Fine Quality Antique French Toy “Dancing Couple”, Circa 1880. Rare


American, Circa 1880 c.

11 1/2""
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One of a kind, fine quality antique toy, “Dancing Couples” is of French manufacture; it is marked in raised lettering “A.L. Paris” at the top of the base. It is also very similar to several French toys noted in “Antique Toys” by Jeffrey Levitt, and the young lady’s face is almost identical to the bisque face on a French toy referenced on page 209 plate #372.
This outstanding toy consists of two figures, a young man resembling Napoleon Bonaparte, and a young lady, dressed in period clothes with bisque (porcelain) faces and heads and wooden legs. The base is some type of metal composite consisting of a cast lead alloy. The polychromed hand painted blue and red metal dance floor is also a lead alloy. The wire stands supporting the figures is of ferrous metal.
The bisque faces are very lifelike with flesh tones and blue eyes; rosy cheeks to the lady with bisque auburn hair. He is dressed in original Napoleon type period military clothes with sword in hand and a two cornered hat with original brass bells hanging on the ends. Crocheted cream colored trim decorates the muted blue uniform. She is wearing a highly decorated muted red dress with fancy crocheted trim, especially to her collar, and a piece of red jewelry in the shape of a religious cross completes her decoration. Based on the style of the toy and clothing, in conjunction with French manufacture, the “Dancing Couple” is Circa 1880.

Dimensions: 11 1/2″ high x 5″ wide x 4″ deep

To operate:
Handle with care and use ever so gently as you would a museum item, as this toy meets all of the criteria to warrant that designation.
There is a string that self wraps around the vertical axle upon gently pulling on it. After gently pulling on the string and releasing, the two dancers simulate dancing while they move their feet back and forth as the dance floor revolves in a circular manner. I would not “play” with the toy, but it’s always nice to try it to see how it works or to demonstrate once in a while to excited collectors.

The clothing and condition of the toy is in an excellent state of preservation and is completely original; a truly charming and exceptionally rare and unusual toy.
This toy is one of the more special toys I’ve owned and from my own personal collection of 40 years. It came from an upscale San Francisco estate a number of years ago.

Eleven images accompany this listing.