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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the clockwork pet: roullet and descamps

A prim white kitty in spectacles fans herself. A basket of pink flowers holds a bunny surprise. And a kinda disreputable lion can still leap, though he's a hundred and nine years old.

All these fantastical things are late 19th - early 20th c clockwork toys - automata - from the Paris firm of Roullet & Descamps. Roullet had opened a tool-production workshop in 1866 and shortly after switched to automaton toys with his first partner. Descamps, the shop foreman, married into the family in 1879, and descendants ran the company till 1995. Their productions mirrored the fancies of the France they lived in: cute pets, dolls in the latest fashions, clowns, clever monkeys. The quality and poetic cleverness of their creations have been honored by a museum in the village of Souillac.

You may find more of the firm's history here. And here's a bunny in a cabbage. And a walking, meowing cat. All examples from Britain's Automatomania.

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