In 1870, Leon Casimir Bru described his wooden-bodied poupee as having "a fully perfected grace". It is a phrase that aptly describes the entire world of the French fashion doll, 1850-1880. The French doll industry of 1850 consisted of dark and gloomy little workshops and stores tucked in hidden alleyways. By 1880, all had changed. Large manufactories controlled the market. Exports thrived. And magnificent stores and boutiques offered an unparalleled wealth of dolls, doll costumes, accessories and furnishing. This blossoming was fostered by the social revolution that took place in Paris during the Napoleon III era. During his 22-year reign that French ruler and his beloved wife, the Empress Eugenie, transformed Paris into a city of wide boulevards, magnificent parks and buildings, and glorious fairs and expositions. The fashion doll came along for the ride. Her world reflected the greater world. What was made for real people, however frivolous or luxurious its nature, was also made for the doll. By 1867, there were more than 200 shops in Paris specializing in the fashion doll and her world. From garters to gowns, gaiters to gloves, hoops to hat boxes, little doll owners of that period could find it all. Yet, today, few objects remain from that glorious era. Given the nature of child play, and the tiny size of these objects, it is understandable. It must be the goal of today's collectors to identify and preserve those few remaining examples. This book will help in that quest.
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