The manufacturers of XIX-th century tried hard to return their more and more attractive dolls, joints of bodies, more and more luxurious clothings, search for expressions of the face the most close to the reality and to the life. They were short only of speech. Ingenious inventors were used to it.



" Aerial period "


The first name generally quoted is Jean MÆLZEL. " Wishing to contribute as much as possible to the enjoyment of the children of France " He composed a mechanical child said " Talking Doll " which pronounces very clearly the words of " Dad " and " Mom. " He hurried to offer the first model to S.A.R. Duchesse de Berry, who was very satisfied with it as well as her august child (future Comte de Chambord).... " The system, as those that will follow until EDISON, turns around a bellows which sends of the air to an anche or a beak of flute. Follow one or several holes capable to be filled or not, to obtain nasales or labials . It is on this same principle that a big name of automatons, Alexandre Nicolas THEROUDE, " voiced " from 1854, certain of his creations, whether it is the sheep which bleats, the child in the cradle, saying "Dad" and "Mom", or the barking dog .......



On the left and below : Jumeau parlante. (Photos Farkas)

Marie CRUCHET (said "Père CRUCHET", because it was an ancient sailor of Trafalgar, reconverted in the manufacture and the repair of toys and automatons) had the merit to simplify the system of bellows (Patent of August 29, 1855), decreasing at the same time the cost price of the mechanism and the volume of this one.

Across the Rhine, the manufacturers were not out done : In Sonneberg, Christophe MOTSCHMANN, " bossierer " (" Worker in bosses ", modeller, manufacturer of objects in " pâte à sel ", pulp...), in 1857 , a patent for a mechanism saying " Dad ", " Mom ". Two threads allowed to act on eyes or voice.


Jules-Nicolas STEINER took in 1862 a patent for an " Automatic speaking Baby ", saying either " Mom ", or " Dad ", following that it lies or up. (The other authors indicate when the Baby was up it said " Dad " and " Mom ", and lamented when it slept. The two models were able to exist). Working was assured with a spring. In 1863, taken a new patent for a speaking mechanism was taken with threads this time. Before 1870, the doll speaks with bellows and to the cordon placed in its body, generally in its womb. By pull down the cordon, one activates the bellows, provoking so mechanical words. The firm BRU follows movement and puts deposits in 1867 a patent for a " Striking Doll ", and in 1872, a patent for a " Baby surprise " containing a musical mechanism.


Towards 1870-1890, at instigation of Jules-Nicolas Steiner, a clock machinery - and neither threads - is used to make speaking dolls. Situated in the body, it cheers up itself by means of a key. Sounds going out of the doll look like more groans than real words !

Then Edison and his phonograph came.....

Adjustment of the phonograph

Until then, the voice was not reproduced, but synthetized, more or less skillfully, more or less simply , by the passage of compressed air ( by a pear-douche, a bellows, a piston in a cylinder..... moved with thread, a spring...etc.) on an anche, or a membrane, or an association anche and pavilion with variable opening. With the invention ( et us say the "adjustment" of Charles Cros's invention in april1877 ) of EDISON, the voice was going to be recorded and reproduced and either " made ".

In the first machine, in December, 1877, Thomas Alva EDISON used a sheet of tin, not very musical. Hearing is improved by Charles Summer TAINTER who replaced this sheet by a cylinder of cardboard coated with wax. In 1888, William W. JACQUES, American citizen, gave up to Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company a patent associating doll and small phonograph.

Edison Doll-Phonograph launch on the market in 1889, with a Simon-&-Halbig bisque head. The small phonogqraph turned in the hand, the speed being settled with a small steering wheel of lead slowness. Wax cylinders did not resist to the dilation of the chuck door - cylinder ......


Reading the issue of April 26, 1890 of the review "Scientific American". In 1889, 500 talking and melodious dolls, would have been produced per day ! These dolls were assembled in West Orange ( New Jersey) with Simon & Halbig heads (Mould 719) or Heubach heads (Mould 224). They measured 22 inches (about 56 cms). Their success was very reserved : The cylinder covered with wax wore out quickly and was not removable. The set was rather fragile. On ten thousand dolls which would have been assembled, five hundred only were sold complete and almost five hundred were sent back by the disappointed buyers.



Genesis of the speaking Baby Jumeau


But the talking doll Edison had a big merit : To appear among phonographs in the Stand of the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris. Emile JUMEAU noticed this invention, already told with articles appeared in " L' lIlustration " and in " La Nature ". Wanting to assure the constant ascendancy of his firm, it is necessary put in his catalog of the Babies who speak really. He turns so to a watchmaker of big talent : Henri LIORET. ( In 1866, he is, in 18 years, the first of the promotion at the School of Besançon's Watch-making). Having opened the own clock maker's, he is known for the creation of a watch alarm clock " the Cricket ". He realized also, to order governmental, a clock offered to the Czar.

This one liked the wager which was subjected to him : to create a phonograph-doll, being able to be put between hands not always skillful of girls, of better sound quality than those existing, and not to be in the field of patents already taken by the competitors. He had then the idea to perfect not the mechanism even, but the process of recording.


Because the cylinder covered with wax wears out too fast and can not be copied, he directs the searches on the realization of cylinders exchangeable and able of resisting in childish enthusiasms. A first patent ( n°230.177 ) is put deposited on May 18, 1893, aiming to cover perfections bearing " first of all the construction of the cylinder or roller intended to receive the carving. " From a steel muff one obtains by copies of the steel cylinders also. On November 28, 1893, he takes an addition for the initial patent, for an original method of duplication of the recorded womb, which allows to produce celluloid cylinders in series, less fragile and less subject to the wear than the wax cylinders.

Reproduction in series cylinders had a big advantage : It allowed a single " grip ", the one that realized recording by engraving the soft iron womb. At the beginning of the wax cylinders, each of them must be recorded. Ten or hundred talking dolls required that is repeated ten or hundred times the same words, from that risks of hoarseness. It is reported that Kammer und Reinhardt, who exploited the gramophon with discs ( and not with cylinders ) of BERLINER had engaged a famous baritone, who at the end, victim of hoarseness, began cawing pitifully, got excited and threw the device by the window !

Mecanism put out of the body (Photo Farkas)

From his part Emile JUMEAU did not remain inactive. He selected a model, size 11, naturally with a open mouth head. To assure promotion and to realize a market research, he organizes a competition with the little girls in " Mon Journal " ( Issue of September 2, 1893). Object of the competition : Which are words, sentences which the small moms would like hearing in the mouth of their baby. Naturally the winner will receive one of the babies speaking Jumeau, to go out at the end of the year.


Everything was ready for Christmas 1893.

Advertisement was notably been supposed to be in a review of scientific popularization " Nature ", on December 9, 1893, as well as an advertisement appeared in " La Famille" of December 24. "Mon Journal", in the issue of December 30, boosts the interest of its young readers, initially aroused by the big Competition of September. Department stores (in particular, those of La Tour Saint Jacques) received speaking babies' prize, some privileged children saw Santa Claus depositing it in their shoes.... TheJumeau Phonograph Baby (which will become " Lioretgraph Bébé Jumeau " according to the Catalog LIORET) was launched.



Here is how this talking doll was presented at the time: < < The talking doll.:
< < The talking doll.

IlSome years ago, Edison had the idea to apply his magnificent phonograph to the preparation of dolls, and to make talking dolls. We described them three years ( 1 ) ago, but it seems that they worked only imperfectly ; and their manufacture was not continued. One of our known well Parisian manufacturers, Mr Jumeau ( 2 ), of whom we described the remarkable factory of dolls, has just realized, in France, what had been formerly begun in America, and he makes actually a talking doll, what is a small mechanical miracle. The phonograph employed by Mr Jumeau is built by Henri Lioret; it is the very light tiny device which is locked into the body of the doll, as shows it the figure 1. A leaky patch of holes which one sees down the drawing, serves of lock. Our figure 2 gives, to one more big turntable ladder, the detail of the used phonograph. One metal box B, whose top is provided with the cornet of echo and whose bottom has a point P, which is in touch with the phonographiq cylinder C. This cylinder is wrapped with the impressed ribbon. One turns up by means of a key a movement of clock; the release occurs by pulling a stalk A, the cylinder C begins turning and the phonograph works; and the doll begins speaking:


" " I am very satisfied, mom promised me to go to the theater, I am going to hear singing, tra, la, la, la, " and the doll begins to sing an artless song then it ends by saying: " Thank you my small mom ". Another doll will say to you " My small mom, listens my song: " Ah ! mon beau château, ma tante tire lire litre ! Ah ! mon beau château, ma tante tire lire lire l'eau " (Laughter ! ! ) oh! It is very funny, we shall visit Puppet theatre! (Laughter ! ! ). Phonographs are in advance impressed; the cylinders with which they are provided can be changed and give words and very varied songs. Printing is made by girls who are choosed for their clear and childish voices, sound of which adapts well to the charming doll. G.T. >>
Extracts from " La Nature, Revue des Sciences et de leurs applications aux Arts et à l'Industrie" (The Nature, Review of Sciences and their applications to Arts and Industry).



The sound producted was not very strong. A collector, Paul CHARON (" La Machine Parlante " -The Talking Machine - 1981) learns us that " the most ingenious in LIORET's mechanism is the use of the rib cage of the doll to amplify sound : the box-cornet provided directly with the point reader distributed it only with parcimony. Besides this doll did not allow to up the tone, it had been too well bred for it. This makes that, even in 15 cms, one does not understand a single word of what it says ". Sound did not have to be very understandable neither in first listening for the other persons because instructions , stuck in the lid of the delivery box, recommended " to understand well the first time it's better to read words registered on the cylinder put in the Baby "!

Jumeau improved the technique of reproduction of recordings, and took on September 5 and November 20, 1894 two patents.

However that may be, and in spite of the high price (49 F. in the launch, then 48 F.) it was the success, which survived (briefly it is true) at the Firm JUMEAU. The speaking Baby was still in sale at LIORET in 1900. We do not know if the used bodies resulted from stocks realized before the creation of the S.F.B.J. or if the new company supplied LIORET.


The other manufacturers interested in Lioretgraph. So Henri VICHY for his automatons " The Pierrot to the well " , or " The Zouave ", or Chocolates MENIER for an advertising Kiosk.

After the stop of the production of Lioretgraph, Max Oscar ARNOLD, manufacturer of Dolls to NEUSTADT, near COBOURG, took different patents, for a talking doll, which starts in our country in 1910. She measured 75 cms in height and had mobile eyes and was called successively " Arnola " then " Arnoldia ". The pavilion of the internal "phonograph" was just next to the mouth. Its discs reproduced texts or songs in French, in German and in English. It was in sale until 1914. It seems that functioning let wish when the doll was not straight.

Mécanisme sorti du corps (Photo Farkas)

-To note, the talking doll possessed a little bit special dress: the blouse could come unfastened easily, to reach the recorded roller. The system echoes that of breeches bridge. It is possible to see this kind of garment on the LIORETGRAPH, to the Museum of GUERANDE (or to look at the photography of it in the "Polichinelle" of January, 1987, n ° 25, p. 19).


Another patent was set in 1920 by A.M. NEWMAN, for a small phongraph able to be introduced into a small doll of around thirty centimeters and to work in all the positions. We do not know if this patent was exploited commercially.


The modern doll

After the war, we are on the transistor era, of the tape recorder ...... Certain dolls take advantage of it. But this is another story and the subject of another article, in the future---



Any reproduction rights (text and photos) even partial, rigorously reserved
© Registration of copyright B.N.F.2005 official list 4-D4 PER-88