Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vintage "Pantin" Jumping-Jack Paper Dolls

I love late 1800's and early 1900's paper dolls; especially "mechanical" paper dolls.  
These are paper dolls that come in "parts" that you piece together with brads, 
eyelets or other fastening techniques.  
They can be called a variety of names by collectors such as:
 "jumping jacks", articulated, mechanical, jointed, movable, dancing... paper dolls.

I personally collect the German made L&B articulated ballerina an prima donna dolls and in my search for those I keep locating images of Pantins from France.

Vintage Sheet of French "Jumping-Jack" Pantin - Paper Dolls

There were a series of  Pantin "Dancing-Jack-Puppet" dolls produced in France in the mid-late 1800's by d'Epinal that I keep running across that have an interesting look to them.
Assembled correctly, these dolls would "dance" - it required both the used of attaching the limbs of each figure and then a process of attaching string between the limbs so they could then be put in motion.  See more about Jumping-Jacks HERE and on string assembly HERE


Update 10-09-12
I've created a basic "Pantin" assembly sheet. 
I hope you find it helpful in making your figures "dance"
 Remember - If you are going to make a "dancing" version you need to 
make sure your doll is on very sturdy materal like a light weight 
chip board so that the parts don't rip or tear when you work it.

Basic Assembly instructions for making a Pantin paper doll "dance"

I can't say that many of vintage pantins intrigue me enough to collect the originals;
however there are a variety of different ones out on the web to look at.
Some of them are of a nice enough quality that you can use them for art projects;
while others are only sufficient for reference like several of the  sheets I'm posting today.

Here are a few of the sheets I've found over the years on the Internet.

French Pantins - Pierrot, Chinese, Turkish, Harlequin
Depending on where and when they were published 
these dolls can appear individually or in sets.

The Turkish man seen on the lower left is not a figure I've run across very often 
so I found this sheet interesting due to his appearance on it.

Pantins - Pierrot & Columbine
The Pierrot is a standard French pantomime character and I've seen him in several versions.
I'm not a big fan of clowns or pantomime so this image usually "creeps" me out a bit.

Columbine -  a standard character in the Commedia dell'Arte. She is Harlequin's mistress.

These characters have been produced in many different versions so if you 
choose to become a collector there is more then one of each character to chase down.

This is a different version of  Columbine and is numbered  #1344 in the d'Epinal line
 This image has recently been offered on eBay as 
have the two Pierrot's that are posted below.
I believe the seller is asking for a starting bid of @ $80 on each.

Pierrot #1345 by d'Epinal

Female Pierrot #1346 by d'Epinal
 I find the female Pierrot to be less "creepy" in appearance than the males.

Pierrot & Pierrette  - Chinese Dancers

This sheet shows both a male and female Pierrot on the top portion and a pair of 
Chinese dancers below.  For some reason it is more common to see the male and less common to see the female but in this sheet we get to see them both.

I have seen the Chinese dancers in a few slightly different color version and if you look at the sheet I listed towards the top of this post you will see a slightly different version of the Chinese Man.
I think these two images are very attractive and have even been so luck as to purchase them in rubber stamp form from Mad Rat Rubber.

Mad Rat Rubber has all four of these vintage "Pantins" from the above 
shown sheet in rubber at - HERE
They also have the male and female Spanish dancer and Cavalier from the sheet shown below.

Titi - Spanish Dancers - Mousquetaire - Bobeche - Menetrier #1371 by d'Epinal
Not only did d'Epinal produce their characters individually and in sets they 
reproduced them a variety of times over the years they were in production. 
The above sheet shows #1371 while the exact same set below shows them to be #845

Titi - Spanish Dancers - Mousquetaire - Bobeche - Menetrier #845 by d'Epinal

I believe this to be one of the more attractive sets of Pantins from d'Epinal 
mainly due to the female Spanish dancer in the set. She's just too cute.

Polichinelle and Harlequin - this one was found HERE
Polichinelle - French for the Commedia dell'Arte character Pulcinella aka "Punch"
He is a popular in French theater -  a mocking and comical hunchback; 
 that is easily spotted by his big hooked nose and his protruding belly.
The Pantins I've seen of him, usually show him playing an instrument of some kind.

Harlequin - comic servant characters from the Italian "Commedia dell'Arte".
D'Epinal made several version of this character as they did with many others 
and he is most easily spotted by the diamond pattern on his outfits and usually wears a mask.  
The Columbine character is his mistress.

Pantins - Jocrisse & Pere Cassandre  - Dancing Indians  d'Epinal #1362

Jocrisse - the "loon" is a a harmless but stupid character in theater.
Cassandre - I'm unsure of who this character "Father Cassandre" is
The bottom two are "Dancing Indians"

another version of Jocrisse and Pere Cassandre
This is a different printing version of the Pantins - Jocrisse and Pere Cassandre 
from what was seen int the sheet posted above this one.

I believe most of these printed sheets to be from later in the 1800's and the printing technique 
seems to fairly "rough" with smeared colors and a low grade quality of paper and processing.
Some are of better quality then others; such as the images that are printed one to a page; however occasionally I discover sheets that really stand out from the others.

Here are two examples of Epinal Pantins that are of a much higher artistic quality.
 I discovered them - HERE     (A search for "Pantin" should pull these up
if the link does not take you directly to the images.)
Pantins - Danseurs Bretons (British Dancers)
Pantins Danseurs Chinois et Turcs-  Dancers Chinese and Turks
 This is probably my favorite sheet of "Pantins" discovered so far. 
I would not mind having a high resolution version or even an original sheet for my collection.  Considering this and the sheet above it are located at the French National Library it may be a tall order to fill but one never knows what will appear on the web. 

I think these would be great ornaments on a Christmas tree, don't you?

Although I don't have this lovely set of Chinese and Turkish dancers in a quality that would 
make for good crafting, I do have several others that I was able to "clean up" 
and I will be bringing those to you in the near future.  

Be on the look out for fun "Jumping- Jack" dolls coming soon.


  1. Hi Evelyn, wow, these paper dolls are so cute. Where did you find these?

    Greetings from Belgium,

    1. Hi Anja - I've been collecting them from the internet for several years. Some of them came from auction sites like eBay, others were found by doing a general search for Articulated paper dolls, jumping-jack dolls, Pantin dolls...

      Sadly many of the ones out there are not high quality images but they are fun to look at just the same. Occasionally you can find them in resolution or size that are good to craft with; however some of those require digital "clean-up". I'm in the process of posting some that I've cleaned up, so keep checking back.

      And don't forget to hunt on the internet, since you never know what you will find.


    2. Yeah, that's true, I know all about internet hunting :-)
      By the way, how's the theater search going? Karen from The Graphics Fairy posted a theater recently. It's just black and white, but still, it's beautiful


    3. Hey again Anja - I'm always on the hunt, it never ends (grins).

      I've found a few nice example to add to my growing collection but nothing in a quality I can craft with. That's ok too since I'll probably end up digitally creating a few of my own when I work it into my schedule.

      Thanks for the link to the B&W one by Graphics Fairy, it is pretty and I've even pinned it to my Toy Theater Pinterest board at,
      so thanks for thinking of me.

      Giggles back at you,

  2. Que des trésors! Merci Evelyn! kisses!

    1. Merci Sim - Je pense aussi qu'ils sont petits trésors!
      (Thanks Sim - I think they are little treasures too!)


  3. Hello,
    Interesting post, and I like Colombine paper doll! I love paper dolls, particularly those that represent the history of fashion.
    Many thanks Evelyn!

    1. Welcome Sylvie!

      Yes, she is a pretty one.
      I adore vintage paper dolls and I'm glad you do too.