Vintage Bleuettes

Bleuette On Sale

In the Summer 1933 Gautier-Languereau Catalog of Bleuette’s ready-made clothing, Bleuette was, for the first time, offered in a new size.  Until then, Bleuette had been 27 cm tall ever since her introduction in 1905, but in the summer of 1933, Bleuette became 29 cm tall.  She had a re-designed body with longer, more slender legs, and slightly smaller feet.  As with many things in the 1930s, Bleuette was streamlined!

Photo below courtesy of Peggy Spivey.

301-1& 1/4 Bleuette of 1933

The least expensive 15 franc Bleuette advertised in the winter of 1932-33 with long or short artificial hair disappeared from the catalog, and Bleuette now cost 24 francs in bisque with human hair curls or braids, or 28 francs with an unbreakable pressed pasteboard head and human hair wig.  After this G-L fashions and Bleuette sewing patterns published in La Semaine de Suzette were sized to fit only the new taller doll.

However, the thirties were economically lean years in France as well as the United States. Gautier-Languereau Publications could ill afford to keep spare dolls and doll parts in their inventory, when they could be selling more Bleuettes.  Beginning late in 1935 Gautier-Languereau Publications began to advertise a reduced-price Bleuette, 5 francs less than the new 29 cm model, but able to wear the new catalog and sewing pattern wardrobes. 


 A 28 cm "sale" Bleuette with an early 60 8/0 mold head.

French Bleuette expert, the late Colette Merlen, researched and wrote of this “sale Bleuette” in her second book, Bleuette: Poupée de la Semaine de Suzette, Volume II, which has been translated by American Bleuette expert, Agnes Sura. Madame Merlen tells us that the characteristics of the “sale Bleuette” are these:

  • Height:  28 cm (11 inches)
  • Head:  theoretically, any authentically-marked Bleuette head from 1905 through 1932 with the exception of the premiere head, of which there were none left over.
  • Eyes:  blue, brown, black, fixed or sleeping—as appropriate to each head mold.
  • Wigs:  the entire gamut of mohair, human hair, or artificial hair, straight or curled, long or bobbed, blonde or a range of browns, with typical SFBJ cardboard pate.
  • Body:  the usual pre-1933 SFBJ size 2 body, marked 2 on the upper back.
  • Lower legs:  the typical Bleuette leg with half-moon knee cap representation marked 1 on the sole of the feet.  Madame Merlen felt they might have size 2 feet in some cases, but I have not seen any so far.
  • Arms:  regular Bleuette arms, or the thin, shorter arms often found on dolls of the WWI period, 1914 to 1918, when shortages caused substitutions.
  • Thighs:  turned wood of 6 cm in length, with smooth rounded top and no notch in the front of the thigh. These thighs are 1 cm longer than those of the 27 cm Bleuette.

    L to R: 27 cm Bleuette, two sale Bleuettes, 29 cm Bleuette

It is the 28 cm height and the 6 cm round-top thighs that are the most identifiable characteristics of the Bleuettes advertised at a sale price from 1935 through 1937.  In order to satisfy the purchasers of these dolls that G-L fashions and LSDS patterns would fit their less-costly Bleuettes, G-L Publications compromised by making them taller, but still using the parts on hand.  The dolls were all made up with longer thighs so that they were only 1 cm (about 3/8ths inch) shorter than the new 29 cm Bleuettes.  Advertising for the sale dolls clearly states that all Bleuette’s clothing will fit them.

BELOW:  28 cm sale Bleuette legs, left,                            compared to 29 cm Bleuette legs, right.


No 6/0 mold Bleuette has been documented as a sale Bleuette, but there have been found SFBJ 60 8/0 mold heads, Unis France 60 8/0 heads, and Unis France 301-1 heads.  Presumably, the head mold of SFBJ 301-1 could also have been used to make up a reduced-price Bleuette.  Possibly the pressed pasteboard head of the 251-2 mold introduced in 1928 might also be found on the sale bodies, but it is likely that they were simply put on the new taller body since the 251-2 mold was sold as a 29 cm doll in both bisque and pasteboard through 1936.  Of course, the Unis France 301-1&1/4  bisque and 301-1&1/2 pressed pasteboard “unbreakable” heads were the new models sold at the regular price, and they continued to be sold as Bleuette for the rest of her run. 

 ABOVE:  Left, 27 cm UF 60 8/0 Bleuette; right, 28 cm UF 60 8/0 sale Bleuette. Photo courtesy of Agnes Sura 

 Now that these distinguishing characteristics are known, it is to be hoped that more examples of the sale Bleuettes will be discovered and documented by collectors.

 This article was also published in Doll News, Winter 2010.