The name of Poulbot evokes, in France, the draughtsman humorist of the children of the streets of Paris, particularly Montmartre of the beginning of the XX° century. It would be almost to offend him to recall who was Francisque Poulbot.
Because he did not have an account in bank, that he had fun like a kid and had not taken no other social condition that the tolerance and charity lived, he falls under any tradition and belongs to any school, no side.
A committee created in his memory simply described as draughtsman. The drawing was for him, an irresistible vocation

A spontaneous instinct at the same time as atavistic attached him to the children. Son of teacher, born and mannered in a school, but not having adopted the career, they are the children of the street who Francisque Poulbot knows.
 Poulbot had multiple talents: poet, writer, patron of a dispensary for disinherited children. But it is by his drawings of kids, his “chaps” which he is known.

Poulbot is very often classified in the repertories like “humorist”. It is true, but it is too little. His humour was often “this male so sad gaiety and so deep, that when one has just laughed at it one would have in to cry ".

Attache with the children, attentive in their plays, Poulbot could not introduce the toy into the repertory of his creations. We know the drawings to him which illustrated the panoplies of sets of darts and shootings of Kratz-Boussac, publicities for manufacturers of toys of all kinds: doll's tea parties, cycles etc…
  In the years which preceded the Great War, Francisque Poulbot, good democratic but also good patriot, was very irritated, like so many others, Louis Lépine or Léo Claretie for example, by the influence of the German toy on the French market, also irritated by the lack of originality of creations beyond the rhine (one hardly started to know the babies character). His talent of artist inspired to him in 1912 - 1913, some models for, he said  “to replace in the department stores, the German puppets with the dirty wig and the idiotic air ".
 During their creation, he had had to speak about it with his  contacts in the world about the toy and the child because a note, not signed, in L’Art et l’enfant (n°5) of November/December 1913 announces, with photograph support, and under the title “Nénette et Rintintin”:

 “ The dolls of Poulbot, these famous dolls which one spoke so much, are finished. The humorist had really modelled the heads  when he left to the sea (Mr. and Mrs. Poulbot often spent their holidays to Brittany), but it remained to dress these little chaps; it was a pleasant homework vacation . The fresh villa with the gray roof, all surrounded by red fuschias red and white daisies, became a seam workshop . Mrs Poulbot cut a splendid blue apron for the girl, and for the boy, a superb sailor suit that Poulbot, with gouache, decorated with beautiful white anchors.     They baptized them called Nénette and Rintintin; Nénette is the girl's name, and Rintintin that of the boy ".

Here, the author of the note makes a small treason, towards the father of these subjects; Public notoriety is known, that enters them, Francisque Poulbot called his wife Rintintin, her called her husband Nénette. And when, in his collection of 1916  “ Still of the kids and of chaps “, Poulbot presents them, and does it as follows: “ Rintintin little devil, named Mrs Durenaud, Nénette with its carrot hair.
  This document of L’ Art et l’enfant “ has a great importance to define with precision the state of origin of Nénette and Rintintin de Poulbot.

  If Nénette  and Rintintin were ready in 1913, they were not the only models of this exceptional creator whom one sometimes describes as artist, sometimes of humorist: With the various talents who he had, our draughtsman poet-humoriste added that of sculptor. He presented in 1908, to the Salon of Humoristes, under the title “ L’ECOLE “, 18 small dolls which ;here his  own terms:
    “ Before the war, I had eighteen children,  fine young men, beautiful small girls, because they were like those of Paris, Montparnasse, Javel and the Villette” (…) eighteen kids and chiks of who I preserve the memory and photograph ".
   “The elder one was called Sansonnet. Sansonnet which always drew the tongue, had the knobs vermilioned and  green eyes like its beret. The fist closed on its rule gross like a Swedish match, the cross “Au Mérite (With Deserve )" on its gray pullover, its satchel in shoulder-belt, it went to the school facing the rain under its cap doubled red flannel."

" Tall Pilefer followed it. Pilefer which is called also the infernal destructive child Coco, had the long figure and pants in skin of glove.

    You did not know Momo, the brunette with clogs, and its sister twin Zizine which had a spot of ink on its white apron? Nini the princess clothed  of velvet ruby dress and fine yellow boots, which liked so much Caran d' Ache? The kid Fanfois , the little brother of Baba, proud of its kepi of schoolboy."

 " There was also Moutchou, said the Fly, which had the air of a white Negro and carried shoes of priest " (to the time, one called “moutchou”,  a small grocer North-African). “Lili with its small plait tail of rat, tied up of a thin azure ribbon, and its too long dress, color washed blue, exceeding of its too short black apron. …. 

The small kid, that one did not know if it were a boy or a girl, but which had a toothache--->  

 “Thus these dolls, baptized “Poulbots” by Henri Lavedan, I modelled them, daubed, capped, fitted and equipped, why? (…). To make alive headstocks, headstocks of good not leaving taste not uniform mould which gives them with all the same one convex face, the head punt closed by a stopper of cork, the stupid face and the eye of hen bordered of lashes in teeth of comb “.

Ci-dessus : Voir le châle tricoté par Mme Poulbot

Ci-contre: Détail des chaussettes et des chaussures.

Here Poulbot, pushes perhaps a little far criticism. In 1910-1913, the industrial dolls had certainly it monotonous face and a little stupid air. But they all could have brown or fair hair (only the “carrot hair” did not exist yet). One could dress all them with our own way. As for the eyes, the collectors know how much were moderate their colors and theirs decorations, and that the lashes were not always in teeth of comb since it was not taken less than one hundred patents, only in France, to give more truth and of naturalness to the movements of the eyes and eyelids.

“ Then I wanted to put in the arms of the little moms, to whom  Father Christmas did not bring any more but of dreadful Cadum babies, an offspring to their image, brown or fair, skinny or plump person, with the mean or chubby face, the brown or blue eyes. Anna, which has the pointed nose, must to have a poupard with a muzzle  weasel-faced. Zozo must cherish and lay down in his cradle one “pépée” with the gilded hair like it. Dadée will make dresses and will knit slippers for its small Dadée tiny like it ".

Of these 18 figurines, some probably were sold or given at the time of the Salon and 6 were still in 1987, in possession of the heirs to their author.
There would be thus still twelve existing figurines. Six were sold at Auction-room in Chartres -May 1993- and are currently at French collectors.

There would be thus still twelve existing figurines. Six were sold at Auction-room in Chartres -May 1993- and are currently at French collectors.

These figurines were they models intended for industrial exploitation? The fact is established for Nénette and Rintintin, realised by the SFBJ. But others?

But these models were not realised “the war has all disturbed” said Poulbot. Only NETTE and RINTINTIN were really made. An agreement was very quickly found with the SFBJ in 1913 which put at once the model in manufacture, under number 239. Rather rare fact, the marketed head of the babies carries the signature of the draughtsman author, in hollow on the nape of the neck.
 So that the toy is in the catalogues New Year's gifts of the Department stores during the Christmas 1913.
The hope of marketing is probable since the marks were deposited twice.

On August 2, 1913, for a POULBOT, a POULBOTTE,

On June 18 1918 for:

  The little Kid
Ground bag, Pilefer;  Coco and Diabolical Coco, Break Ali, Starling, Nini and Nini the Princess,  Moutchou and Moutchou the Fly, Lili, Rintintin, Nenette, Baba, Fanfois, Zizine, Momo.Nenette

These dolls should not have had much success, one will not find any more these babies announced in catalogues of New Year's gifts of the following years; only exception, with the Galeries Lafayette for 1919, one finds Nénette and Rintintin which, although having a “Poulbot head”, have a fantaisy cloth  and wigs which more hardly look like Poulbot of 1913.

And then Poulbot deplores more especially that the war has very disturbed, that Nénette and Rintintin, well far from remaining an exclusiveny of porcelain dolls, became during the war of innumerable fetishes of bits of wool, amulets dedicated to the godmothers of war and with the protection of the Parisian populations against bombardments of the “Grosse Bertha” . This unforeseen destiny is told in number 51 of the review " L’Ami du Jouet " (Friend of the Toy- April 5,1987).

Last facet finally of the multiple applications of the talent of draughtsman Poulbot in the world of the Toy : the decorations that he composed for the stands of various manufacturers for the International exhibition of Decorative Arts of Paris in 1925.
.It is known, these stands appeared of small houses, we find their representations in a curious book heading “LA TRES VERIDIQUE HISTOIRE DE NETTE ET TINTIN VISITANT LE VILLAGE DU JOUET” ( “VERY VERACIOUS STORY OF NETTE AND TINTIN VISITING THE  VILLAGE OF  TOYS") collected by Henri Rene ANGAMELLA, Mayor of the Free Commune of JOUJOUVILLE. It is in fact an amusing report for children of this Exposition, made by Henri Rene d’Allemagne(1927).

 And to finish with this attaching presence of Poulbot family in the  World Toy, let us announce that it exist in Strong Museum of Rochester (USA) a doll of felt appearing to date from the years 1930 bearing on chest a label mentioning: “ZOZO drawn by Poulbot ". A photograph of this doll appears in new Encyclopaedia of the Dolls (vol.2) of Coleman. We could not yet found another specimen of thisdoll in France, at least authenticated by its
( ZOZO was the nickname of the girl that Mister and Madam had adopted.) 


 There were other dolls which have the name of Poulbot. In particular those which were carried out by Gaston Decamps, which are  really  mechanical toys. The dolls are balanced by a movement side, the girl holds a baby in celluloid in her arms, the boy carries a satchel on the back. The heads are a sculpture of Gaston Decamps, artist and robotics specialist.


                     Anne-Marie POROT

                         ( )

Sources bibliographiques

L'AMI DU JOUET – Bulletin de la Société des Amis du Jouet. Paris, n° 90—50 et 51
(déc. 1986 et Mars 1987)
L'ART ET L'ENFANT – vol IX, n° 51, nov/déc. 1913
D'ANGAMELLA Henri René – La très véridique histoire de Nette et Tintin visitant le       village du jouet – 1927, chez  Schemit libraire à Paris
COLEMAN D.A. & E. – The collector's encyclopedia of dolls – vol.II, 1986 –Crown           publishers, New York
POROT Jacques et Anne-Marie – Les poupées mécaniques de Roullet-Decamps – CRPJA-1986
POROT Jacques et Anne-Marie – Poulbot Jeux et Jouets – CRPJA - 1987
POULBOT Francisque – Des gosses et des bonshommes, sans date (1917 ?) – publié par       l'auteur
POULBOT Francisque – Encore des gosses et des bonshommes, sans date (1917 ?) publié     par l'auteur
POULBOT ZOZO - POULBOT, mon père des gosses –– Editions Astrid – 1982

            BON MARCHE 1914,1917,1918
            PRINTEMPS 1914
            GALERIES LAFAYETTE, 1914, 1919
            LOUVRE, 1914
            SAMARITAINE, 1914
            A LA PLACE CLICHY, 1914
            de Ventes Galerie de Chartres – mai 1993