|Rochard dolls are among the most unique and rare antique dolls known
to collectors today. These French fashion dolls are prized and revered
for their stunning "stanhope jeweled necklaces" which can sometimes be
quite elaborate in design. A.E. Rochard made his wonderful doll
creations in the latter 1860's through the mid 1870's and even today
dollmakers pay homage to his genius when they create dolls employing
Rochard's technique (The Rochard Technique). Most Rochard dolls make
their residence in museums so catching a glimpse of one other than
through a glass case is a scarce occurrence. If given the opportunity to
closely examine these unique fashion dolls, one would find that within
their ornately jeweled necklaces, each stone is home to it's own
charming secret, a tiny microscopic photo. While protected within the
jewels themselves, these well hidden microphotos provide a porthole to
the Victorian past and a peep into the mind of their creator. Little has
been known about Rochard and the dolls that bear his name, and even
less was known about the wondrous "stanhope" jewels they possess.|
In most ways the jeweled Rochard dolls are quite typical of other period fashion dolls made by Jumeau and Barrois in particular. Rochard dolls are exclusively young ladies and not child dolls. The large shoulder-head example shown is very finely painted. The bisque is a pure and topically translucent white that resembles bleached ox bone in tone. A near imperceptible tint of pinkish-beige softens the pale white ground. The eyebrows are light brown and comprised of fine controlled individual strokes, as are the blackish eyelashes. She dawns beautiful blue threaded glass paperweight eyes that are proportionately large and set into hand-cut openings. The mouth and nostrils are pierced as are the detached lobes of the ears. The cheeks are slightly exaggerated, medium rosy pink that is well blended. Her chin has a similar but more subtle treatment. The lips, tear ducts, and nostrils are painted a darker red shade that is complimentary to the cheeks. The lips are outlined to add further detail and accentuation. All in all, the painting is skillfully executed with dissimilarities that add a very human element to the character and overall impression of the doll. Where this doll, and other Rochard dolls begin to break the mold, is with their obvious oversize "stanhope-jewel" embellished necklaces that are often cleverly colored as well. Other differences include a window cut into the back of the shoulderplate and, in the case of this example, the kaleidoscope housed in the head and visible through the tiny opening in her slightly pursed lips.
In order to understand Rochard and his vision for the dolls, one must first have a basic knowledge of the history and evolution of stanhopes and microphotography.
The stanhope is named for Lord Charles Stanhope (1753-1816) who was a British statesman, scientist and inventor. He invented the stanhope lens before any form of photography existed. His lens however was much larger in size (1/2" or more in diameter) and purposed as a reading aid and for medical examination of tissues and specimens. In general it was a single lens hand held microscope, that when placed on an object, the object would appear highly magnified and in clear focus.
The first microphoto was made in 1852 and mounted on a glass microscope slide plate by John Benjamin Dancer (1812-87), a London born scientist and optical specialist. He used the equivalent of a "microscope-in-reverse" to miniaturize back-lit negative photos, thus producing a positive image. To view his microphoto slides one needed the high powered magnification of a microscope, a quite expensive and cumbersome scientific tool in that era. For this reason, his microphotograph slides had "limited appeal" to the masses and therefor little commercial value. Dancer's microphotos led not only to the development of stanhopes, but also to the infamous "microdots" employed in "Cold War" espionage practices by clandestine agencies and operatives worldwide. He was quite a prolific inventor and was also the first to discover and describe "ozone". Dancer's slides are coveted today by a small faction of collectors.
In May of 1859, Rene Prudent Dagron of Paris was credited with the creation and patent of microphotographic stanhope lenses he called "photographie microscopique". Dagron had taken Dancer's microphotograph invention and cleverly coupled it with a miniaturized version of Lord Stanhope's magnifying lens to produce what we now know as the "stanhope" or "stanhope lens". Dagron made his own microphotos of extraordinary quality and set up a production facility to produce the necessary optical lenses. It is a variation of Dagron's stanhope which is found in the dolls of Rochard. Dagron became a photographer to the Imperial Family of France. When the Prussians took the city during the year long "Siege of Paris" in 1870, he and his equipment were covertly flown out of Paris by hot air balloon so that his microphoto technologies could be used for secret communications between besieged Paris and the rest of France. The "secret" microphotos were affixed to the quills of carrier pigeons and flown in and out of the city crossing enemy lines. This operation became known as the "Pigeon Post". It was not a very successful operation for the French. The invading Prussians discovered the pigeons and responded by relocating falcons and other birds of prey to the area. The pigeons were easily attacked and quickly annihilated by their aggressive flying foes. After the siege, Dagron returned to the business of photography and the production of stanhopes.
"Stanhope" or "stanhope lens", in the sense of this treatise, is the term used to describe a Victorian era optical lens that incorporates a microscopic photograph, the type which Dagron produced. It can be explained as a tiny fixed-focus microscope whereby the slide or subject (in this case a microphoto) is permanently mounted at the optimal focal distance allowing for a highly magnified and clear view of the image. In basic, it is a plano-convex type lens in which the exact focal point is the plano (flat) side of the lens itself. A typical stanhope has a diameter of about 2.5-2.7 millimeters, a length of about 7 millimeters and a rate of magnification of about 160X. Stanhopes were used to enhance a vast array of items, both common and uncommon, starting about 1859. They could be found in novelty, religious, commemorative, luxury, keepsake, tourist, mourning, utilitarian and many other Victorian era items. Examples include jewelry, watch-fobs and watch-keys, pocketknives & penknives, pens, pencils, sewing implements, advertising trinkets, inkwells, canes, pipes, cigarette lighters & holders, perfume bottles, manicure sets, doll binoculars, souvenirs, and the list goes on. Among stanhope collectors, an item housing a stanhope or stanhope lens is also referred to as a "stanhope". Stanhopes clearly magnify their carefully embedded microphotos, which are about 1 millimeter in size. Sometimes there can be several photos found within this 1 square millimeter area and many times each photo has been individually titled. To view a stanhope, you must look into the dome-curved end at a distance of not more than an eyelash length. The image seems to miraculously appear and the resolution is often very stunning. You can even see the tiny photos clearly in a dark room with just the light of a candle.
Antoine Edmond Rochard's life and vocation are still quite a mystery in many ways. There isn't much known about Rochard's personal or business dealings. The few brief articles that have been written about him, and particularly his dolls, are filled with conjecture and misinformation derived from speculation of few facts. It is his patent applications and the amazing dolls he produced that have become his greatest legacy and provide us with much of the reliable information about him and his work. Rochard is purported to have worked in the jewelry manufacturing trade for 4 or 5 years during the 1860's. Stanhope jewelry items were the rage and a staple of Parisian jewelry manufacture at the time. If assumed true, it would have likely been how Rochard was introduced to stanhopes and also an imaginable influence leading to his desire to accessorize porcelain dolls.
Rochard's process for making the stanhope jewels was much different than that of Dagron and others. The principle difference was in the method of manufacturing the lenses. Stanhopes were customarily made by precisely grinding and polishing the ends of solid pieces of glass. Rochard's method employed molding the lenses from molten glass that was pressed into an iron form. Along with typical cylindrical or circular shaped lenses, he was able to mold his lenses into triangle, oval, pentagon and other shapes that better emulate gemstone cuts. Rochard's stanhope jewels were also comparatively over-sized and in the example doll they range in diameter from about 4.5 to 6 millimeters and have a rate of magnification of about 150x. To put it in perspective, if one takes a drop of pond water and places it on the end of the lens where the picture is mounted, single celled organisms are clearly visible. Rochard's photos are extremely fine grain microphotos and are the same size as those used in the manufacture of smaller stanhopes. This makes them appear disproportionately smaller when viewed in such a large diameter. The effect is miraculous when one peers inside to see the image as though it is floating in a vast space of light. There is a certain three-dimensional appearance to the view, similar to that of any stanhope but more pragmatic in display. One of the most impressive characteristics of some of his lenses is the dichroic effect of colors they exhibit. Some Rochard lenses are clear or white looking and others appear to be a peachy yellow or a pink shade. One author suggested the pink is caused by a reflection of the pink dress, but this is not the general case. Rochard "dyed" his photos pink in many of his lenses and therefore they reflect pink when looked at straight on. The peach color comes from a cognac colored mastic or rosinate that was used to surround the square microphoto "cliché". The resulting effect is a sort of "cat's eye" look when seen from a distance. The glue Rochard used to adhere the lenses in the doll was also affirmed to be deliberately colored a creamy pink shade. This adds an element of pink when viewed at an angle. This effect is greatly diminished when the window is covered by the hair and no light is allowed from behind. It is noteworthy to mention that the gold painted "settings" around the gems do enhance the gold or yellow hues reflected by the lenses. Color pigment, dyes and mordants of Rochard's day were often "fugitive" and would fade or disappear over time with exposure to light and atmosphere. This metamorphosis is provable by the fact that the jewels in the choker necklace, specifically those in the side and back, are darker pink than those of the front. Likewise, the mastic or resinous cognac colored material surrounding the microphoto clichés would have become darker over time as resins, varnishes and oils do. The lenses would have certainly appeared more pinkish when the dolls were new than they do today. Rochard's stanhopes require back-light to view and this is the reason a window was cut out of the rear of the shoulder-plate in dolls adorned with his photographic jewels. The window allows ambient light from the room to enter through the back of the shoulder-plate and furnishes more than enough light to see the minuscule microphotos. He even made a provision on some dolls to "hinge" a portion of the wig so that it could be easily moved away from the window to provide light without miffing-up the hairstyle. To view the stanhopes in a doll's shoulderplate, you must hold the doll in a very unorthodox and sometimes precarious way while twisting your neck and head in an effort to look into each stanhope at the proper angle. This process is nearly impossible to execute if the doll has a body attached and it is my presumption that Rochard dolls were never meant to have bodies. It seems like the bodies of Rochard dolls were mostly added later, perhaps at the request of their owners. Some Rochard dolls probably made their way into the fashion and clothing boutiques of Paris as miniature models dawning the trending fashions of the day. Though impossible to really appreciate the microphotographs in the stanhopes through a storefront window, the unique and colorful necklaces would certainly catch the attention of pedestrians as the lenses reflected flashes of colored light.
Rochard dolls do not have any maker markings, stamps or impressions. They bear only the bold red handwritten hieroglyph - Ed. Rochard Depose Brevete S.d.g.d. It is most probable that Rochard was not a doll-maker himself, but rather the "mastermind" of the operation. Parisian doll-making was a "cottage-industry" and it is likely Rochard dolls were made by whomever was willing at the time and able to meet Rochard's demanding requirements for quality. Barrois or Jumeau would certainly have been possible options. The lenses or jewels are obviously formed from casting and were probably made by Rochard as his patent describes. In this case they are all round in shape and variable in size. I find it unlikely that Rochard took on the task of mastering microphotography and more likely he purchased microphoto clichés from the finest of microphotographers. Rochard was probably responsible for adding the colored dyes to the photos and mounting them on the lenses. One microphoto bears the tiniest of inscriptions, a nearly unnoticeable "PD". The only name that comes to mind is Prudent Dagron, the inventor of the stanhope and arguably the finest microphotographer in history. There is no proof that Dagron made the images for Rochard, but the photographic quality and contrast rival and resemble Dagron's work. The information that has come down to us concerning other microphotographers of the day amounts to less than what we know about Rochard. Dagron must have had formidable competitors as he was battling a dozen and half lawsuits at that time in order to protect his stanhope patent...which he eventually lost.
skilled violin maker is driven to copy the finest of Stradivari violins, some doll-makers strive to emulate the wonderful works created by the greatest French and German doll makers. Most artists in this category will know that this is not an easy task to accomplish well. Tools, materials and methods have been lost, forgotten, replaced, and discarded. For the violin maker, it is the woods, varnishes and acoustic geometry secrets that have been lost to most makers over time. For the doll maker, it is the porcelain bisque and paints that have no credible substitutes. In the case of Rochard's dolls, it is the lenses that have been the greatest loss of all.
Today's "Rochard Technique" varies greatly from that of Rochard. The biggest difference of course are the jewels themselves. Modern Rochard jewels are simple glass cabochons or semi-spheres in which a printed picture or photo is fixed to the flat side and can be seen slightly magnified circa 2X - 5X on the curved or convex side. The pictures are low resolution and large in size, especially when compared to film and photographic emulsions used to make stanhopes. The photos basically cover the entire diameter of the cabochon. They are adhered to the flat underside of the cabochon using clear glue or nail polish. When viewed from outside, the picture looks as though it is on the surface or just below the surface and appears somewhat distorted, much like the objects found in "snow-globes". This type of magnification is most used in cheap novelty and kitsch products like advertising pens and plastic beach souvenirs and on a larger scale within acrylic paperweights. The cabochons are also much larger in diameter than Rochard's lenses, sometimes twice the diameter or more. Rather than collecting light from the back and projecting it through like a stanhope, the cabochon gather light from the front that bounces back to the onlookers eye. This eliminates the need for a cutout in the back of the shoulderplate. They are hardly comparable to those of Rochard.
As necessity and desire drive invention, timing is said to be everything. The "Rochard Technique" was developed at a time when few facts and little truth was known about Rochard dolls and the microphotographic stanhope jewels they wear. The quality of microphotography was on the decline, primarily due to advances in modern photographic technology. The old "tried and true" processes were discarded and abandoned for newer more efficient production processes. The added efficiency and ease resulted in a decline in photographic quality. Stanhopes soon fell from grace and were no longer in vogue. This led to a period of extinction for the stanhope. The last company to produce them was absolved in the early 1970's, only after having made in excess of 80 million stanhopes over a 50 year span.
In 1996, Stanhope MicroWorks re-invented and began providing hand-made stanhopes following traditional methods to produce lenses comparable in quality to those of Dagron. Stanhope MicroWorks, is the only producer of stanhope lenses in the world today. Recently, after having restored two Rochard dolls, Stanhope MicroWorks perfected the making of true "Rochard Jewels". The new jewels can be custom made using any desired photo, graphic or text. There are also a variety of "stock images" to choose from. Microphotographic jewels are available in glass, acrylic and a hybrid of the two materials. The new Rochard jewels are 6 millimeter diameter and smaller 3 millimeter diameter stanhopes are available as well. Acrylic Rochard lenses can be filed or sanded to reduce the diameter or to change their shape. They can be made to fit in any size hole. The jewels are available in clear and a variety of gemstone colors. The process for installing the stanhopes is similar to that of the "Rochard Technique". The holes are pierced or drilled and reamed before firing. The holes are naturally made oversize to account for shrinkage when fired. It is preferable, but not necessary, to thicken the bisque in the area of the lenses in order to provide greater surface area for adhering them. A cut-out section in the back of the shoulder plate is also required to allow light through as discussed earlier. As for Rochard paste, the two dolls pictured had necklaces that were painted with fine detail and fired into the bisque using shimmery antique gold paint that showed dull hues of olive where worn. The paint was flat on the surface and not raised. In my opinion the jewels make enough of a statement and the raised paste is more of a detraction and it doesn't provide the detail achievable with paint and a fine brush.
The modern Rochard jeweled doll with the jeweled cross necklace was made by Patricia Loveless for Stanhope MicroWorks.
Rochard Jewels are available exclusively at Stanhope MicroWorks.
Author's Note - Though it took the concerted efforts of a talented team of specialists to research, record and restore these precious dolls, I would like to thank the one person that made it all possible..."JB", the owner of both Rochard dolls. She has gone "above & beyond", giving great trust and patience during the restorations and has graciously allowed me to share these incredible dolls from her private collection. Others who's expertise and experience were invaluable to the success of this work include, Andy & Becky Ourant of the Village Doll Shop in Adamstown, PA. Extra thanks to Andy for the great photos and all the "moral support". Further thanks to Chuck Buysse for his fine conservation work. Special thanks to Darryl Zweizig, restoration specialist at Stanhope MicroWorks for his quality work and the knowledge, skills, talent and experience he provided. I'd also like to thank my wife, Tara, for her lasting support and tolerance of my endeavors. Lastly, Thanks to Ed Rochard of Paris for creating these rare and wondrous dolls.
About the Author - Born in the US and German trained, Michael Sheibley is a world renown Master Violin Maker & Restorer who has won numerous prizes and medallions in US and European violin making competitions. He is a leading authority on stanhopes and microphotography. His stanhope obsession began when he first discovered a stanhope nestled in the frog of a valuable French violin bow. After spending the next 3 years grinding optical lenses and teaching himself the art of microphotography, he founded Stanhope MicroWorks, and reintroduced stanhopes to the world in 1996. Stanhope MicroWorks specializes in the manufacture of stanhopes, stanhope restoration & repair, and the sale, purchase and appraisal of vintage & antique stanhopes...and now, "Rochard Microphotographic Jewels". He is also the owner of Stanhope Jewelry Company, manufacturing & selling jewelry that features stanhopes.
Posted by © Michael Sheibley on 12/11/2014 to Vintage & Antique Stanhopes