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c.1900 Au Nain Bleu French Mechanical Dolphin Pond Toy

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Lot 0057 Details

Description
Period of Manufacture: c.1900
Location of Manufacture: Paris, France
Manufacturer/Retailer: Au Nain BleuMaterials: Painted Wood & Tin and Clock Work Mechanism
Dimensions of Toy: 15"(l) x 4"(w) X 5"(d)
Dimensions of Original Box: 16"(l) x 4 3/4"(w) x 5 1/4"(d)
Weight: 2 lbs. 11 oz.

For your consideration is an amazing antique French dolphin-form mechanical pond toy. This piece is in excellent condition and even retains its original box from "Au Nain Bleu" - a famous Parisian toy store which opened its doors in 1836. The box carries a paper label with the store's name and address. Additionally, the label carries the name "G. Fauvet", which, according to the now on-line only store's history, dates this piece to around 1900.

The underside of the dolphin's body is constructed of wood in order to give the toy buoyancy while the upper portion is metal. (as are all fins). The dolphin is wound by the key that is attached to its stand and it works as it should with all mechanics being sound, tight and not overwound. With a few turn of the key, the dolphin's caudal fin flips back and forth. The manufacturer placed a hole in the dorsal fin allowing a tether to be attached to the toy for security and retrieval. The dolphin also has a blow hole which is outfitted with a small metal tube - we assume that this might allow water to be siphoned from the water and shot out above the toy. Though all mechanisms are seeming to function well, we have not tested this offering in water.

The history of the Au Nain Bleu (The Blue Dwarf) begins in Paris over 170 years ago on the initiative of the Chauvières family.

In 1836, Jacques-Edouard Chauvière and his wife Louise launched a toy trade which they named Au Nain Bleu, in reference to the famous game of the "Yellow Dwarf", a card and chance game very popular in the 19th century, and to the blue color of the first shop.

First located at 27 boulevard des Capucines, Au Nain Bleu quickly established itself as a benchmark in the toy world.

In 1853, Baron Haussmann and Napoleon III changed the toy store's destiny by deciding to build a new Opera House near the storefront - thus allowing the area to become one of the most upscale in the capital region.

At the start of the 20th century, a new generation arrived at the helm as George Fauvet gives new impetus to the Blue Dwarf by setting up at the corner of rue Saint Honoré and rue Richepanse. The brand remained at this location for almost 100 years. The storefront for Au Nain Bleu has subsequently closed in the early 2010's but carries on its tradition on-line.

Keywords: Made in France French Automaton Pond Toy Swimming Porpoise Sea Ocean Life Wind-Up Paris Parisian Cosas Auction Antique Collectible Rare
Condition
Item is in excellent working condition with no heavy wear, breaks, missing pieces or repairs. Toy was not testing in water so we cannot vouch for the function of the blowhole mechanism. However, based on overall condition and function of other components, it is reasonable to believe it is working. Original retail box included with soiling and relatively small tears noted to exterior. Original winding key is also included along with stand that is post-production and was made by previous collector to display this rarity.
Dimensions
12 x 20 x 12 in
Weight
43 oz
Buyer's Premium
  • 22%

c.1900 Au Nain Bleu French Mechanical Dolphin Pond Toy

Estimate $100 - $300Aug 15, 2020
Starting Price $25
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