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Monday, August 11, 2014

Huret and her Friends; the 19th c. continues

In "Old Dolls" (1950), Eleanor St. George writes that"There was one street in Paris, around le passage du Choiseul, that was almost entirely occupied by the makers of doll costumes, doll wigs, and accessories. Like the ealrier miliners' Models of papier-mache, these later French types were really ashon dolls." St. George seems to be one of the earliest writers to use the term "fashion doll," yet it is appropriate to describe those dolls that had extensive wardrobes designed to show the latest fashion.
We know that the earliest fashion dolls, dating even to the 14th c., were sent around the world, from royal court to royal court, to show what the latest fashions were. By the 18th c., the fashion dolls were called Pandoras, and their popularity continued until paper dolls and colorful fashnion plates from Godey's, Harper's, and Petersen's magazines became plentiful. The rise of fashion paper ephemera is simultaneous with the increasing availability of paper and its decline in cost. The Industrial Revloution and the invention of chromo lithography also helped. But, I digress. Back to our Poupees Modeles, those wonderful 19th century fashion dolls which, while still fairly plentiful, are amont the most desireable of all doll, commanding top price. They may also be the most reproduced of all antique dolls, but that is my opinion.
My opinions and taste also favor Huret dolls, and their rivals Rohmer, as the most amazing of the French Fashion genre. Huret dolls are mentioned in Anne Rice's novel "Taltos," and Sethany Ann of "The Dolls Christmas" is a Huret. Annabelle of Tudor's "A is for Annabelle" was, too, and so was the early mistress of Tudor's legednary doll house, "Melissa Dove Crane." In ight of the bitter dispute over Tudor's will, I'd love to know where her dolls are now. The actual doll Sethany Ann is featured in Eleanor St. George's other classic, "The Dolls of Three Centuries." The late Maureen Popp had excellent examples, and the late Dorothy Dixon once owned the elusive pewter headed Huret which is my Holy Grail of dolls, and which I've written about in my book on metal and mechanical dolls, "With Love from Tin Lizzie . . ." Again, anyone with information of the wheareabouts of this doll, please let me know. A gorgeous, rare, open mouth Huret from the Mary Merritt Darrah collection sold above $50,000.0 a few years ago when the museum collection was auctioned by Noel Barrett. Noted doll authority Mary Ann Spinelli writes that the Huret fashion doll of the 1850s is from the earliest period of fashion dol history, and that painted eyes looking downward are typical of these dolls. Spinellis had a lovely Huret for sale on her site for $23, 750.00. The doll had a sheepskin wig, and a wooden body with a green oval stamp that reads "Boulevarde Montemarete, PARIS" on top. The rarest Huret dolls have gutta percha bodies that later dried out and became brittle, ultimately disintegrating. Another plump faced Huret with a dreamy experssion and blue-green plaid costume could be Sethany Ann's twin. She hails from the site Provenance dolls, This doll has the typcial blue eyes, 'bee-stung' mouth, and plump rosy cheeks agaisnt a white complextion. She, too, is on a wooden body.
Good images of Huret marks may be found at, or just at Search for French doll makers, then look for Huret in the alphabetical listing. Addresses found as part of doll marks include "2Boulev'd Montmatre, Paris" withte he phrase "EXPon UniverLLs 1867), and "68 Rue de la Boetie." My Huret doll head is a bit later, with holes cut out for glass eyes. I paid next to nothing for this head, and it is indeed old. Later, I bought a replica doll from the wonderul America's Doll Factory, and paid over $100.00 for the head, and later the wig and new leather body. I sewed the dress from expensive Japanese silk, and provided shoes and an elaborate black velvet hat. How ironic that the reproductionm no matter how lovely, cost so much more than my original head! notes that the Huret "created a new industry in the luxury trade dolls, and, as such, they have arked their place in the history of toys." Pictured on this site is "The Great Man's Doll," auctioned by Theriault's several years ago as part of hte auction selling Anne Rice's doll collection. Victor Hugo bought that Huret for his granddaughter. This is a wondeful web museum of the various dolls, icnluding the later versions by Prevost. You may also view Huret doll furniture, hats, fasions, and accesorries.This is an excerpt from the book ib "Les Poupess Huret", "The Toys, What's Inside," (1868) which featured Huret dolls displayed at an 1867 exhibition, by Henry Nicolle. A new book which features a Huret with her original trousseau is "The Changanting Trousseau of Chiffonette" by Sylvia MacNeil. ( Still another book detialing the wardrobe of a Huret is "The Trousseau of Blondineete Davranches: A Huret Doll & her Wardrobe 1862-1867" by Florence Theriault, and available at Huret History: M. Francois Theimer, noted expert on French dolls, has stated that he feels Mlle. Adeleide Calixte Huret is the "initiator" of the French doll industry with the development of her magnificent poupees ( A well educate woman from an upper class family, Mlle. Huret was well-read and evidently famliar with the work of Jean Jacques Rousseau. She was brought up by a her father, a widower who was employed ad a royal mechanic, and her uncle, a police prefect and lover of the theater. The young Mlle. Huret was intriqued by theatrical cosgtumes and dolls from an early age, and attempted to dress a heavy wooden doll, which she found awkward. In the same way Ruth Handler was inspried to create another fashion doll, Barbie, after she watched her daughter dressing paper dolls, Huret would be inspired to create a doll that could be dressed and undressed easily by children. Mr. Theimer, who along with Danielle Theimer authored "The Huret Book", My DM seems to dispell one mtyh, that the dolls by Huret and others were not meant for children, but as mannikins. This is a view held by some venerable doll historians, but I, too, would have to "agree to disagree" with them. I have a photo of a little girl holding a fashion doll that has been really played with, and besides Hugo's purchase, such a doll is menioned and described as a toy for Amarantha, heroine of Robert Penn Warren's novel, "Band of Angels." Masion Huret began operation in the 1850s; it did not cease until the late 1920s, and some claim the firm went on under Prevost into the 30s. Anohter Huret innovation, according to M. Theimer, is the idea of removable doll clothes. He notes that before, clothes were sewn onto a doll, making doll play difficult. I would argue that, in part, this is the characteristic of a true fashion doll; her clothes can be removed and changed. Rohmer: Madame Marie Antoinette leontine Rohmer ran her business in Paris from 1857-1880. Her dolsl were 14-18 n. tall with cihna or bisque sivel headed dols. she used kid lined shoulder plates nad moitned bodies of lieather. She also used gutta percha, but only for arms. these are very rare to find. ( . . ) Spinelli shows a Rohmer doll with paitned eus and a china head representing "Le Mode Enfantine," which characterized early child French fashions, precursors of the bebe which Jumea and Bru mastered, but which M. Theimer claims Mlle. Huret introduced as a reaction to the all adult female dolls the predomianted the doll world before Mlle. Huret. That Rohmer doll has a leather body with wood tenon joints ant the dhoulders, and more gussets at the knews for further movemient. the bront torso bears the stamp of "the Hosue of Rohmer." she is dressed in a black and white strirpped skirt, blouse, and black wool jacket, a school girls' outfit from the early 1860s. Leontine Rohmer lost a court case to Huret over zinc bodied dolls and patents and designs involving the cup and saucer neck joint. These dols are rare; one is pictures in "With love from Tin Lizzie..." Mme. Anne Marie Porot, colleaugue of M. Theimer, is an expert in these Rohmer dolls. More information on the rivarly betweent these two historic women entrepeneurs may be found in the Yahoo group, "Hurets, Rohmers, Barrois, etc. Molds, https://groups/ . . .). Many French fashion china heads are made by Rohmer. There are many Pinterest boards on these dolls, including my own "Doll Collection" and "Antique Dolls-Huret & Rohemr Fashion Ladies," "antique dolls," "Antique Dolls," "french fashion dolls," "Munecas Antgiguas," and Theriault's on Pinterest.

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