If I could only have 2 dolls, my Huret would be one and my Sustrac mignonette would be the other. Like my Huret, this doll required the sale of many other dolls to save up enough to buy her.
Although unmarked, in his Mademoiselle Mignonette, Poupee de poche, Francois Theimer attributes this distinctive doll to Fernand Sustrac. Sustrac applied for a patent for the doll’s articulation on February 7, 1877.
Theimer explains that the elongated arms and legs of these early mignonettes copy the long limbs found on the kid or cloth bodies of French Fashion dolls.
All of the Sustrac mignonettes measure 5 1/8″ (13 cm) tall, even though they are sometimes listed as 14 cm when measured with the wig.
Of course, the long limbs, jointed elbows, swivel neck, and bare feet make her rare. But it’s the face that first drew me to this doll. With her petite features and her straight, one line eyebrows, her face reminds me of a pixie. (The white spot that shows in this photo on her cheek is just a reflection of light, not a paint loss.)
Her tiny, dark, cobalt blue eyes have deep paperweight bubbles of glass over the iris.
Her mohair wig and cork pate are original, but don’t want to stay put. In his book, Theimer describes a system whereby the wig was originally tied with string to a piece of wood placed across her head opening. I need to replicate that for my doll.
Like many bare-footed French mignonettes, her feet are wrapped with ribbon to simulate shoes. When I eventually make shoes and socks for her, I will place them over these original ribbon wraps.
Her dress is an excellent reproduction. It is made from antique silk, ribbons and lace. The bottom edge and sleeves are trimmed with blonde lace. Blonde refers to this type of fine silk lace and not the color. Even though blonde is usually blonde in color, it can be any color, even black.
The dress does not have a closure, but is meant to be pinned closed, just like the antique ones.
The lining or the dress and the underwear were made from a fine cotton gauze.
Francois Theimer’s beautiful book, Mademoiselle Mignonette, was published in 2003 and has fabulous pictures. It is written in French, but came with an English translation. You can find very expensive copies sometimes on Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. I checked Theimer’s website and it looks like you can still purchase the book directly from him, too.
The first time I saw a picture of the Sustrac mignonette, I was attracted to the doll. But when I saw this picture in Antique Doll Collector magazine several years ago, I knew I had to figure out a way to own one. I hope to redress my doll one day in a similar outfit. No, I didn’t pay even half of this doll’s cost for mine…
If you ever get around to making your Sustrac a pair of shoes, please post it as a tutorial. I have several all bisques with bare feet and no shoes. I am attracted to those tiny bare feet!!!!
I too love the Mignonettes.
I have given workshops at UFDC conventions, using the small dolls.
A Sustrac is on my bucket list and becoming more of a reality.
This was an enjoyable read.
Thank you for your message. I’m glad you’re getting your own Sustrac. Their faces vary greatly. Just make sure you get the one that talks to you.