The Petitcollin company story
Petitcollin was founded in 1860. At this time it was manufacturing combs. It was in 1898 that Petitcollin began to use celluloid for its various products. It is widely thought that Petitcollin started its manufacture of toys in 1901 and that of its dolls in 1907. It was in 1901 that Petitcollin used for the first time its trademark of the eagle's head. Petitcollin has had several factories. In 1931, the company became known as the COMPAGNIE DU CELLULOID PETITCOLLIN OYONNITHE.
Most of the dolls of Petitcollin carry the mark of the eagle’s head: this trademark is accompanied by a number indicating the size of the doll (in cm). The Petitcollin company registered numerous patents ( "...a new process of fixing moving limbs on toys with moving parts...", eyes moulded or blowmoulded and painted, eyes in celluloid, "...the manufacture of dolls heads equipped with closing eyes...").
The very first dolls produced by Petitcollin are not largely celebrated. On the other hand everyone knows the famous "Petitcollin" doll with its locks of hair over its forehead, its almond-shaped eyes, its turned-up nose, and its little mouth; half serious – half smiling. This baby of some few months old was developed around 1924. It was to be the glorious making of the company. This model is still produced today, but it is now made from polythene.
It was also on sale at the exposition Coloniale of 1931, with examples painted black. It should be noted here that this was the "Petitcollin" doll in black, and not the African doll which will be discussed later. It also produced black dolls; one is called the Hindou, as it simply a Petitcollin doll in black. The other is the genuine black doll called Negri. One of the most original of Petitcollin company's designs was an Asian baby doll, with slanted eyes, very matt skin and bent legs. It is worth noting that Petitcollin was said to be the only celluloid doll manufacturer to produce Asian dolls.
The Petitcollin company was certainly the largest and most important French manufacturer of celluloid dolls between 1930 and 1960. It was also the most well-known both in France and internationally. By producing dolls in large quantities it was able to dominate the market. It currently produces dolls in polythene, and in plastisol with the Petitcollin face. It is slightly modified but the doll still has its lock of hair over its forehead.
In the 1960s the company bought-up the moulds of the SOCIETE NOBEL FRANCAISE and today produces dolls for the women's magazine Modes & Travaux. The manufacture of Petitcollin dolls was re-launched in 1995 and is still today producing the unique dolls.