store front

Reconstruction of the Verrière Toy

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network
1930 - 1986
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The Verrière toy shop opened its doors in the centre of Dijon in 1930. If the window seemed to be already bursting at the seams with toys, inside it was a child’s paradise. But "in Guy Verrière’s shop, not everything was necessarily on display. You had to negotiate, show that you were interested in and even enthusiastic about toys...and if by chance you insisted on getting the toy you had been dreaming about, Mr. Verrière would whisper to you, ’Wait a moment.’ And because he wanted to satisfy his clients, he would invite you to climb the stairs leading to the second floor. You then entered Ali Baba’s cave! The shadows in the room reinforced the atmosphere of mystery. Boxes were piled on deep shelves that lined the entire room and from them spilled out articulated Ric and Rac, jumping rabbits, seesaw ducks, riders on mice, knife grinders, firemen operating a hand pump, tow trucks, boats, and just about every animal in Noah’s Ark, formally parading all in a row!" (Dijon clair-obscur, Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, Perrin de Puycousin, 1994).

Mr. Verrière bought his wooden toys in the Jura, a region not far from Burgundy. Today Read More
The Verrière toy shop opened its doors in the centre of Dijon in 1930. If the window seemed to be already bursting at the seams with toys, inside it was a child’s paradise. But "in Guy Verrière’s shop, not everything was necessarily on display. You had to negotiate, show that you were interested in and even enthusiastic about toys...and if by chance you insisted on getting the toy you had been dreaming about, Mr. Verrière would whisper to you, ’Wait a moment.’ And because he wanted to satisfy his clients, he would invite you to climb the stairs leading to the second floor. You then entered Ali Baba’s cave! The shadows in the room reinforced the atmosphere of mystery. Boxes were piled on deep shelves that lined the entire room and from them spilled out articulated Ric and Rac, jumping rabbits, seesaw ducks, riders on mice, knife grinders, firemen operating a hand pump, tow trucks, boats, and just about every animal in Noah’s Ark, formally parading all in a row!" (Dijon clair-obscur, Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, Perrin de Puycousin, 1994).

Mr. Verrière bought his wooden toys in the Jura, a region not far from Burgundy. Today, this region is still the largest producer of wooden toys in France.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

display

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne Shop, Wooden Toy Display

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


After admiring the wooden toys, nostalgic visitors can buy new toys, including some reproductions, in the museum shop. For example, the yellow dog on wheels and the five shooting-gallery ducks are reproductions of toys by Benjamin Rabier. In addition, this French designer (1869-1939) wrote illustrated stories for children in which animals played the heroes, and he also illustrated La Fontaine's fables. We can still find string tops and blocks just like those of bygone days. Although the shapes and principles are the same, the brightly coloured paint jobs and the pictures are very much up-to-date.
After admiring the wooden toys, nostalgic visitors can buy new toys, including some reproductions, in the museum shop. For example, the yellow dog on wheels and the five shooting-gallery ducks are reproductions of toys by Benjamin Rabier. In addition, this French designer (1869-1939) wrote illustrated stories for children in which animals played the heroes, and he also illustrated La Fontaine's fables. We can still find string tops and blocks just like those of bygone days. Although the shapes and principles are the same, the brightly coloured paint jobs and the pictures are very much up-to-date.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

toys painted by children

Children's Workshop

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Every Wednesday, the museum welcomes children from 8 to 12 years of age in its workshop. The theme for the first three months of 1997 was wooden toys. After seeing the wooden toys in the museum’s showcases, children could make toys of their choosing from scrap wood from a factory in the Jura.
Every Wednesday, the museum welcomes children from 8 to 12 years of age in its workshop. The theme for the first three months of 1997 was wooden toys. After seeing the wooden toys in the museum’s showcases, children could make toys of their choosing from scrap wood from a factory in the Jura.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

children

Children in the Wednesday workshop making toys

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Jura craftsman

Small factories still exist in the Jura today. The craftsman here is turning a miniature box. This factory specializes in tiny objects like furniture for dolls' houses.

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


assembly

Toy assembly in a Jura factory

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the role of toys in French culture;
  • Describe the history of toys in French culture;
  • Describe the relationship between materials, artistry, and method of manufacture with form and function, using historic French toys as examples.

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