How did Armand Marcel become a puppet master?
I want to tell you about one of the largest manufacturers in the field of puppet production, the company which produced several million puppet heads from unglazed (biscuit) porcelain of various quality.
For forty years and even more, Armand Marseille’s products have been sold all over the world, designed for a different circle of customers, taking into account the price category. Armand Marcel (Armand Marseille) was born in 1856, in St. Petersburg, into a Huguenot immigrant family.
His father, who was born in the same glorious city, was the court architect of Nicholas I, who had a penchant for German architecture and culture. After the death of the emperor, the Marseille family left Russia and settled in Thuringia, in the town of Coburg (Coburg).
After completing his education, Armand Marcel acquired a small toy factory in Sonneberg (1884), previously owned by Mathias Lambert, and then, at the end of the year, became the owner of the Coppelsdorf porcelain factory and converted it to make porcelain dolls heads
Around the same time, Armand married a charming son of Zonneberg, who later gave him his son Herman, named after his grandfather, and daughter Beatrice. In 1887, a strong fire caused by a lightning strike occurred at the Armand Marcel doll factory. Most of the property was damaged, but, despite tangible losses, Marcel did not lose heart and decided to restore the plant.
An exit in 1890 of the law, obliging manufacturers to designate the country of production on the package, led Armand Marseille to register in the commercial register. According to this law, additional D.R.G.M or D.E.P tags were put on German puppet heads, indicating the fact that production was protected by a German patent. Marcel year from year to year vigorously expanded his business, took orders from abroad, and from its representatives in foreign branches, following the market and fashion, received detailed and detailed information that promotes an accurate response to demand in a particular country.
In 1890, Armand Marcel began to experiment not only with the manufacture of new porcelain doll heads, but also began to create doll bodies from composite, leather, doll wigs. Marcel was always very reverent towards Russia, keeping Russian icons in his house. He sent for export to St. Petersburg a lot of his products, actively concluding contracts with Russian merchants. Several charming dolls of its production lived in the collection of children of the last Russian emperor, which is currently kept in the Zagorsk toy museum.
In 1915, Beatrice, the daughter of Armand Marcel, married Ernst Heubach, the son of the owner of a porcelain factory, located next to the company of Marcel. The marriage of her daughter led to the merger of enterprises (1919), despite the warnings of Marcel, who was accustomed to relying only on himself and questioning the business qualities of her husband Beatrice. Armand Marcel still worked very, very hard. In 1917, due to such pressure and constant unrest, he had a heart attack, recovering after which Armand decided on the continuity of the business. In 1919, the company acquired a new leader, Herman Marcel became.
Herman, like his sister Beatrice, pinned hopes on the existing alliance with the Heubach company, but, alas, his father was right (who, as was indicated above, was in doubt about this merger) – 11 years later, since 1932, Armand Marcel’s company began to exist again on its own – the Marseille-Heubach alliance fell apart. In 1925, Armand Marcel died from a heart attack. His son made enough efforts to support his father’s affairs, continuing to manufacture dolls and puppet heads, conducting experiments with various composite materials. But, alas, the previous successes could not be achieved, and in the 1930s, Marseille moved to the manufacture of china.
At the end of the Second World War, the production of Marseille dolls was resumed under the new brand Sonneberger Porzellanfabrik, but Herman Marcel did not accept the new power, and in 1949 he moved to Germany. The world-famous doll factory, unfortunately, was closed, and forever.
Throughout the history of the company Armand Marcel, its range was truly huge, and consisted of a wide variety of puppet types: cute googly with large round eyes, beveled to the side, laughing and crying uneven pups, dolls with girlish features and a certain facial expression, “Characteristic” … Also released, however, in small editions, black dolls – Asians and Africans. One of the dolls in this series is kept in London, in the museum of childhood. Photo: Source The Marseille Factory produced puppet heads for other doll manufacturers, such as Seyfarth & Reinhardt, C.M. Bergmann, Wislizenus.