Already some years ago, friend interested in the antique dolls showed me a doll SFBJ of small size, quite articulated, with head in biscuit marked SFBJ / R / 60 / PARIS and the number of the size 4/0. Anything of extraordinary, front view, but this friend drew my attention on the posterior face. The back of the doll presented an rectangular opening surrounded with a metal patch on which was registered " YEUX MYSTERE" and initials R.S. / B.D. Of the slot went out a pull pendulum which manifestly served for closing or opening the eyes of the doll. I did not remember having seen same mechanism on a doll SFBJ. Mystery remained complete. At this moment, my husband studied patents taken by the manufacturers for the eyes of dolls and it was easy to him to find a patent taken by certain Charles Le Bos d' Espinoy in 1923.



Here is the simplified study which he drafted then for the book " in October, 1985.

" Des yeux pour les poupées".

So, we can see in this patent that the control lever served for opening and closing eyes independently of the position of the doll and which by an ingenious system of added supple stalk, the little girl could also move eyes laterally in will. Quite very discreetly because holding the doll in the arms, she could of a hand crossed between clothes at the level of the waist and from behind, to activate the control lever from top to bottom or / and from right to left and conversely, so that the doll could seem alive for her little friends . It was magic, it was mysterious, where from the name given by the inventor of "Poupée Mystère "





We found accidentally an advertising sheet (See above) dated 1923 of this doll mystery where one learns that the doll is made by the "Fabrique Française des Yeux d'Expression " ; steered by C. Le Bos d' Espinoy, 4 Rue Capron, in Paris. We looked for him vainly in the column of the manufacturers of dolls of this year and even of the following one, but we did not find anything. It would be necessary to look for at address, Rue Capron, to know since when Charles Le Bos d' Espinoy had based his factory and how long it lasted..

By looking for in the catalogs of the department stores of 1922 and 1923 we had more chance.

These dolls were well commercialized under their name of " "Poupée Mystère " and sold to the store " Le Bon Marché " in 1922 and to " Palais de la Nouveauté "( Dufayel department stores ) in 1923. They are indicated as Novelty, presented either in shirt and Tibet or natural hair wig , in 4 or 6 sizes from 32 to 52 cms, or in " rich dressing sport ", natural hair, size 33 cms

We meet them in the may/june rate 1923 of the Factory, under the name of Bébé Expression" "the King of the Babies ". Here, there were three sizes : 42 , 45 and 48 cms. We find them also in black doll and in Pierrot. . Who made really this " Poupée Mystère" ? The only dolls which one finds at present with this patented system, are a lot of manufacture SFBJ. That gave to think to an happy owner of one of these dolls of size 27 cms, what she had one " Bleuette Mystère ".



I think that Charles Le Bos d'Espinoy, inventor of this mechanism, did not make his dolls, but that he bought from the SFBJ a pack of dolls and assemble his mechanisms in his factory, as his name indicates it

" Fabrique Française des Yeux d'Expression "

We hope that mystery is raised partially, it remains to know what means letter R.S./ B.D registered on the metal patch. Rebus to be resolved.

To end, we indicate to happy owners of these dolls their rarity. They are certainly rarer than many Bleuette, but one can more easily date them because they had a period limited enough around 1922 - 1923.


Anne Marie POROT &endash; mars 2000


Dans un catalogue de 1923 :

All the photos which we were able to realize of various dolls of this type which we had between hands well show <. R.S.B.D > and < YEUX MYSTERE > on the patch of the mechanism, as well as you can see .

R.S...? B.D...? Bos d'Espinoy ? Besides, the Doll of our friend D. B-R, consisted of a head of the SFBJ and a..... German body on which was manifestly transplanted system, proves well that one could adapt this mechanism to the body of quite other doll..

And the advertisement which you can see and which is extracted from the newspaper LILI of August 17, 1922 (n ° 147) clarifies that this mechanism was rewarded for the golden medal of our famous " Concours Lépine ". We got in touch with organism which administers this venerable Institution to know the exact year of this reward. Searches are current and we shall be informed probably before the end of the year..



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