the hat, a " chaperon " in the same material as the dress, stocked with a feather and with a lace of false silver. In the right hand is a hand drum. Dehais-Laforest in 1847 proposes " poupards of various kinds .".

In 1857, Hiecmann-Bataille manufacturer of dolls in skin, " bare and undressing " announces also " bends and striking poupards ". In 1861, Chalte-Leborgne proposes paste-board " poupards ". In 1866 Besse ( former house Raymondet), makes and sells children's toys, dolls and "  poupards " in movements. In 1867, Louis Danjard takes a patent ( numero 76.201 of April 25 ) for "  heads with hats or poupards ".

Waste of time... In 1878, with the arrival of the Baby JUMEAU, change is evident and Rossolin wrote in his " Report on the Trinckets " ( in french language : bimbeloteries ) : " Almost the kinds of dolls appeared in the Exhibition; however, we were able to notice some gaps, such as the paste-board very common doll grinds and the ancient poupard. It is true that these goods, although of a very modest price, are now abandoned, because one prefers them objects of the other much better made kinds and which are not much more expensive ".

Necessities evolved, toys also. In 1889, in the Exhibition, the poupard is seen as " the doll of the poor man ". In 1900, the reporter notices: " The guests of the World Fair of 1900 were able to admire ample one collections of dolls, babies and " mignonettes ", even the complete range since the cheap poupard until the beautiful elegant women dolls in 100 or 150 francs which know how to speak, sing, move eyes and head ". And then, Koustari, russian half- artisans/half-countrymen, expose poupards to " 4 pence " whereas those of the Siam, " surprising of life and the truth " are worth 6 or 7 pence ".

These low prices eventually interested Department stores, always worried to show them in their catalogs. It allows to sell better the more profitable average prices.

By 1894, they launch the "Bebes-Maillots ", half- poupards ( head and body in paste-board industry ),half-newborn with arms and shirt. Madam Henriette Le Montreer registers trademark " Le Trottin ".

The war of 1914, in a patriotic fervour, will bring a rediscovery of the poupard. In " l'Art Francais Moderne " (Les jouets de France) of 1916, one can read: " The popular doll does not exist... everybody knows the hideous "poupard " about 13 pence 13 , the passive gnome of painted paste-board, in shape of skittle that surmounts a head with dark hair, eyes as balls and two big red patches on cheeks. It is nevertheless him, loved creature, liked creature that dress and undress, that kiss and set with them in their bed thousand poor children whose relatives have never made purchases of toys that in the general store or in the rolling car of the peddler...

But nothing makes for it, this reflation will not last, the " poupard " is exceeded and condemned. Charged with childish feelings, full of hidden tenderness, the" poupard " always lives due to the collectors, little numerous, who look for him, save him, protect him, love him.







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