Au Griffon - 39 quai de l'Horloge

Jean Charles Favray
Charles Pierre Leydecker
Jeanne Françoise Leydecker
M. Marie père
M. Marie fils
Eugène Victor Patoueille
Eugène Clement Antoine Patoueille
Etienne Antoine Putois
Marie Putois
M. Rochette Jeune
Antoine Marie François Soury

by Brian Stevenson
last updated April, 2017

Figure 1. Photograph of a Parisian optician’s shop at “Au Griffon - 39 quai de l’Horloge”, by Eugène Atget, circa 1902.


Eugène Atget (1857-1927), produced a series of photographs of Paris street scenes during the early 1900s. Among these is a circa 1902 picture that shows the front windows, and some of the interior, of a Parisian “opticien” shop. The image pops up frequently on the internet, and reproduction prints are readily available from commercial sources.

This photograph is notable in context of the project in that it provides visual evidence of the variety of items that might be available from an optician at the turn of the twentieth century. The windows display thermometers, mirrors, barometers, and, on the second shelf up of the center window, drum-style microscopes. The lower shelf of the left window holds what appears to be another microscope, lying in its case. Additional barometers are visible on the wall inside the shop.

It is not obvious from the photograph who was operating this shop at that time. Prominent on the shop’s façade is a carving of a griffin, on a base labeled “Au Griffon”. That phrase is also on a banner over the windows. The window on the far left carries the painted words “Soury Opticien”, and above the door is a word that ends in “chette”. Investigations revealed that all of those elements are associated with over 100 years of optical and scientific instrument shops at this location.

Address numbers of buildings along Quai de l’Horloge changed at least twice during the late 1700s - early 1800s. The building known as number 39 from the mid-1800s onward had previously been assigned number 79 ca. 1800-1820, and number 51 ca. 1775.

An optical and scientific instrument maker named Favray occupied the shop in the photograph from 1801 onward (he had previously been located at 6 Place Thionville). The building was then assigned the address of 79 Quai de l’Horloge. Government records show that a Jean Charles Favray of that address was married in 1817. His father, Jean Francois Favray, was probably the optician and owner of the shop. It being that the Favray business remained active until ca. 1853, it is likely that Jean Charles, or a sibling, took over Jean Francois’ business at some point.

Along with the optician’s shop, the building housed several other businesses. Watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet established a shop there ca. 1775 (when it was designated number 51). He and his successors continued at this site through the 1800s. Later business directories record the simultaneous occupation of this address by an optican, Breguet and at least one additional businesses. It is not known whether all were accessed through a single entry, or via separate doors.

Another manufacturer of optical and scientific equipment was located next-door to Favray and Breguet, owned by a person named Rochette. His father, “Rochette Père”, operated a similar shop at 75 Quai de l’Horloge, and so Favray’s neighbor was known as “Rochette Jeune” (Rochette Junior). Of significance to Atget’s photograph, an 1820 business directory described the address of Rochette’s shop as “au Griffon”.

The name “au Griffon” goes back to at least the early 1700s, although it is not known why it became associated with this particular location. Two generations of opticians, surnamed Marie, worked here. The father, Marie père, reportedly furnished glasswork for the Paris Observatory in 1736. His son is known to have signed a telescope “Marie fils, quai de l’horloge du palais au griffon à Paris 1747”. A microscope by Marie fils is illustrated in Alain Stenger’s “Illustrated History of the Box Microscope”. A telescope signed “Marie au Griffon” is shown below in Figure 2. The business was later acquired from the widow of Marie (presumably, Marie fils), by Etienne Antoine Putois (Figure 3). Etienne was succeeded in business during the early 1800s by his wife, whose first name was Marie. By 1808, Marie Putois had formed a partnership with Rochette Jeune. He became sole owner by 1817, and he was listed in business directories until 1845.

Favray’s optical business was last listed in the 1853 street directory, with a footnote suggesting uncertainty.

In 1853, the building on Quai de l’Horloge, now renumbered 39, was newly occupied by one Leydecker. He was a dealer of “instruments de précision pour les sciences optiques”. This was probably Charles Pierre Leydecker, who until just before that time had a shop at 55 Quai des Augustins. Charles died either just before or just after the move to Quai de l’Horloge. His widow, Jeanne Françoise Leydecker, continued the business for several years. She exhibited at the 1855 Paris Exposition with “un barometre fantaisie, une fontaine de circulation, un baromètre style Louis XV, un féculo metre, des aréomètres et des thermomètres de différents modèles, ainsi que divers instruments pour les sciences”. The Leydecker business was noted as having been awarded Bronze Medals at the 1844 and 1849 Expositions.

In 1854, one Soury, “opticien-fabricant”, moved into 39 Quai de l’Horloge. That year’s business directory appended Soury’s listing with “ancienne maison Favray”, implying that he was successor to Favray. This Soury is the person whose name is painted on the shop window in Atget’s photograph.

Soury was probably Antoine Marie François Soury, who was recorded as being an “opticien” on the record of his 1838 marriage to Rose Reine Nathalie Quetier. An August, 1864, document records that their daughter “Mlle. Soury, chez ses père et mère, quai de l'Horloge, 39” married “Patoueille, opticien”. Government records give the name of the Soury daughter as Josephine Marie Nathalie, and her new husband as Eugène Victor Patoueille. Eugene’s family operated a shop at Passage de Panoramas, which specialized in barometers. It being that Patoueille later took over Soury’s shop, he may have worked with his father-in-law after the marriage.

By 1870, the Soury shop had expanded to include both 39 and 41 Quai de l’Horloge. Number 41 was the shop that had been known as “Au Griffon”, which had been occupied by Rochette Jeune.

Eugène Patoueille took over his father-in-law’s shop in 1871. However, Parisian directories occasionally referred to the business as “Soury” (e.g. the 1880 and 1888 editions of Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce). Atget’s 1902 photograph indicates that Soury’s name remained on a front window, so the shop may have been known to customers by various different names.

Eugène Victor Patoueille died in 1886, at the age of 48. The business continued, evidently under direction of his son, Eugène Clement Antoine Patoueille.

The Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce listed the business at 39 Quai de l’Horloge as “Patoueille et Rochette” from 1890 until after 1903. It appears that the name served to evoke past occupant Rochette Jeune.

So, the story of Atget’s 1902 photograph is that the optician’s shop was owned by Eugène Clement Antoine Patoueille, his grandfather’s name is on the window, the banner above the window bears the name of a somewhat well-known predecessor, and Au Griffon had been associated with this address for about 200 years. The Patoueille family had long been established as manufacturers of barometers, so it is probable that the owner in 1902 made the exhibited barometers. Similar techniques are used to make thermometers, so Patoueille may have also made those. It is likely that the microscopes and other such instruments were brought in from other makers.

Following are some pictures of instruments manufactured and/or retailed by occupants of the shops identified by Au Griffon. I have yet to locate anything that carries Souvy’s name.

Figure 2. A telescope, signed "Marie au Griffon", dating from the 1700s. This suggests that the Griffin carving was present at that time. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet sale site.


Figure 3. An advertisement from Etienne Antoine Putois, noting his address as Au Griffon, and that he was successor to "la veuve Marie" (the widow Marie). Adapted from Heyman, 1911.


Figure 4. A surveyor’s level, ca. 1807-1817, signed “Marie Putois, Rochette, Paris”. The case includes a label that reads, “Au Griffon, Quay de l’Horloge du Palais la 3e Boutique cete du Pont-neuf à Paris” (shown as inset). Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet sale site.


Figure 5. Trade label of Rochette Jeune, who was located at “Au Griffon”, Quai de l’Horloge between ca. 1817 and ca. 1845. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from


Figure 6. A graphometer that was made by Rochette Jeune, “Au Griffon”. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet sale site.


Figure 7. A monocular opera glass / peep scope, engraved “Favray, Quai de l’Horloge 79, a Paris”. This building was later renumbered 39. Favray operated his shop in that building between ca. 1801 and ca. 1853. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet sale site.


Figure 8. A pocket sundial, engraved “Favray, Quai de l’Horloge 79”. Although a recent auction advertised this as being from the 1700s (as are frequently others of this style), the address dates it accurately to the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet sale site.


Figure 9. A barometer, signed “Patoueille, Optn, 39 Q de l’Horloge, Paris”. The Patoueille family had manufactured barometers for many years before Eugène Patoueille married into the Soury family, so it is likely that he, or his son, personally made the scientific components of this instrument. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet sale site.



Thank you to Alexandre Piffault and la Zograscope for calling attention to the Marie family’s association with Au Griffon.



Almanach-Bottin du Commerce de Paris (1850) pages 124, 697, and 998

Almanach-Bottin du Commerce de Paris (1854) page 937

Almanach des 25.000 Adresses des Principaux Habitans de Paris (1820) Opticiens et Lunetiers, page 377

Annuaire Géné

Almanach du commerce de Paris (1799) Opticiens, page 238

Almanach du commerce de Paris (1802) Opticiens, page 173

Almanach du commerce de Paris (1811) Opticiens et Lunetiers, page 284

Almanach du commerce de Paris (1812) Opticiens et Lunetiers, page 240

Almanach du commerce de Paris (1813) Opticiens et Lunetiers, pages 283-284

Almanach du commerce de Paris (1817) page 196

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1857) Optique, page 761

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1863) page 527

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1870) page 545

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1871) page 1167

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1875) pages 472, 548, and 1654

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1880) page 1396

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1885) pages 1592 and 2204

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1898) pages 2018 and 2780

Annuaire-Almanach du Commerce (1900) page 2905

Annuaire de l'Union Fraternelle du Commerce et de l'Industrie (1904) page 352

Annuaire du Bâtiment, des Travaux Publics et des Arts Industriels (1903) pages 795 and 1619

Annuaire Général du Commerce (1852) pages 106 and 759

Annuaire Général du Commerce (1853) pages 320, 708, and 841

Annuaire Général du Commerce (1854) pages 332 and 854

Annuaire Général du Commerce (1855) page 4057

Annuaire Général du Commerce (1891) pages 1314 and 1758

Atget, Eugène (ca. 1902) “Au Griffon, 39 Quai de l'Horloge”

Boudin, Henri (1855) “Leydecker, 39, quai de l'Horloge, à Paris. Instruments de physique. Fournisseur des douanes et des contributions indirectes, M. Leydecker a su s'acquérir la confiance de la plupart des administrations publiques. Il construit, à l'usage des sciences, toutes sortes d'instruments de physique et de chimie en verre, tels que baromètres, thermomètres, pese-liqueurs, pèse-sirops, sels, acides, vins, vinaigres, alcoomètres de Gay-Lu.ssac, volumètres et densimètres pour la fabrication du sucre di betierave, chlorometres et alcalimetres Gay-Lussac et de Descroisilles; assortiment de lunettes à lire et de campagne, jumelles de spectacle, boues de mathématiques, compas; tous les instruments pour l'arpentage et tout ce qui a rapport a l'optique. M. Leydecker expose, celte année, un barometre fantaisie, une fontaine de circulation, un baromètre slyle Louis XV, un féculo metre, des aréomètres et des thermomètres de différents modèles, ainsi que divers instruments pour les sciences. Ces produits sont dignes, à tous égards, de ceux qui lui ont valu une médaille de bronze à l'exposition de 1844, et un rappel de médaille en 1849”, page 81

Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie de Toutes les Nations (1855) page 47

Heymann, Mme. A. (1911) Lunettes et Lorgnettes de Jadis, J. Leroy, Paris, page 62

Journal des Débats Politiques et Littéraires (1886) Announcement of the death of Eugene Patoueille

Journal des Mines (1808) “MM. Marie Putois et Rochette, Ingénieurs en instrumens de mathématiques, demeurans quai de l'Horloge à Paris, ont déjà exécuté avec soin et beaucoup de précision, plusieurs des instrumens dont M. Gallois a donné la description dans son Mémoire , et on peut s’adresser à eux pour s'en procurer la collection complète”, Vol. 24, page 168

l’Indicateur des Marriages (1864) Announcement of the marriage of Eugene Victor Patoueille and Josephine Marie Nathalie Soury

Marriage record of Jean Charles Favray (1817) accessed through

Marriage record of Antoine Marie François Soury (1838) accessed through

Marriage record of Charles Pierre Leydecker (1838) accessed through

Marriage record of Julie Sophie Favray (1850) accessed through

Marriage record of Eugene Victor Patoueille and Josephine Marie Nathalie Soury (1864) accessed through

Marriage record of Eugène Clement Antoine Patoueille (1892) accessed through

Perman, Stacy (2013) A Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World's Most Legendary Watch, Simon & Schuster, New York

Rapport du Jury Central (1844) “M. Leydecker, à Paris, quai des Augustins, 55. M. Leydecker a exposé des thermomètres, des baromètres, des aréomètres, qu'il exécute lui-même, à la lampe d'émailleur, avec une rare habileté. A ce talent, si précieux pour la science, il joint beaucoup de zèle et une appréciation très-juste du degré d'exactitude qu'il faut apporter dans ces sortes d'oùvrages. Le jury accorde à M. Leydecker une médaille de bronze”, page 489

Rochette Jeune (1824) Catalogue des Différens Instrumens d'Optique, de Physique, de Mathématiques et de Minéralogie, qui se Fabriquent et se Vendent Chez Rochette Jeune, Successeur de Marie Putois, Quai de l'Horloge (au Griffon), la Troisième Boutique en Entrant par le Pont-Neuf, à Paris

Stenger, Alain (2014) Illustrated Hisotry of the Box Microscope, Stenger, Paris, pages 54-57