A rare late 19th/early 20th-century papier mache bulldog, complete with original growling mechanism and one of few to come up at auction in recent years, will go under the hammer in the Cotswolds this month.
The model dog, named Pierre, will go on sale at The Cotswold Auction Company this July 25 and 26 with an estimate of £400 to £600.
Papier mache French bulldogs, known colloquially as ‘growlers’, were originally created in France in the 1890s in homage to the breed, which is closely related to the better-known British bulldog.
Auctioneer Lindsey Braune said: “We were going to call him Winston, until we realised he’s French. He still growls when you pull on his lead, but his bark is worse than his bite. We think he’s rather cute and feel sure he’ll win the hearts of buyers at auction.”
Modelled in papier mache, Pierre has a fine hair collar, a copy of the straw collars worn by French bulldogs to stop them getting their heads stuck in the openings to badgers’ dens.
In excellent condition, he still has his original lead, which, when pulled, causes him to bare his teeth and growl.
French bulldogs were hugely popular in high society during the early 20th century, both in France and the UK, and a variety of decorative items were produced celebrating the breed, including music boxes, porcelain figurines – even cuckoo clocks.
Their rarity is due largely to the material used – papier mache – which is easily damaged by curious children or other dogs who might mistake the realistic toy for a rival.
The Cotswold Auction Company will hold its next Toys sale, at which Pierre will feature, on July 25 and 26.