It seems that at the end of the XIXth century, there was a certain contesting against the too luxurious "toys" with which the children were not authorized to play ! ! !  We want for examples the dictation of the girl Eugénie (see " Dolls of Marie Koenig ") and this Jean RICHEPIN's article, appeared in the " Revue Illustrée "  in 1886.   
All the engravings and the drawings which follow are extracted from " Story of toys " by .R. d'Allemagne )

It' is Christmas, before runner of New Year's Day, Christmas, which sows in the air the butterflies white with some snow, but which also sows  through this snow the multicoloured toys similar to flowers in the multicolored petals.

 Do you know how to choose toys ? Have you ever thought about it only ? No, doubtless.
 You buy them haphazardly, on the advice of the trader, according to the watchword of the fashion and fast, fast, as we get rid of a unpleasant chore. You are wrong. The choice of toys, grave affair !  How had said Hugo, deep question !

 The good toys, the real toys, the only toys, the only ones finally, they are the toys of the poor men.

 The good toys, the real toys, the only toys, the only ones finally, they are the toys of the poor men. " Ah! See, see! The shop in thirteen, nineteen, twenty nine, thirty nine or forty nine sous! Ah! See, see! "

Here he is, the paradise of the children. If you want to have fun, you, the grown-ups, go to toy shops. But if you are anxious to please them, to them, the kids, enter the shop in thirteen pennies, the only one where there are toys.

 What you want that they understand, the cherubs, in the luxurious and ingenious displays of the dolls of the highlife there? Only you can find a charm in these lounges in miniature, where it seems to you to look at the life by the big end of the opera glasses. Only you will push " oh !  " and "ah ! " In front of these museums Grévin, reduction stuck. But them, the poor angels, to whom devil will they speak in this artificial world, absolutely similar to the real world ?

They need beings of dream, spectacular, for this divine age where fanciful alone is alive. To make it their companions and their friends, these sophisticated models too much seem to be in the truth.

What conversations could they indeed exchange with this horizontal with red wig, china cheeks of which are made up, the red lips of which seem to smell of the dough of grape, the dress of which is in the real fault, falbalas in the real lace, and heart in real heart, as the wind under the skin ?
 This woman is not made for them. She is made for the attractive sirs who rest in her, tiny lounge, on furniture Lilliputians in the buffers of real silk. She is made for this pretty lieutenant, coiled in his new beating uniform; for this embassy attaché decorated with a camellia; for this grant holder whose stomach bulges out under a white vest; for this delicious irastakwer, to the wide sideboards of a blue black, to the index studed with a big diamond; for it pleasant tenor who coos a tune of Massenet in front of a piano in
ebony containing  one limps musical

You go into raptures, you, the grown-ups. You note details delicious :
The lieutenant smokes a cigar from which the ash hides under its grey satin a glitter of ruby.
The embassy attaché has the eyeglass in the eye.
The grant holder goes through a small leather pad of Russia.
The rastaquouère is if gingerbread, which it seems to have of the accent.
The tenor has the glance in the ceiling, the left hand on the heart, the flown away right hand.
The lady, ready to swoon, has just stopped the movement of her ran  which she holds of a casual gesture, the little finger conceitedly pushed aside and vaporously in the air.

It Is surprising ! Admirable!,  lived ! -

It looks like it is staged by Sardou.


 We would say an article of the Life in Paris

. - Oh !  
The progress! " Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, admirable for you !

 But for the children ?

You did not think of it any more, in the expensive youngs

Do you know what  should play them, it limp musical of the piano of ebony ?

it should play them the old romance:

 " children, do not get  ti
 " Do not get it, cute! You would disturb their five o' clock your ! "

 What they need to the children, what they can disturb, break, they are the good toys, the only toys, the toys of the poor men.

" What they need, to converse with them, to be made companions and friends, they are toys cut in stabs, illuminated in the big, smelling the wood and the color; the toys dressed sloppily, the made toys goes - as - I - pushes you, the chaps and the good animals in the left(awkward) air(sight), in the naive appearance(mine), in the fanciful forms, the only ones that their imagination made live on a strange and familiar life.

It is the classic Punch, with its nose in beak of crow and a chin in breakage-hazelnut, with its cheeks of drunk, its small vivacious eyes, his its wide laughter which cuts down to it all the face, and its legs and its arms always mashing and drumming its two bumps.
It is the poodle sat on a bellows, the cat with eyes in glass balls, the rabbit which beats of drum.
It is the Harlequin in two sous, which fidgets crazily as soon as we pull the thread which hangs on its at the foot of the back, as a tail; the multicolored Harlequin dressed in pieces of rainbow; the monkey while falling down at the top of a stick, this wonderful monkey in the unexpected), dislocated attitudes, which a two-year-old child makes move and which a man, the gravest, cannot look without laughing.

It is the pair of smiths which bang one after the other, desperately, massively, of a so well rhythmical movement that we believe to hear oofs of their efforts !!

It is hthe box with tin soldiers, or, better still, with wooden soldiers, if stiff comicaly in their uniforms in the so moving, garish tones with their quite same and sad faces, their stuck legs, their vague glances were unshakably fixed to fifteen steps.

The sheepfold, and its sheeps curled in the pocket knife, and its water spaniel while carrying as a plume its scarlet tongue in trumpet, and the fir trees in green shavings which embalm the turpentine when they are new, and, when they are old, the violet.

, the horse with blue eyes have eyelashes have each four pig's silk lashes, ears of which are leather varnished, and the mane of which in brush, wild and hieratic, stabs the sky as that of immortal couriers of the Parthenon

 It is the Noah's Ark, full of rudimentary animals, embryos and monsters in the fantastic aspects, that amaze us, we, but which the toddlers recognize at once by the initial lines which represent fearlessly the synthesis.

t is the devil, the Cossack, the bogeyman, the man finally, this puppet bearded grotesque and terrible at once, which suddenly springs a square box, arched its torso coil spring, hands wide open , arms gesticulating, unkempt hair, the whole body convulsed in a tremor of seizure, and that is so afraid, so afraid ..... and we love to do, however, for as soon as he returned, the nose crushed under its cover, they shout at once: "yet! again!"

How many more ! I forget, surely. They are legion. All children those !

"Ah, see, see! The shop at thirteen, nineteen, twenty-
nine, thirty-nine and forty-nine! Ah! see, see! "

And for the children of the rich as for the children of the beggar ! Those, all the children understand them, all the children speak to them. They speak to them in their language, stuttering and lisping, their language attractive, rudimentary also, and synthetic as these marionettes. And marionettes answer them in this language, do not doubt it. 

Remember yourselves! And if you remember yourselves - not, try to find at your grandparent's, in a bottom of suitcase, in a bottom of cupboard, in a corner of the attic, try to find one of these chaps or these animals, a fragment of them only, a hoarse leg, a leaky stomach, and you will see what a delicious pang of anguish we try It is as old lost friends, that we considered dead, and who return suddenly, and with them return the remembrances soft of the days lived together.

How they were for vouchers for us, these old Punch dolls, these apocalyptic animals, these improbable beings! As us loved them and as they loved us! As our hands tremble by dusting their faded rags! 

How we fel a furtive tear amounting with eyes, by recognizing on their expensive faces the track of our knocks and also the place of our kisses !

Oh! Yes, Yes, they lived, they were friends, they spoke to us. For little, they would still speak to us. They make it, in a low voice doubtless, but how much deep and penetrating, because and by listening to them cried us suddenly slowly!

This friends, give them to your children ! Give them to all the children, to those of the rich as to those beggar ! Leave with shop windows the dolls of the highlife, the too real imitations of the life, the five o' clock tea in miniature staged by Sardou; And return to the nice chaps, to the fair animals, cut in stabs, illuminated go - as - I - pushes you, dressed sloppily !

Give children the perfect companions entertain them later today and they still sing the melody of childhood memories! Remember, good toys, real toys, the only toys, the toys, the toys are the poor !

Ah! See, see! The shop in thirteen, nineteen,
twenty nine thirty nine and forty nine! Ah! See, see

    Jean Richepin

To those who had the privilege to visit the Rural Museum of the Popular Arts of Laduz in the Yonne, this article will evoke certainly that they were able to admire there, to find the emotion which was certainly by seeing to them certain said maintaining toys " of formerly " and whom today, nevertheless, we have all and quite known or seen to have wished them or have even played long hours with them.

Thanks to Suzanne Gautrot who indicated us this article of 1886.




Any reproduction rights (text and photos)
 even  partial,  rigorously  reserved  © 2012 March 31th