|The model shown in the trick photo on the left is a close replica of the 1872 Berger Model guillotine as it existed in 1907 when the picture on the right was taken. The B&W photo is part of a set made in the alley beside the storage building, where the guillotines were kept, on Rue Folie-Regnault. The model is made of mahogany rather than the oak of the original because mahogany has a finer grain that looks better in the smaller scale than the coarse oak grain. The basket shown with the model is made of mahogany, steel and hemp rope with brass hardware. The rope is stained and varnished which makes the fibers stick together and look like the cane that was used in the real basket construction. Inside the basket is a full zinc liner as can be seen in the pictures of the dilapidated Saigon guillotine (See "L'art de bien couper" website).|
| This is another comparison shot between the model and one of the 1907 photographs. This time the pictures are taken from the rear. The folding oak shield, sitting to the side, was designed to surround the zinc tub to prevent blood spraying during the execution. It has been called the "photographer's" shield, refering to the nickname of the executioner's assistant in charge of pulling the head of the condemned into the lunette.
The rear support braces differ slightly in the shape of the lower attachment tabs at the base frame. The 1907 pictures were taken during a "lull" in the executions in France when President Falliere systematically commuted all death sentences. No executions took place from 1905 to 1909 when public opinion turned against Falliere for commuting the sentence of the pedophile-assassin, Soleilland. Public pressure forced him to refuse pardon to the next group of thugs awaiting the guillotine. Thus, in January 1909, the executions resumed with a quadruple affair in Bethune, where the "Bandits of Hazebrouck", led by the Pollet brothers, met their fate.
|My Berger guillotine models can be completely disassembled as seen in the shots on the left, where I have arranged the parts of two dismantled mahogany models as they would have been stored in Deibler's Folie-Regnault garage or in the shed at Fresnes prison. The lower photo shows one of my best copies of the mouton, which includes cast bronze rollers and a steel spike nearly identical in shape to the real one
After 1872, the real guillotine was always transported from city to city (and after 1939 from prison to prison) to execute condemned criminals. There was only one execution team and 2-3 guillotines for all of France. After 1977, executions for all of France were to take place at the Fresnes prison near Paris, however no one was executed there before the Death Penalty was abolished in 1981.
The design of the modern guillotine was optimized not only to make it easily transportable but also to allow quick and silent assembly required to keep the condemned prisoner unaware of the events to follow until the last minute. French law, unlike US law, specified that the condemned person must not know the time or date of his execution.
The model is designed to be taken apart along the same lines as the real machine. The bascule assembly is secured to the machine with just two nuts at the front and a single bolt at the rear. The lunette is simply slipped in and out of position through a cut-out in the left track and does not require any other assembly. All the main wood members lock together via mortise and tenon joints. Eighteen custom-machined bolts are threaded into embedded metal plates at all the main connecting points between the T-braces, frame, uprights, chapiteau and bascule support. As these bolts are removed the entire machine breaks down into assemblies that were easy to move. After dissassembly, the left post was stripped of the rope storage hooks, the lever and lever bracket were removed, the lunette lock button was pushed in and secured with a screw and the lever rest knob was unscrewed, leaving the post without any protrusions and making it easier to handle.
One of the benefits of copying the design of the real machine down to the connection details is that it makes my models very strong and rugged.
|Here is the real body basket photographed in 1907 with the reproduction that I make for the guillotine models. The baskets themselves are in fact complex models. This one took over 1,000 feet of hemp and 40 feet of steel rods to construct.|
|This historical photograph on the right is part of the same set taken in 1907. The dismantled guillotine is leaning against the front gate of the storage depot. These same doors are seen from the other side in many pictures of the Folie-Regnault building. There is even a picture of the fourgon, carrying the guillotine, emerging through this gate for the execution of Henri Duchemin in 1909. On the picture of the model the parts are laid out in roughly the same fashion. Note the similarities in the construction of the uprights.|
|The photo on the left is from Le Monde Illustre, February 1907. The article discusses the "imminent" abolition of the death penalty after a whole year (1906) without an execution and then gives a full technical insight into of the secrets of the guillotine using various photos taken in the garage Rue de la Folie-Regnault. The chapiteau on this picture has been touched up to delete the open mechanism door which should have been on the left and replaces it with a large cavity running the full length of the crossbar. Note that the traced outline of this same picture is also used in Jacques Delarue's book "Le Metier de Bourreau" to illustrate the operation of the release mechanism.|
|Above a slightly different angle on the guillotine from the back side, taken in 1907 in the alley next to the storage garage where Deibler kept the guillotines and the fourgon until 1911. Below are some additional detail shots of six different 1/6 scale top grade models and two execution scenes recreated by Jose Jimenez, using 1/6th scale custom figures. Click on any picture to see larger version.|