THE FABULOUS WORLD OF AUTOMATONS

DECAMPS

The most ancient and one of the most famous manufacturers of Automatons in the world

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Established 1865 by Jean Roullet, "façonneur " of tools, it is of the meeting with Mister Lamour, customer and crimper of profession that was born the first toy automaton of this house

" Le Petit Jardinier "

(The small gardener pushing a wheelbarrow )

First mechanical model of the company, it is still the brand-logo of House Decamps. The mass toy had been born. The others will very fast follow and brought in the Company the first bronze medal from the World Fair of 1867. Installed four years later in the 10 Rue du Parc Royal, in " L'hôtel de Vigny " workshops had there to stay almost hundred years.

In 1879, the marriage of the girl of Jean Roullet, with Jean Ernest Decamps, mechanic of profession contributed to the expansion of the manufacture. The International Exhibition of 1889 lives the real association of the two men and the company took the name " Roullet-Decamps ". From 1893, the house employed fifty persons, thirty people of whom!

In the death of Jean Roullet, Ernest Decamps took management. Then his child Gaston and Paul set raise . Gaston who was student of the College of Decorative Arts then of the Academy of Beaux Arts learned notably with the big sculptor animal painter Fremiet and already expressed his ideal in this sentence which will remain the " leitmotiv " of his work:

 

" AUTOMATON IS A MOVING SCULPTURE "

 

Naturally, by 1900 , the appearance of "La Fée Electricité " revolutionized the world of atomatons. It is in this time that were created the advertising machines, which praised the products of big brands in the shop windows of department stores, and could work permanently. The same year of Ernest Decamps's death in 1909, his son Gaston Decamps, old of 27 years already created the first animated shop window of Christmas for " Le Bon Marché " in Paris. Craze had been born! To conceive their projects, department stores appealed to draftsmen humorists of time, Dubout, Peynet, Effel ....

Shopwindow of "Musée de Falaise"

Some ( ! ) "bosses"-(Moulds)-

final realization and manufacture being made with Establishments Decamps. Artistic current event also is source of inspiration: the clown Little Tich, the dancer Loie Fuller, the clown Grock, and soon Charlot will be represented. Think that every automaton had its own sculpture, its mould in plaster and its own mechanism. It represented six working months, for three minutes of pleasure!

 

Henriette Roullet-Decamps left only with her three children, the House worked so during some years. The war of 1914 brought regrettably! a very hard blow in the development of the House, Paul Decamps was killed there in 1915. Finally Gaston Decamps met himself alone in the head of the factory in 1922.

 


Years 30-34 were marked by the consecration of the aesthetic and technical qualities of Gaston Decamps's automatons: " l'Homme Serpent ", " l'Elephant marcheur " and " La panthère rampante " enters to the Museum of "Arts et Métiers " of Paris where we can again admire them.

Gaston Decamps participated also in the International Exhibition of 1937, creating with his friend Paul Durand, the " professeur Arcadius " and realizing the animation of the " Old French Songs " for the Pavilion of the Toy. He worked also in the trucages of cinema (the old lion in "Tartariin de Tarascon, the peak - green in Alexandre le Bienheureux, the clock machine of Casses-pieds ......)

Shopwindow of the store Rue Amelot

t is in 1960 all the automatons will enter war to save from the demolition l'Hôtel de Vigny in 10 Rue du Parc Royal which sheltered them for 95 years ! Due to an exhibition organized in premises, the Hôtel was saved from the demolition and scheduled but Establishment Decamps was not it chased away less by their owner.

Reinstalled in the 11th arrondissement of Paris in 17/19 Rue Amelot, automatons are going to know at instigation of the son-in-law of Gaston Decamps, Georges Bellancourt, the animation of their mechanisms by the electronics and the tape with notably " Olympia " created for the Opera of Paris during the resumption of Hoffmann's tales..... And, collectively in the elaboration technically pushed, an aesthetic search led to the creation of sculptures animated in metal. So , in 1963 , a gold " Oursin " for Salvador Dali opened this way.

 

Become again object of art, the automaton finds so the road of our houses and decorates our " living rooms " as its ancestor decorated our salons. Evolving and assimilating perfectly to the time, it is really for the future generations the witness almost living on everything a time.

 

Although in lethargy since 1996, Establishment Decamps are always there ....in 17/19 Rue Amelot. The daughter of Gaston, great-granddaughter of the founder, Madam Cosette Bellancourt who holds henceforth only the reins of the Factory Decamps, is always sought all over the world for prestigious exhibitions where she presents the collection and the methods of fabrication over 130 years! She is at the origin of the magnificent realization of the Museum of Falaise in Normandy country ( France ) and Souillac's museum in the Massif Central ( France ) shelters also one very beautiful and important part of the creations of this magnificent House

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Falaise Museum, Reconstitution of two fabrication automata stations

Inside show of the store Decamps, Amelot sreet
with two very nice does !

Here we must to thank very warmly Madam Cosette Bellancourt who authorized the " Cercle Privé de la Poupée " to visit the company just before its stake in sleep. The success of this unforgettable visit owes also a lot to Madam Sylviane Dugas and to Mister Camille Guillebert. These last, faithful co-workers of this House, allowed us indeed, on January 6, 1996, to see an ultimate time premises, complete workshops with all the equipment and naturally also, some very beautiful automatons still on the spot.

 

 

 

Bibliography

« L'Age d'Or des Automates 1848-1914 » by Christian BAILLY, Éditions Scala 1987, or
« Automata : The Golden Age 1848 - 1914 » Philip Wilson Publishers 1987.

« Histoire des Jouets» by Henry-René d'Allemagne, Hachette

Mail :

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/automatesetpoupees/index.html

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