This collection of these sweet little dolls piqued my interest and I just had to know more about them.
Martha Waterman Nichols has a very informative website about the doll. Click here to see it. On the first page she tells us "Bleuette is a small French doll who was made in Paris by the SFBJ (Society of French Doll and Toy Makers) from 1905 until the company closed in 1957. She is popular with collectors interested in French dolls and fashion history. More than 1,000 published clothing patterns and fifty-plus years' worth of commercial clothing made just for her make Bleuette one of the most fashionable in the history of dolls with their own wardrobes."
Have a look at the rest of her website. It has much more information than I could include here and there are also many beautiful pictures.
The doll was created in 1905 as an incentive to get people to subscribe to a new weekly newspaper for girls called La Semaine de Suzette (Suzette's Week). I was lucky enough to find a number of samples of this newspaper at a flea market in Paris last week. Below is the cover of one from March 1913. My French is quite poor, but it looks like Napoleon is making his own omlette.
Wikipedia site for Bleuette tells us the following:
"The first Bleuette dolls are known as "Premiere Bleuette", and were given free to those who had placed an order for a year's subscription to La Semaine de Suzette before its first publication in February 1905, and were available only until one month after the first issue. 20,000 Jumeau dolls were ordered from the Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets (SFBJ) for the initial advertisement, but 60,000 subscriptions were received, and this first supply of dolls were gone before the first issue was even released."
This is the same costume worn by the cartoon character Bécassine, a young Breton housemaid who was drawn by Joseph Pinchon and who appeared in the first issue of La Semaine de Suzette on February 2, 1905. She is considered the first female protagonist in the history of comics.
Most issues contained patterns for dressing Bleuette, but one could also order ready-made costumes through the publishing offices and catalogues.
As well as a wardrobe for everyday wear, bridal dresses, festival costumes, and a Holy Communion dresses were available.
One of the dolls in the dollhouse is wearing the Communion gown that is advertised in the1949 issues of the paper.
Wikipedia tells us:
"Bleuette is a doll that was produced from 1905 to 1960. She has a fully jointed composition body. She was 27 cm (10" 5/8) until 1933, then 29 cm (11 3/8) until production ended in 1960. She had a bisque head until World War II, then a composition head until 1958 when a hard plastic body and head were used for the last two years of production. More than 1,060 patterns were published over the 55 years Bleuette was available."
The three dolls in the smallest room of the Bleuette house appear to be later than the others and have may have composition heads. (It is hard to tell though the glass). Their dresses are adorable.
Click on this link to download patterns from La Semaine de Suzette
I hope you enjoyed my discovery of Bleuette and her world as much as I did. Below are more pages from La Semaine de Suzette for your enjoyment.
|Festival costumes from February 1925|
|1925 - One could choose a doll with real hair or artificial hair|