By the beginning of the twentieth century, almost everything that was once manufactured piece by the hands of a master craftsman was put on stream. No exception and children’s toys. After all, little girls and boys are perhaps the most massive target audience in the world, and if a beloved child asks for a doll, not every parent has the hardness to say no! Collectible dolls at the exhibition
For several decades of the XIX century, France was the undivided mistress on the world puppet market. Initially, the dolls portrayed adults – mostly elegant ladies. In the middle of the century, Europeans were first offered a baby doll, which very quickly gained popularity among small consumers. This furor has produced a model “Bebe” French company “Jumo”. “Bebe” from the French company “Jumo”
But what is curious: modern researchers call the true authors of the doll-child not the French, but the Japanese. In 1851, a Japanese baby doll with a porcelain head and bending arms and legs was shown at the international exhibition in London, which was the impetus for radical changes in the European puppet industry. French antique dolls of the late 19th century are considered to be true masterpieces, but they were affordable for a few. It was then that the practical Germans saw their chance. Their dolls were inferior to French in quality, but they were much cheaper. Moreover, at the end of the century before last, the German puppets did the same as the deft Chinese do now: they copied the most successful French models and threw them onto the market under the guise of French products.
In 1890, a law was passed obliging merchants to indicate on the packaging the country of manufacture. If everyone obeyed it, modern collectors would not have to puzzle over the origin of their expensive acquisitions. But even after 1890, pseudo-French dolls continued to be produced in Germany – other fakes are so skillful that only an expert can recognize them. One of those who strictly followed the new law was Armand Marcel, the largest and most famous German puppet manufacturer. In the end, he already had a French name, and not an assigned one, but received from father and mother.
Armand was born in St. Petersburg in a family of immigrants from France. His father served as an architect under Nicholas I, and after the death of the employer he moved the family to Thuringia, which became the center of the German puppet industry. Here in 1884, young Marseille bought a toy workshop, thereby laying the foundations for a future large-scale production. In the heyday of the firm, Armand Marsell’s enterprises produced up to a thousand puppet heads per day – not only for their own needs, but also for other manufacturers. Some products were shipped overseas. The Queen Louise model was developed specifically for the American market.
Not all series of the famous manufacturer have their own names. Some are classified by year of production or casting number. Casting No. 390 was the most popular – this model was produced by Armand Marcel for about twenty years, filling the market with inexpensive porcelain items of relatively low quality with faces painted hurriedly and coarsely. But in the same 390th series, expensive elite dolls came out in small batches – they can be recognized by lighter, carefully painted faces. Struggling for the sympathies of the children and the wallets of their parents, the puppeteers kept thinking up something new. Toy men learned to blink, move. From the shop windows they looked at young lady dolls, baby dolls, baby dolls. Ethnic dolls depicting Africans and Asians were produced in small editions – they are now very much appreciated by collectors. Big doll – casting number 390 from Armand Marcel. Dolls “with character” became a real breakthrough. Their porcelain faces expressed certain emotional states: they laughed, cried, appeared crafty, sad, naive, mischievous, angry, scared, dissatisfied. But the children accepted the novelty without enthusiasm. It is difficult to play with a doll that frowns all the time or looks at you with a cheeky grin at the moment when she is supposed to eat her porridge, shed tears or dance at a ball. During the game, the dolls should do everything – fall asleep, wake up, have fun, grieve … They should be able to change.
A kind of way out of the situation became three-faced baby dolls. Their bodies were soft, their shoulders were hard, their heads were covered by a cap, under which the “unnecessary” at the moment faces were hiding. By turning the special lever on the top of the head, you could make the doll alternately sleep, cry and laugh. It is known that these dolls were produced in the late 60s of the XX century.