Adelaide Calixte Huret first patented an articulated doll with a porcelain head in 1850 in France. Her doll represented an idealized child, with a dreamy face and a light-weight, hollow gutta percha body. The earliest dolls, like mine, had glazed porcelain heads. Later Hurets were made with unglazed (or bisque) heads. All were 45cm or 17 3/4″ tall.
The years from 1850 to 1880 in Paris were the Golden Age of Dolls with more than 200 businesses engaged in making dolls and their clothing, furniture and accessories. There were shops devoted to wig or shoe making and couture houses that provided costumes for these dolls.
Several shops published magazines exclusively devoted to young girls and their dolls, such as La Poupee Modele, and Gazette de la Poupee. These magazines featured articles, stories, fashion plates and patterns for dressing 45 cm dolls.
Since the Huret doll represented a child, the costumes of early Hurets were usually child-like, or la mode enfantine. However, the same doll would often be dressed and played with as a baby, child or lady. Young girls were encouraged to care for and sew for their dolls to learn the skills they would need as women. In a future post, I will discuss costume inspiration and will give sources for costume ideas.
If you want to learn more, here’s a partial reading list:
- The Huret Book, by Danielle & Francois Theimer is available from Dollspart. The English translation is a bit rough, and sometimes comical, but the basic information is interesting and the photos are amazing.
- The Trousseau of Blondinette Davranches, by Florence Theriault can be found used on Amazon. It shows a lovely early Huret and her original trousseau.
My Huret is over 150 years old. The earliest Huret dolls, like mine, had glazed porcelain (China) heads. Her original gutta percha body is gone. Gutta percha is a latex/rubber derived from a Malaysian tree. It becomes brittle with age, so not many gutta percha doll bodies have survived. At some point in her life my Huret got a French leather poupee body with glazed porcelain arms. With her leather body, she is a bit shorter than the Huret standard of 45cm. She has a blonde skin wig.
So, why is my Huret special to me? Of course, she is gorgeous. But, it’s all about the possibilities! She is a needy doll and I have been tasked with completing her trousseau. She needs clothes, hats, jewelry, shoes, socks, purses, gloves, toys, furniture and more.
Look at that face! Who am I to deny her anything?