Gault Miniature Ceramic Houses

 

 

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15mm Peter Laing WW2 British Infantry proceed cautiously through a Southern French village, guided by the brave ladies of Resistance, somewhere in France Summer 1944. (Sadly both Peter Laing figures and Gault Houses have ceased production).

 

A lucky find on a collectibles or junk stall was a £10 teabag box full of a small jumbled collection of miniature ceramic French houses  produced by Gault.

 

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An old PG Tags box of tiny French houses … signed Gault Made in France.

 

I had never heard of ‘Gault Made in France’ but I saw the games potential of this ‘bric a brac’ straight away. They looked close to 15mm scale.

About Gault France ceramic houses

“The magic of Gault houses was born from the combination of the talents of 2 brothers: Jean-Pierre, architect, painter and sculptor, and Dominique, designer and businessman”. http://gault-france.com/gault-history/

Sadly ceramics  production of this attractive little French houses by Gault ceased for a while in 2001 and finally by 2010, due to the expensive production costs of these individually made and painted houses, after about thirty years of production.

This is much the same story of British firm Lilliput Lane which begin in 1982 and ceased production  in 2016 that  https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/lilliput-lane-buildings-for-15mm-figures/

Judging by the long individual making process, I am not surprised that they had high production costs:

Two months were needed to produce a house through 14 manufacturing stages. Sculpting of roofs, shaping and modelling of balconies, pavements…Natural drying, firing at 700°C; rinse-bath with oxides, painting, patina, dust removal, cold enameling at 1000°C and shop-fronts miniaturising. All those stages were necessary to produce a piece finally worthy of seal of Gault. The world of Gault: the charm weaves its spell.” http://gault-france.com

The Gault France site (above) by Stephane is the only English language site I can find about them. It is well worth a visit, a real labour of love. It features pages of a rare Japanese book about them, showing the commonest Provence range that my houses belong to and many more ranges on his website http://gault-france.com/

“J Carlton houses are made of resin instead of ceramic and are generally a bit smaller than the Gault Original (ceramic) houses. A key difference between the ceramic and resin houses is that the ceramic houses were entirely made by hand; each one was unique as the window styles, doors, business name and other aspects of the pieces was different on each one of the same model. The resin houses are made from highly precise molds and therefore each one of the same model are identical.”  Taken from http://gault-france.com website

The resin replacements of the Gault houses still produced and available on the ‘J. Carlton’ website. These are resin moulded, much brighter and, to me, have far less character or texture than the ceramic Gault originals. Like old metal figures, the ceramics also have a satisfying weighty heft about them.

Dominique Gault personally created the design for the comic little metal figurines, vehicles, and town furniture working with a French sculptor or artist  Jean-Pierre Lobel. They do not feature on Lobel’s Art Miniature range, produced surprisingly in the former French colony of Madagascar since 1995. www.figurine-artminiature.com

However the Gault / Lobel figures  are still produced in metal, hand painted and sold through J Carlton or second hand online sites.  I am not too sure of their size, online auction sites suggest about 1 inch high, but they turn these model French towns into something charming and comic, somewhere between Trumpton and Tintin. http://pxlentreprise.fr/jcarlton/categorie-produit/figurines/

This motley collection of Gault houses suggest lots of gaming possibilities, especially in 15mm (they would probably work with 10mm too).  You can mix and move the smaller side buildings around, much as you can in the traditional wooden German toy villages beloved of gamers, to create new combinations of buildings.

 

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Grainy black and white shot of Peter Laing 15mm WW2 British infantry figures still moving cautiously  through this southern French town, Summer 1944..

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It is difficult to resist moving these little houses and outhouses around to make new village or townscapes.

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Like all new gaming finds, these houses rearranged into  a square, a small hamlet or long street suggest gaming scenarios or just atmospheric scene setting.

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The red pantile roof (fairly similar to Roman roof tiles) suggests southern France or Spain, Portugal and ‘the Med’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roof_tiles

With the bell tower, it could a Mexican, Spanish Colonial  or southern states desert village for some of my 15mm Peter Laing  Boers as cowboys or bandits with other American Civil War figures.

With some Peter Laing 15mm Romans stashed away for Christmas to look forward to as opponents  to my Peter Laing Ancient troops, I can see these working as simple Roman buildings. Instead of the maker’s mark of Gault written on the back wall, I may find the words Romans Go Home written instead!

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A more Peninsular feel to these buildings used with Peter Laing 15mm British Infantry of the Napoleonic Wars and Heroscape hexes.

I have tried the smaller Gault buildings out on 4.5 cm Heroscape hexes and they work quite well in a token ‘toy town’ kind of way.

The bigger houses do not sit so well on the hexes, an issue we discussed about ground scales, overhand etc. with hex grids. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/192-hexes-of-joy-affronted-by-re-basing-and-ground-scales/

However they do well enough on a felt gaming cloth.

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Napoleon (Le Petit Caporal)  stops off at “La Vielle Auberge” for “le vin” and the “Boulangerie” for his daily bread with his tiny escort and colour party of 15mm Peter Laing French Napoleonic Infantry figures.

 

Behind the scenes and underneath Gault Houses

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Signed by Gault on the back  –  ceramic graffiti – but what great texture and patina the two month Gault production process leaves.

For those who know such things, here are the maker’s marks or catalogue numbers of the pieces I picked up.

Looking on online sites, now that these Gault ceramics are out of production, even the smallest outhouse seems to be selling for at least twice the price I paid for the whole cardboard tea box of jumbled houses. A lucky day.

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.

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More maker’s marks or catalogue numbers underneath.

 

So I can now say that I own a property in Provence or two … albeit in miniature.

With thanks to Stephane’s excellent Gault-France website http://gault-france.com/gault-original/ for the information.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN or Homme d’ ETAIN (Homme de PLOMB or Man of Lead sounds even better!), 20 August 2017.

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Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

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