IMPORTANT COLLECTION Robert GAY
83000 postcards of rare and curious subjects in 388 lots
Very numerous themes
Religions-anticlericalism-separation of the Church and the State
History of the postcard
Expert : Olivier Le Duault. Tel : 07 49 00 36 34
Exhibition : Tuesday June 21 from 2 pm to 6 pm and Wednesday June 22 from 9:30 am to 12 pm
Selling expenses : 26,4
The Robert Gay collection is a fascinating plunge into the world of everyday life at the beginning of the 20th century. Life photographed to be reproduced in the form of postcards. A world that we can see, real, alive, animated.
The advantage of using this cheap medium, accessible to the greatest number, allowed to take the time to photograph everything, to show everything. These are moving testimonies of the society of the time, of its lightness, its concerns, its vision of the present moment and of the world.
This freedom of iconography also allowed caricaturists and illustrators of all horizons to expose themselves without hindrance. We thus discover all types of messages and ideas proudly reproduced and destined to travel all over France.
The luck of having had in hands these more than 83 000 old postcards which are proposed today to the sale makes it possible to realize that very far from representing a formidable collection for "collectors", it is especially and above all essentially an incredible documentary source, a true iconographic museum. It goes far beyond the simple notion of the term "postcard".
The other chance of this collection is that it was built with the fierce will of its creator, Robert Gay, to treat it not under the geographical aspect but with a thematic approach. Thus Robert Gay did not collect the streets of such and such a city or village but the trades, types of people, specificities and ways of life of the time.
Thus he shares with us the wanderings of bear showers and bird charmers, the picturesque life of old Paris and its forgotten trades, the marginalized and beggars, witches and fortune tellers, the fairs, village festivals, markets, cafés, restaurants, guiguettes, life in the circus with its animal trainers, contortionists or clowns, the life at sea with the professionals of fishing or the tourists in holiday, the sportsmen and adventurers of all kinds, the maritime, railway or motor car transport or pulled by any type of animals, the life in the mines, the industrial exploitations, the political or criminal affairs, the illustrious illustrators and caricaturists of any hair, funny, exotic fancy cards, of another time...
When he worked on a subject, on a theme, he understood the entirety of its purpose, not limiting himself to a "classic" and formatted vision of the subject. This enlightened, relentless and passionate amateur thus succeeded in constituting his museum, a museum jealously guarded and never exhibited, a museum that an exhibition today allows to highlight before dispersion.
Olivier Le Duault
Annick Mariet, his sister, was kind enough to write us a brief summary of Robert GAY's life.
When he arrived in Paris in 1949, Robert Gay had just finished his engineering studies at the ENSEEEHT, in Toulouse.
Passionate about cinema since his adolescence, during his student life, he animated a film club in Toulouse. This explains why, as soon as he arrived in the capital, he joined a group of young film lovers. In this group, he became friends with Claude Chabrol, with whom he worked as an extra (Chabrol was still a student), which led him, a few years later, to join the "Cahiers du cinéma" group where he met François Truffaut.
Under the influence of these enthusiasts, he even thought, for a while, of giving up his work to start directing.
But for some time, a friend who was an antique dealer introduced him to another world, that of the postcard. A little excessive in everything he undertakes, he launches into the realization of a collection with frenzy.
From then on, he became a regular at the St Ouen flea market every Saturday morning, getting up at dawn to unpack. He runs to the secondhand booksellers, the secondhand dealers, the garage sales.
As the volume of his collection increased, he had to move from a hotel room to a small apartment and finally to a large house that he had fitted out to store and classify his voluminous collection.
He took an early retirement in order to have more time to classify his finds, especially since he had recently returned to his first love, and had started researching cinema, particularly the silent film period, of which he became a specialist. He spends his time in research at the national library, he buys a lot of documentation, he frequents the sales of the Argenteuil cinema hall, new boxes invade his apartment, there are some everywhere, under the furniture, the beds, in big cupboards.