French family-owned company Roullet & Decamps was founded 130 years ago
Roullet & Decamps was a French company operating in the 19th – 20th centuries, which specialized in producing mechanical toys. After the great success at the Paris exhibition in 1889, the family firm was reorganized and renamed to Roullet & Decamps. The founders of the company were Jean Roullet, Henriette Decamps and Henry Ernest Decamps. By this time, the company already employed about 50 people, including mechanics, watchmakers, sculptors and dressmakers.
Roullet & Decamps, one of the most versatile and creative of all the Paris automaton makers, was in business for more than 120 years. Its remarkable accomplishments began with mechanical toys, then musical automata, and finally, in the first years of the twentieth century, electric automated displays for store windows.
The Roullet & Decamps history has been documented comprehensively in the outstanding work of Christian Bailly and Sharon Bailly, Automata, The Golden Age 1848 - 1914, (English edition, Sotheby's, London, 1987) at pp. 113-153. When that book was published, Roullet and Decamps was still in business.
By 1995, when the firm closed its doors for the last time, the craft of the automata maker was recognized as a cultural asset worthy of preservation. The collection of automata and electronic displays was disbursed. Most was send to the museum of automata in Souillac.
More than 60 items created by Roullet & Decamp are presented in the museum Collection exposition in the section Amusing Automata.