La Grosse Caisse from 1889

A fairly unknown toy from 1889.
A man standing on a platform and beats the drum and the cymbals of the rubber band mechanism.

This toy has been given product number 111

From my personel collection

We also know that Martin got his ideas from everywhere.
I saw in an old catalog: La nouvelle revue parisienne from 1894 an advertisement for a shooting game consisting of a rifle and a target, but on top of the target is a figure.
If you hit the target the figure hits the bass drum and the cymbals.

Courtesy François Binetruy, Brocante de l’Orangerie Versailles France

Martin probably noticed this too and 5 years later he made a toy out of it and put it on the market, now with a rubber band mechanism, after winding up, the man hits the bass drum and the cymbals.

Courtesy Bertoia Auctions

The Antiques Centre Amsterdam, the Largest in Holland.

If you ever want to visit Amsterdam, be sure to visit this antique center, it is definitely worth it for toy collectors.

The Antiques Centre Amsterdam is a paradise for the connoisseur of unique objects from all different periods and styles. At a floor space of over 1700 m2 you will find not only a wide and surprising range of 17th, 18th and 19th century antiques and Art Deco, but also art, bric-à-brac, stylish vintage and designs of the fifties, sixties and seventies.

The Antiques Centre Amsterdam is the largest indoor antique market of the Netherlands. We have an enormous selection, provided by 55 specialized antique dealers, who offer a constantly changing and very impressive collection of antique jewellery, splendid lighting, crystal chandeliers, silver, special miniatures, objects the vertu, tableware, military objects, toys, rare ceramics, delicate porcelain, Murano glass, impressive bronze statues, Delft Blue, paintings, wall decorations and even small furniture. And besides all this there are also different display cases with unique and special collector’s items for sale.

Whatever you are looking for, you will find it at the Antiques Centre Amsterdam. Whether it is to decorate your house, a utensil, an original gift, an acquisition for your collection or a striking prop for a photoshoot.

The Antiques Centre Amsterdam is located in the centre of Amsterdam, at the Elandsgracht 109. The Elandsgracht is the gateway to the popular shopping area The Nine Streets.

From the different display cases with unique and special collector’s items are display cases with antique toys. Toys from the well-known toys from manufacturers known to us, including of course Fernand Martin.
The stock changes constantly because the various traders replenish their sold items.

Antiekcentrum Amsterdam
Elandsgracht 109
1016 TT Amsterdam

Tel: +31 (0)20 624 90 38

Monday: 11:00 – 18:00
Tuesday: closed
Wednesday: 11:00 – 18:00
Thursday: 11:00 – 18:00
Friday: 11:00 – 18:00
Saturday: 11:00 – 17:00
Sunday: 11:00 – 17:00

Pictures courtesy :
Barry and Leo van der Waal
Arnaud ter Haak of the Antique Center Amsterdam

Louis Poyet and Fernand Martin

updated version:

In a previous blog from 13 April, I show you a drawing of the Rabbit from Martin, this drawing was made by Louis Poyet.

Louis Poyet (born in Saint-Etienne, 1846 – died in Paris, 1913) was a draftsman, etcher and French illustrator known for his work that he made together with scientists, industrialists and engineers.

Louis Poyet moved to Paris and in 1877 he opened his own print studio.

Advertising from 1886 in the magazine Le Chercheur

His workshop had around 40 craftsmen
He started working for Gaston Tissandier as an Illustrator / writer for the La Nature magazine, for which he continued to work until his death.
He signed with “Poyet” and sometimes “L. Poyet”.

He has made many beautiful etchings for Martin that have been published in, among others, the magazine: La Nature

Here some examples.
Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –

He also worked on several books and magazines so as:

-The book of Charles Masson, published in 1884 entitled: The scientific recreation for education and play.

-The magazine: Le Chercheur from Arthur Good

-Poyet was also one of the industrial illustrators of images for the book series Les Grandes Usines published by Michel Levy from 1876 till 1881.

-In 1889 he worked for Tom Tit (pseudonym of Arthur Good engineer) with which he worked on:
The Recreational Science section in the L’Illustration magazine
The Fun Science a booklet with 100 Experiments, with 115 Drawings in 1890.
This first booklet was again published in 1893 and then followed by two completely new editions.

The success factor of this series was enormous
Translations were sold in 1891 in Spain, England, the United States, Scandinavia, Russia.
There are around 130 different editions of these three volumes, released until the 1920s.

To complete the circle, one of Martin’s toys, the Le “Tom Tit” Martin number 157 (See in the 2014 book: Fernand Martin toymaker in Paris on page 95 ) was based on one of the experiments from Tom Tit; La rotation de la Terre

Below you see on the left the drawing from the book “La Science Amusant” van Tom Tit, this drawing was made by Louis Poyet, on the right an image from a page of a catalog by Fernand Martin

After the death of Louis Poyet in 1913 his studio was taken over by his sons Roger in Raphael, under the name “Poyet Brothers”.

Victor Bonnet pistols 2: Flac

Victor Bonnet produced various tin pistols in the period from 1919 to 1933.
The number we know now is 8 pieces but maybe we will discover more.
the list of the pistols known so far is:

The Victor Bonnet list with pistol models with article numbers
Le Pan-Pan 247
Flac 256
Bombarde 257
Le Pétard 258
Tape_Fort 262
Le Sans-Balle 264
Le Costaud 266
Le Corsaire 269 ??

Here we present :

Name: Flac
Number: 256
Year of first production: 1927
Dimensions: 8,5 cm x 7 cm / 3,35 inch x 2,76 inch

Catalog picture

Victor Bonnet pistols 1: Le Pan-Pan

Victor Bonnet produced various tin pistols in the period from 1919 to 1933.
The number we know now is 8 pieces but maybe we will discover more.
The list of the pistols known so far is:

The Victor Bonnet list with pistol models with article numbers
Le Pan-Pan 247
Flac 256
Bombarde 257
Le Pétard 258
Tape_Fort 262
Le Sans-Balle 264
Le Costaud 266
Le Corsaire 269 ??

Here we present :

Name: Le Pan pan
Number: 247
Year of first production: 1919
Dimensions: 11,5 cm x 9 cm / 4,5 inch x 3,5 inch

catalog image
The inside
This model is also produced in a different color box
A store sale box, packed by the dozen, picture courtesy E.T.

Le facteur de Chemin de fer from 1894

This toy is a platform employee of a train station and dated from 1894.
In the books known to us, this toy has the Martin product number 48, but the latest discoveries show that there are two models and that they are numbered 123 and 124.

This person was responsible for transporting passengers suitcases, luggage and packages to and from the trains.

Courtesy Bertoia Auctions (in front you see the round FM logo)

These two versions are different, there is one version with a flywheel drive and another with a mechanical wind-up drive. These two different versions are clearly distinguishable. The version with flywheel has one tin case for the cart, in this case the flywheel is hidden.

These two different versions can be clearly distinguished.
The version with a flywheel has one tin case for the cart, in this case is hidden the flywheel.

Courtesy Bertoia auctions – model with flywheel

The version with the mechanical drive is relatively unknown, I only discovered one copy in the collection of the French museum Musée des arts and Métiers – Le cnam.
The version with the winding mechanism is presumably provided with two paper-wrapped packages. (see the pictures in this museum)

As the photos of the museum contain a copyright, I cannot show it here, but a digital visit to the site is worth looking at, see this link:
enter the keyword “Fernand Martin” at “rechercher“.
The photos you can find at the numbers 0000558_052 up to and including 0000558_056 and at the numbers 0001664-045 and 0000558-174

On the drawing below and on the photos of the museum you can see that a different model key has been used here, this is one of the deviations from the keys known to us that Martin normally used.

Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts – magazine La Nature 1894 page 87)
Image in the catalog from 1898

On this catalog page the drawing is of the version with mechanism and if you look closely you can see at the bottom left of the drawing:
Number 123 — avec volant . (Translated: with flywheel)
Number 124 — mechanique. (Translated: with Mechanism)

A super rare toy.

Martin toys on YouTube

On YouTube, Mr. Jean Brun from France has made 5 beautiful videos about Fernand Martin toys and his successors.
The lyrics are in French but the video’s are still beautiful to look at.
These videos can be viewed below.

These 5 video’s together are almost 80 min, so take your time, to make them that must have been a lot of work and time.

These YouTube videos are also listed separately in my menu under: “FIND ARTICLE“, the search page for specific articles; chapter 6 – Movies, I have had these videos in my “FIND ARTICLE” menu page for several weeks now, but now I bring them to your attention so that you can see and enjoy them.

Le Petit Patineur / The skater boy

first production date : 1912
production number: 229
height: 20 cm / 7,87 inch produced by Georges Flersheim

I have never seen a box with a label myself, but in the book: Fernand Martin Toy Maker in Paris 1878-1912 by Lourens Bas and Arthur Verdoorn, a label is depicted on page 188

Courtesy: Spielmuseum Soltau Germany
Image from an article in the: Le Petit Journal January 01 – 1914

This street scene is of course also seen by toy manufacturers and like so many street scenes there was an ingenious inventor who designed a toy out of it.
I found an article in the magazine La Nature from 1911 with a description and picture of a “Le Petit Patineur” that looks very much like the Flersheim version.

The original inventor of this toy is Mr. Boucheron, 4, rue de l’Eglise, in Vitry-sur-Seine . Source picture : (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts – magazine La Nature 1911

Part of the patent applied by Georges Flersheim
Another part of the patent applied by Georges Flersheim

Result Bertoia ANNUAL SPRING auction Friday, March 24- 2023

Highlighted by the Phil & Joan Steel collection including Martins & Lehmanns, automatons, penny toys, lucxury autos & race cars from the Bill Gelles racing Collection, early table games, trains & airplanes, and more!

In this auction there are this time a lot of Martin, Flersheim and Bonnet toys and some are very rare but of course there are many more beautiful and interesting toys in this auction.

The Bertoia team is dedicated to offering our quality customer service, experience and support.
Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance with registration, bidding or any other questions.

For the complete overview, Auction terms & Info, Shipping & Payment look at this site:

These result prices are in US $ and without Buyer’s Premium and subject to errors.
Always check the auction site for the results.

Regarding the objects described in this article, I do not make a statement about condition or value.
I advise interested collectors always do to research yourself, to view the object or to contact the seller / auction

The first Martin toy: The real swimming fish

Martin started in 1875 with his first attempts to make toys but in 1878 the first real toy was a real swimming fish.

This Fish is about 19 cm / 7,5 inc long.

Courtesy: Toy Museum in Soltau Germany

In the early days Martin used a rubber band (elastic) as the drive.
By turning it on, the toy started to move.
The system consists mainly of a crank, a rubber band and a movement mechanism.
The drive mechanism was adjusted for each toy, such as up and down, right, left, spinning etc.

The first piece of Martin: the fish from 1878 Poisson Nageur and as you see Martin started with the product number 100

Page from the Catalog 1898 (from my personal collection)
Drawing Source La Nature : (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –

The crank is in the nose, inside the fish is the rubber band and the mechanism is on the tail.

Parts: between the both hooks coms the rubber band, see below
This demo model is made with an original crank and the mechanism with the tail.

In this demo model you can see clearly the mechanism in operation,
By turning the crank and hold the tail, the rubber band is tightened (twisted)
The other side of the rubber band is hooked onto the movement mechanism, the tail.
When you release the tail again, the tail swings from right to left so that the illusion of swimming is simulated.
Simple but effective.

The only drawback is that the rubber band can age and then break quickly.
If it breaks, the hook and mechanism will fall off and mostly get lost.

Martin sold the patent for a swimming fish with a rubber band engine to the Englisch company Cremer Dolls Toys Games 210 Regent street London and that was the beginning of his fortune, he started in 1880 his first factory.

Courtesy: Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett

Le Petite Pianiste

Martin number: 189

First production in 1902

Dimensions: 13.5 X 15.5 cm / 5,3 inch 6,1 inch

A very nice toy with movement and music. After winding up, the pianist moves his hands from left to right over the keyboard and a piece of music sounds. Even our grandchildren can watch and listen with pleasure to this special piece of history.

This Le Petite Pianiste won a prize in 1901 during the first major Concours Lepine in Paris, during this competition Fernand Martin bought the rights from the inventor Mr. Bosquet, Martin then produced it himself and sales started in 1902. 

Source: BNF Gallica Bulletin des lois de la République Française January 01-1903
Picture from the original 1908 catalog

From the Le Petite  Pianiste are two versions that do not differ on the outside, the difference is in the melody, one for the French-speaking market and one for the English-speaking market.  

French song: J’ai du bon tabac

Englisch song: God save the King

There is also a very rare version known, the pianist is a woman, I have seen one on the internet, it was part of an collection of an American collector, and the second known was owned by a friend of mine and is currently on display in the toy museum in Germany in the city ​​of Soltau. Even if this version is not an original, it turned out very well.

Courtesy “Spielzeugmuseum” Soltau Germany

We see Le petit pianiste with and without hair, it could be that in the later years the competition with the German toy import became too high and cutbacks had to be made, on many toys were cut backs like cheaper material, fewer handling in the production, fewer parts and presumably the wig disappeared from this pianist.

The cuts were not big, but you can also see that with the labels on the boxes, they became smaller, which is a very small cut, but given the very large production, it was ultimately a big cut. less storage, less paper and less glue.

assembling the piano

Both pictures from: The English illustrated magazin dec. 1905

applying the hair to the pianist
Inside vieuw, picture from the magazine Femina december 12- 1902

At the time, this pianist was already a lot more expensive than other Martin toys, this had to do with the very complex mechanism, which meant that not only the material costs, but especially the labor costs, were a lot higher. But when I see how many are left, he must have sold well.

look at the prices. Magazine : Revue des Nouveautés January 1910

The Bell Ringer as two differend toys !

This article was posted in 2019 but because of new facts, the article has now been edited.

In 1885, Fernand Martin made a bell ringer, Martin number 102, and calling him “Le Sonneur Endiable”, in older Fernand Martin books you see number 14 but that number is wrong and and given without proof by the writers.

On this original catalog page you see number 102 in the left corner.

It is one of the first Martin toy with a lot fun.

But the Georges Flersheim factory took it more then almost 35 years later and re-released it with a few changes.

They renamed him “Je Sonne La Paix” and it got number 246
The “Je Sonne La Paix” is in English: “I ring [for] the peace“, in other words “I ring [to celebrate] the peace” referring the celebration of the end of the WW1 on November 11- 1918, in which Flersheim himself fought and died.

Picture thanks to E.T. On the box label you see number 246

If you look quickly, you see almost no differences but they are indeed there.

Left the number 102 and on the right site the number 246

Here the differences in detail:

-the Martin version (102) has the FM name stamped on top of the base plate in the Flersheim version (246) no text is stamped on top of this base, but there is a piece of fabric on the side with the name “Je Sonne La Paix” printed on it.

-If you look at both toys at the bottom, you see, under the male figure at the Martin (102) , an elongated piece of iron mounted as a weight and at the Flersheim (246) a solid plate is soldered and stamped the round FM logo on it.

-The Martin version (102) has a rubber band drive, that of Flersheim (246) a long spiral spring in the pole.

-At the top there is a French flag at the Flersheim (246), for this a hollow pipe has been placed in the roof for the iron flagpole with a fabric French flag.

-The bell has also been given a slightly slender shape by Georges Flersheim.

-The roof off number 102 is found with different reliefs, one just like the roof of the 246 in red with tiles and found with stipes in a yellow/gold paint.

It is currently the last piece that is still numbered in the Flersheim period.
It is certain that after the death of Georges Flersheim more, till now, unknown toys were produced, time will tell which and how much.

It is strange that the number 246 has been used twice.
Under this number by Victor Bonnet in 1919, his first produced toy is also numbered 246, it is the “Le Auto Transport” WHY???

The images / pictures used are with courtesy of Michael Bertoia, E.T. and from the own collection



The Mr. Boucheron version

There are three versions of this toy made by the Fernand Martin factory.
When the key is wound, the cart will go “backward” and the boy’s legs will move as if he were pushing the cart backward himself.

Dimension: length 20 cm / 7.8 inches.
Martin production number 218

It started with the version made by Mr. Boucheron This invention was exhibited on the “Lepine Concours” in 1909 and on this show Martin bought the rights and started to make it a salable version and that resulted in this version:

First Fernand Martin version 1910

Martin patented this toy in 1910

Part of the patent
Draft drawing belonging to the patent number 421.899

Not long after, Fernand Martin sold his factory to Georges Flersheim, who continued to produce some of the old toys, but often with some adjustments, other colors, etc.
Below the performance produced by Georges Flersheim.
The biggest difference is in the design of the closed wheels and the part with the fruit is not so well detailed anymore and of course also the Flersheim key.
Fernand Martin has released various colors of this toy and George Flersheim has also produced a number of color versions.

Georges Flersheim 1912

And then there is also a very special version with a case instead of the fruit, this version is very rare and it is not yet clear whether Martin or Flersheim produced it.
It is possible that this special version was produced on behalf of a customer, on this suitcase you can recognize a label of the large Parisian hotel “Grand Hotel”
This suitcase can also be seen on a special version of the Le Petit Livreur.

The wheels of the Martin model but the key of Flersheim, presumably 1912 (picture courtesy ET)

Small sale barracks and New Year’s Eve in Paris

Source / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Fernand Martin’s toys were often sold by street vendors and vendors in market stalls on the Paris promenades at the end of the year at Christmas and New Years, but life was hard for these vendors and during the bad weather of that year, practically earned nothing. Read this newspaper article.

Magazine: La Fonde December 1901

Poor street vendors! how sadly they spent the Christmas night that had not turned out to be what they had been waiting for weeks. The long faces, the dull eyes, they watch the rain fall slowly on the asphalt of the sidewalks, driving away the few little walkers. He cries in my heart when it rains on the city, they could have repeated with “Verlaine” (a French poet). Sales were indeed not very fruitful, the day was desperately gloomy yesterday and the evening was hardly more lively. So much effort, energy, patience and ingenuity that these brave people put into this traditional sale for months.

Picture from the magazine L’illustration Noël 27-Dec. 1902 (Magazine in my collection)

The toy competition organized by Mr Lépine had given the small manufacturers some hope; the public seemed to be interested in these humble inventors, and there was every reason to think that Christmas Eve would be a happy one, bringing a little joy and well-being to the households of the cheap-clothed toymakers. The more than gloomy weather has spoiled all these beautiful hopes, and we must hear the grievances of these poor devils who have made great sacrifices of themselves to promote these people. Small barracks, ugly and clumsy, but part of the old Parisian traditions. “But you managed to make some profit the day before yesterday,” I said to a tall, pale woman, who cast a sad look at the gaudy colored dolls lined up on the edge of her sales bench. “No ma’am. Although the weather was beautiful, and a really big crowd on the boulevard earlier in the evening, it was not the day of shopping. – What do you mean? – I mean by this: The custom is that on Christmas Eve we buy our presents, the day before we will only look, we make our choice, we compare the prices of the toys, but then don’t buy it yet. And lady, the hour of the sale may have come, when the weather is as bad as tonight, you understand that customers are in no rush to visit our stores. “Oh shit, we always think we’re going to make some money and instead we go home with more debt.” It is very unfortunate that instead of this ugly sad rain we did not have a nice evening, cold but very dry. Everyone would have benefited from it: the rich in gaiety, the poor in large pennies. Perhaps the stalls on New Year’s Day had never been so stocked with new and varied trinkets. Several toys had been exhibited in previous toy competitions. But then most were just more or less rough-edged models, here they are fresh and finished in their beautiful bright colors. It is the Santos-Dumont that doubles the platforms of the Eiffel Tower, it is the fighting

Courtesy Bertoia Auctionhous

Boer ( Le vaillant Boer Martin number 174-176 ? ) in question, who is so ingenious in its simplicity, the latest locomotive,

Courtesy Toymuseum in Soltau Germany

the automatic city police, ( Les agents Martin number 178).
It is the Englishman fighting an invisible enemy

Courtesy Bertoia Auctionhous

(Le Gentleman Khaki Martin number 175)
That still others must be mentioned among the mechanical toys. The few shoppers are told what’s new, they ask about the toys seen in the competition; For example, last night an old lady insisted that a merchant tell her where “Le Singe a la marmite” the monkey in the pot, by Frémiet, was sold.

Source Le Figaro 24 November 1901

—”It’s for my grandson,” she said, “he will enjoy it very much.”  

— In vain, the shopkeeper offered her the most recent creations of articulated toys. The grandmother persisted. – No, no, it’s “the monkey in the pot” I want, I promised to bring it… “But I tell you I don’t have it,” replied the merchant angrily. Do you know that in order to produce this toy well it would have to be sold very dearly and then not for 2 fr. 95 which we could ask for like for all these dolls. And then, I don’t really want to say it, but this famous monkey is not that beautiful and to amuse children, there is still nothing like these old dolls… I had to smile at this naive joke which failed to convince the grandmother, for I saw her resume her pilgrimage in the rain past the little huts, dimly lit by the dim lights and quivering from the smoky oil lamps. I imitate her and continue my traditional visit to these varied displays, some of which are arranged with taste. Among the toys I find old acquaintances:

My collection

the goose that wobbles when he nods his head, ( L’oie Martin number 169)

My collection

the laundress who puts her arms in her bathtub,(La Blanchisseuse Martin number 171)

Courtesy Toymuseum in Soltau Germany

the mower that rhythmically shakes its small scythe (le Faucheur Martin number 170)

Street vendors who can’t afford to “stand on the boardwalk” send swarms of articulate beasts running down the muddy sidewalks: ladybugs, lizards, frogs, cockchafers, seals, it’s as if someone just knocked over Noah’s ark. There’s something for everyone, for all budgets, from the modest two-cent piece to the two-franc piece. Huddled under the porches or shrunk behind the canopies of the shops, the poor devils make a terrible noise to attract the attention of buyers, while looking out for the city police, the “police” as they call them in their own picturesque language. — Ask for the Christmas Angel — The latest novelty of the year. “What doesn’t this Christmas present have?” It’s deafening. And the raging wind violently shakes the huts and blows an icy rain in the faces of the few passers-by. Soon the boulevards are deserted and gloomy. The cafe terraces are empty and it is raining. It’s New Year’s Eve. Groups of night owls trying to be merry still roam as they sing choruses of café music, and as the gusts double their violence, a few revelers are still eating their dinner on New Year’s Eve. – We’re not eating now, I had to say to an old lady yesterday, we were bickering. “Oh! I should be ashamed, she moaned, if, despite my age, I had a stomach as weak as the one my daughter’s friends complain about. And in this connection I remembered the funny song “New Year’s Eve in two parts”, from Charles Monselet, – ( a French journalist, novelist, poet and playwright, nicknamed “the king of the gastronomes”) – But it doesn’t matter, it took hard vices to sustain this earthly lavishness.


I wish all the visitors of my blog a:

Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein glückliches Neues Jahr
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo
Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo
Kala Christougenna Ki’eftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos
God Jul och Gott Nytt År
Glædelig Jul og godt nytår
Geseende Kerfees en ’n gelukkige nuwe jaar
Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta

The inventor of the L’Autopatte

We all know that Martin was not the inventor of all his toys himself.
Many of his toys were invented by small toy makers who took their inventions to the annual “Concours de Lépine” a competition in Paris to present and hopefully sell their inventions.
One of these inventors was Mr Boucheron from whom Martin has bought several inventions.
One of these inventions was the L’Autopatte.
On the box and the catalogue page of this Martin toy you can see that it won a “Grand Prix” price on the “Concours Lépine”.
In the magazine “La Nature” from 1909 page 204 a small article of this invention was described the L’auto-pattes

Catalogue Page

The translated description is as follows:

A production by M. Boucheron that solves wishes.
The L’ Autopatte is a motor vehicle a african boy sits in front of the person falling to the ground that is propelled in circular long durations.
The mechanism is simple.
A lever that performs the functions of the femur is placed in the extended mechanism where it is received in an arc.
A cam enhances this lever to move up and down.
Finally, each leg carries a lever.
The knee joints are more than primary.
The legs hang at the end of the knees.
But when the toy is walking, the controlled bars go up one by one, and the legs take the vertical position by their own weight, and when they are lowered, the legs touch the ground.
As the toy rolls, these feet stay on the ground for a short time and lengthen to return vertically to the next move.
Because this steering is alternate, the feet land on the ground one by one and the africa boy feels in fact he is actually responsible for the propulsion of the vehicle with his feet in reverse. –

Mr. Boucheron lived on the rue Rachel, in Vitry-sur-Seine.

In January 2023 a blog with more about this nice toy

Le Cab (The Hansom Cab)

Three “different” versions of the “Le Cab” were made in the period between 1889 and 1919.

These vehicles were the means of transport in the city in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they were actually the first taxis


Fernand Martin launched his first version of the Le Cab in 1889, the differences with the later version from 1903 and 1912 can be recognized by the following points:
The 1889 version compared to the 1903 and 1912 models:
-The carriage had no passenger section. (it’s closed on the front)
-The wheels have 8 spokes, (the 1903 and 1912 versions have 10 spokes)
-Closed-side windows. (Only painted windows in red)
-Driven by a flywheel mechanism.
-This edition has 35 metal separate parts, (that is what you can count on the drawing), to build and complete the hole toy.
That did not include the rein so actually 36 parts in total.

This first version of the Le Cab is very very rare and hard to find, so far I only know a few copies :
–1 in the collection of the Parisian museum: Musée des arts et Métiers this one was part of the gift from Fernand Martin to the museum in 1908.
–1 sold a few years ago at the French dealer l’Orangerie – François Binetruy, this one also came with an original box.
–1 auctioned in 2019 in France
–1 copy in my own collection.
But there will probably still be some other copies in museums or collections over the world.

The Le Cab from 1889 in parts.

Below you see an original box label and an image from the original catalog.
If you look very closely you will see differences between the box label and the catalog image.
1- The four corners of the box label are not richly decorated.
2- Below the triangle with number 138 are on the box label data of various gold medals that Martin has won.
3- the “instructions” are different in width and the number of lines is different, on the box label the lines are wider then on the catalog image.
4- Below the legs of the horse the text “Made In France” appears on the catalog image and not on the box label.
5- On the right and left of the FM logo are small decorations on the box label.

Photo courtesy of l’Orangerie – François Binetruy
Page from the 1908 catalog from my own collection

There is one known copy complete with box, so very rare.
This box is numbered with number 110
On the inside of the passenger seat there is the imprint of the Fernand Martin factory

mirror image text seen from the outside
Legible text seen from the inside
Photo courtesy of l’Orangerie – François Binetruy


In 1903 Martin released this same toy again in a slightly modified version, now with a passenger section and also open side windows, a clockwork drive and a complete new box label.
It got number 192.

Photo courtesy of Bertoia auctions
from my own collection; left the 1889 version, middle the 1903 version, right the 1912 George Flersheim version

The coach of this 1903 version came in the black / red color combination.
The drive was now a wind-up mechanism and with the recognizable Martin key.
This toy was marked on the inside of the passenger section and on the backsite above the key .


In the Flersheim period from 1912, the Le Cab was re-released, the version was almost the same as the Martin version from 1903 and the Martin number remained the same with 192.
This version is only marked on the roof with the well nown triangel marker. This version also had a wind-up mechanism but now with a Martin or Flersheim key.
It was sold in multiple colors.

I have come across this Flersheim version with the coach, so far, in the following colors
Lower part of the sides – Upper part of the sides – the top of the roof.
-Brown – brown – brown.
-Blue – black – black.
-Green – green – green.
-Blue – blue – black.

2 images from my own collection (brown en bleu one), 1 from a private collection (green one and 1 image ( black/bleu one) with courtesy of Bertoia auctions

What is also striking in this version and recognizable as Flersheim is that with all Flersheim models I have seen, the fixing tabs for fixing the back, are facing backwards.
With the Martin version, these tabs are always facing inwards.

Left the Martin version ——————–Right the Flersheim versions

Yet another deviation is that for the toys of which the carriage is completely colored, (the green and light brown version) the colors appear to be “sprayed”, but that they were only sprayed after the carriage was already partially assembled.
If you look closely at the carriage, you will find color residues on the drive section, the rods to the horse, but only on the inside at the location of the wind-up mechanism, the key and also on the inside of the rear lower protruding ornament parts.

The same horse was used many years by Martin, Flersheim and Victor Bonnet for divers toys: from 1890 the Don Quichotte, the horse with a cover
number 110 Le Cab version with fly wheel made by Fernand Martin in 1889
number 122 Le Courrier Parisien made by Fernand Martin in 1892
number 192 Le Cab version with a wind-up mechanism made by Fernand Martin in 1903
number 192 Le Cab version with a wind-up mechanism made by George Flersheim in 1912
number 194 de La Voiture A Bitume made by Fernand Martin in 1906
number 203 de Le Laboureur made by Fernand Martin in 1906
number 255 La Charrette Paysanne made by Victor Bonnet in 1927

Change of Martin numbers for some toys.

In the Martin books known to us, a few figures are included with, as it turns out, the wrong number.
Here are the adjustments, after these adjustments, there are still a few toys without a number.

This blog is made with help of Bruno Cirla and Christophe Feraud from Massilia Toys in Marseille, my big thanks for this


Number 174 and 176
The numbers 174 and 176 have probably been swapped because evidence has been found that the Le Balayeur has number 174:
174 old number Le Vaillant Boer must be new Le Balayeur
176 old number Le Balayeur must be new Le Vailant Boer

Courtesy Massilia toys

In the Martin literature and books number 180 is given to The Policemen but it turns out number 180 is for the toy: “Present arms” God save the king.

number 180 “Present arms”, God save the King is an sentinel (probably only for the English market including the, in that time, colony of Canada, on the catalog picture there is extra text that has a link to Londen, see below on the picture the text: C&E LONDON

Present arms God save the King. Courtesy Bertoia auctions
Courtesy Massilia toys
Box label

We see that number 180 was been given to The Policemen, (Bobby) made for the Englisch market, but The Policemen must have number 181.

Courtesy Massilia toys

But in the Martin literature and the books number 181 has been given to the Garçon de cafè, what number the Garçon de cafè should now have is not yet clear.

In the Martin books number 182 is given to the postman: Le télégraphiste but it turns out that number 182 is for The Sentinel, what number the postman will get is not yet known.

The Englisch: The Sentinel 182 Courtesy Spielmuseum Soltau Germany
Courtesy Massilia toys

number 182 The Sentinel (probably only for the English market including the, in that time, colony of Canada) see the picture of the figure with the bear hat below.

number 183 La Sentinelle (a series of presumably 3 soldier figures: French – Russian – and Italian) These 3 Sentinelles are mentioned in Martin’s gift to the Musée des arts et métiers Paris in 1908.

Courtesy Massilia toys
Courtesy Spiel Museum Soltau Germany


Changes in the book: FERNAND MARTIN toymaker in Paris 1878-1912

174 Le Balayeur.
176 Le Vaillant Boer.
180 “Present arms” God save the king.
181 The Policemen (Englisch market)
The waiter: Le Garçon de cafe NO NUMBER UNTIL NOW.
182 The Sentinel (Englisch market)
The Postman: Le télégraphiste NO NUMBER UNTIL NOW.
183 La Sentinelle 3 soldiers French- Russian and Italian

My question to the readers:

Now I am looking for other missing numbers
If there is someone who can give me one or more of these missing or the correct numbers, I would be very happy, and if you can help me, mail me: .
It’s about:
The right number for the Soldat French – English – Belgian – Russian – Portuguese, These numbers are available: 235-236-239-242-243-244-245

Courtesy Bertoia auctions

The postman: Le télégraphiste, WHAT IS HIS NUMBER??

Courtesy Bertoia auctions

The waiter, Le Garçon de cafè, WHAT IS HIS NUMBER??

My latest rare Martin acquisition from 1889

A few weeks ago I was able to add another rare Martin to my collection.
It is a Martin from the first period and is from the year 1889
Martin started in 1878 so this is a fairly early copy
He later released this model again in 1903 in a modified version and later after 1912 Flersheim also put this model on the market again.
This first 1889 version is the Le Cap with product number 110

So far I know the existence of 4 of these rare versions from 1889

In the book Fernand Martin Toymakers in Paris 1878-1912 by Lourens Bas he is depicted on pages 52 and 53 with the number 25 assigned by the authors, later research shows that the correct number must be 110.
Martin started with product number 100 see my blog :
The aforementioned book contains two photographs from the collection of the Parisian museum: Musée des arts et Métiers.
One of these photos is an exploded version of the second version from 1903 and the photo on page 53 is the old version from 1889.

Soon I will publish an extensive blog about the various Le Cap versions with all their differences.

See what you can read in the November issue of the Antique Toy World Magazine:

Don’t miss the November 2022 issue of the Antique Toy World Magazine

An overview of the contents of the new Antique Toy World Magazine November 2022 :

Antique Toy World is the leading publication for toy collectors worldwide.

Published since 1970.
Antique Toy World is a monthly magazine published in the USA by Dale Kelley, the magazine’s founder, editor and publisher.

To subscribe go to

Les-Auto-Transports a series of beautiful trucks and tractors made by Victor Bonnet.

I also published this article in the: Antique Toy World issue September 2022

As a successor of Fernand Martin and George Flersheim, Victor Bonnet Factory started the production in 1919 in the old Fernand Martin factory, in 1933 they stopped the production and moved to another building in Paris.

In these 14 years Victor Bonnet has made a series of 5 beautiful trucks and tractors.  

246 Le Déverseur
248 Tracteur + 250 Le Remorque (sold together)
249 Camion : Le Roulant
254 Le Train Tortillard
261 Camion : Gros Camionnage

He named this family of vehicles: Les-Auto-Transports

At Victor Bonnet someone came up with a family of products with standard building blocks that could be reused within the “Les Auto-Transports” family, which can already be clearly seen on the fronts of the five various trucks and tractors.

All models had a plaque on the hood with the name: Les auto-transports
This plaque has undergone some changes over the years as can be seen in the collage.

These models are somewhat undervalued, they are all vehicles with a genius mechanism and these mechanisms are all basically the same. 

At the front of all five models is a handle with which you can drive the car in a straight line or in circles.

The first of the model Le Déverseur with number 246 produced from 1919 had the most extensive mechanism with lot of functions: start-stop, drive, standstill and a side-tilt function. The models after this one were a bit simpler.  

246 Le Déverseur

Victor Bonnet was the first successor to Fernand Martin who started producing cars
He released a series of trucks and started with number 246
It was a “tip up truck”, the truck has an automatic tipping and driving mechanism.

This model was released in various colors, I have seen models in Yellow, green, gray, black and brown
The length is about 20 cm (7.9 Inches)

These models have a very advanced and ingenious engine, the start-stop part sits like a handle next to the driver’s steering wheel.
After winding, you can put the car on the ground and push the handle back a bit, then it will drive, after a short time, the car will stop and the bucket will slowly move to the side to drop its load, then the bucket will go back to the old position and the car starts moving again and everything repeats itself.

Part of the Germany patent from April 21, 1921, patent number 363805

In the production years, the box has been changed a few times.
The first boxes only contain the production number No 246
Boxes are known to have a sticker added with the text Déverseur No 246
Later the label came with the text Déverseur No 246 printed as fixed on the label
And I found boxes with the text Le Déverseur No 246

The next two boxes has the same picture of the catalog site on the front, these catalog pictures usually had less information than the original box labels, are they original??
I’ve come across some of those boxes before.

Two different boxen with the same “catalog” image, forgeries?
Catalog image
Box label, (see the differences with the catalog image)

On the inside on the bottom of the box an extra text sheet could have been applied to indicate the operation, this is found in two languages; in French and in English.
The text on the outside of the box is only found in French, also on the boxes with an English text sheet inside.

There are boxes contained with no text sheet inside but a separate manual with the (freely translated) text:
Reassembly… Put the Engine to Stop and turn; with the key to the right, making it make 10 half-turns.
Starting… Push forward the Crank which is to the left of the driver.
Stop… Bring the Crank to the rear which is to the left of the driver.
Direction … Bring, by pressure from top to bottom, the Joystick located at the front of the Hood, in one of the 3 notches. The walk in a circle is obtained by using the 2 notches on the left.

There are models without a text, models with a text on the side or back and models with a text in the inside of the loadig area, and when they have a text it was in French or in English
The various texts I found till now are:

top left and below courtesy of Bertoina Auctions, top right courtesy of Antico Mondo Auctions.
left and right below Courtesy of Bertoina Auctions. on the top right private collection
When there was a text In the loading area, there was no texts on the side or back, so only in the loading area

The body has also been available in two variants, with an angular body and with a rounder body, the truck with the rounder body (I found them in de colors gray, black/gray and yellow), and has no texts on the body, only the brass plate on the bonnet.

left Courtesy of Bertoina Auctions. on the right private collection

From this version with the rounder body, I found another one with a different nose/bonnet in the color: red body with a bleu loading area. That one has the nose/bonnet from trucks from the production after 1933 and on top of this nose/bonnet there is no longer the well-known brass nameplate.

So you can see that over the years this truck has had many different varieties.
Many Fernand Martin, George Flersheim and Victor Bonnet toys have sometimes been produced for many many years and have received many small adjustments or other colors over the years.

248 Tracteur and 250 Le Remorque

These two Victor Bonnet creations of a tractor and a trailer, were sold together in one box, I have not found any proof anywhere that they were sold separately.

Box label
Catalog picture
the total length of approximately 36 cm / 14,2 “.

I have come across the tractor/truck in two colors so far, in green and in red, (green and red in various color gradations from dark to light, but presumably the influence of sunlight has also had an influence on the color), and there are two different rear wheel placement options, one in a short base and one in a long base.

Because I rarely come across this short wheelbase, I suspect that this short wheelbase was only used in the early period and was later replaced by the long wheelbase, this long wheelbase also had a simpler winding motor and was also used with the “Le Train Tortillard”, this naturally resulted in cost savings.

What has been noticed is that there are two versions of the tractor, with and without a roof.
Presumably it was marketed in two versions with and without a roof, which is apparent from the fact that the tractor can be found with and without mounting holes for the roof, (see the photos).

with mounting holes for the two roof supports
without mounting holes for the roof supports
Two differend trailers the left one is the most common, the right one is quite rare, this trailers I only encountered in a brown/yellow color with a green fabric tarpaulin.

Look at the two different trailers, sometimes the trailer has a bronze plate on the back with the text: Charge maximum 5000Kos and the back and front of the trailer has different plating, version with a 6 and with a 4 rectangular layout

The bottom from the long base model with the winding motor and the start stop mechanism
The bottom from the short base model with the winding motor and the start stop mechanism

249 Le Roulant

This model is very very rare.
I’ve only come across a few of them.

Catalog picture

The colors I have found so far are green, orange/brown, yellow all with red wheels and a dark blue one with bleu wheels, the length is about 25 cm (10 Inches)

It is listed in the Victor Bonnet catalog with the name Camion 249 but in the truck you can see that the name is : Le Roulant

steering wheel and on the right side the start stop lever

The characteristic of this model is that there is a print on the bottom of the cargo area with the name and product number.

text on the inside of the transport section
On the back of the cabin a text plate with the text: Charge maximum load 5000 Kos

A similar model was later released with number 261 with the same name Camion to, but on that truck you can see the name Gros Camionnage written on the fabric tarpaulin.
This Camion is an adapted form of the here presented “Le Roulant” number 249, the later model number 261 has a fabric tarpaulin, no longer had a print on the bottom of the transport section and no text plate on the back of the cabin.
This model 261 will be found even more.

The model 261 Gros Camionnage without the fabric tarpaulin is sometimes be sold as a: Le Roulant, but can therefore be easily recognized by a print on the bottom of the cargo area and on the back of the cabin a brass text plate with the text: Charge maximum load 5000 Kos of the original Le Roulant, so pay attention.

Winding mechanism with the key and the start stop part on the right, the lever for this is next to the driver

254 Le Train Tortillard

Catalog picture
Was also sold in Egypt

This tractor with four trailers has a total length of approximately 69 cm / 27,2 “.
On the accompanying photos you can see the differences between the four trailers.
The first trailer has a different, tin plate attachment than the other cars, which all have a bent iron wire as attachment.

Top left, trailer with the tinplate attachment — top right, an empty trailer with a different mounting hook as the left trailer –bottem left, with a wooden barrel –bottom right, with an inlay representing coal

I found till now the tractor in two colors in red and green, the trailers I found in the colors blue, green, brown/orange, gray and dark-gray. I have come across it quite often and sometimes even “mint” in the box but what strikes me is that very often the carts are not all the same color, maybe the carts have gotten mixed up over the years or they are just new delivered in the box with different color carts.

261 Camion: Gros Camionnage

The “Camion” (no. 261), it was the last truck from the series Les-Auto-Transports.  

It is an open truck with a fabric tarpaulin and the length is about 25 cm (10 Inches)

A text was printed on both sides of the fabric tarpaulin, the text is original: “Gros Camionnage” that you can find on the box, there are models with another name.

I have come across this truck in the colors BLEU, RED and YELLOW, the fabric hood in the colors GREEN, BLEU, BROWN and GREY

Catalog Picture

This truck was a modified version of truck number 249 with the same name Camion, (see “Le Roulant”).
In the base the “Le Roulant” with number 249 was given a fabric tarpaulin with text, the “brand” stamp on the bottom of the cargo area has disappeared, the text plate on the back of the cabin disappeared and it get a text on the fabric tarpaulin “Gros Camionnage”.

Box Label

Versions of this truck are known with various advertising texts.

This truck was sold with text on the fabric tarpaulin on both sides.

The text is original: “Gros Camionnage” that you can find on the box labels and in the catalog

I found some models with a different text.

In 2021 I found in an auction in France of Maître Philippe CASAL another “Camion” model in a rare color scheme, and also with a different text “Chocolat Casino” on the fabric tarpaulin.

“Chocolat Casino”

In February 2018 I found on Ebay another model, the nice thing about this Camion was not only the beautiful condition, but also the print on the fabric tarpaulin: “Goulet-Turpin”.
The Internet teaches us that this is the name of the Goulet-Turpin couple who founded a distribution company under this name in their wedding year 1874.


In the collection of the German “Spielmuseum Soltau” is another one to find with the text “Nouvelles Galeries”.

” Nouvelles Galeries”

“Les Nouvelles Galeries” is the name of a chain of department stores created in 1897, the stores have changed to become Galeries Lafayette.

In total, I have now found four “Camions”with different prints, including the original.  

With one different overprint I can imagine that someone has done this privately, for whatever reason, but with several new different overprints I can imagine that this was originally produced by the Victor Bonnet factory and I have already found more “Camions” with these above shown texts, so they are not isolated objects.

The companies that orders these “Camions” may have sold these models or given them away to there big customers or suppliers.

Image references:
The various pictures are with permission from Bertoina Auctions, Antico Mondo Auctions, Spielmuseum Soltau Germany, Maître Philippe CASAL, my own collection and private collectors.
The pictures from Renault trucks are from the © Archives privées Renault (with permission of Laurent Dingli. )
Picture: Les Camions Renault 1928 is from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain ( )


Fernand Martin – le Traîneau Russe 1892

(update of an article from 2019)

Both photos courtesy of Michael Bertoia Autions

This sled with horse is a special and very wanted toy.
It is a Fernand Martin from the first period, mentioned in the well-known books under number 40, according to the new discoveries it must be number 116 (see the catalog immage below) , produced from 1892
This toy is 20cm (7.87 inch) long and 10cm (3.94 inch) high
The sled contains a clockwork drive with a different key as we are used to, this is one of the “deviations” of the keys that we know.

It is probably made especially for the Russian market because the currently known boxes and the image in an original old catalog are provided with a Russian text.

Image from a catalog from 1898 with Martin product number 116

The text on the box is partly in Russian, thanks to a Russian reader
I get the translation from this Russian text and that is: “The Russian Sledges. New Mechanical Automatic Toy”

Picture from the magazine la Nature 1892 pag.89 Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –

In the first drawing you see the parts that are needed to make the sled, there are 44 pictured but I have to mention that in total only 33 parts are needed because the drawing contains various parts in the unprocessed and processed state.
As an example, part number 3 is the same as part 5, number 11 is the same as number 13 and there are a few more examples.
The only part that is not show is the reins.

Picture from the magazine la Nature 1892 pag.89 Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –

On the second drawing you see the compleet toy and a section of the mechanism.

An image of the LE TRAINEAU RUSSE on a collector card from Chocolat Louit

Conquete du pole Nord

Almost the same sled was used 17 years later in 1909 number 217 by Martin for the “Conquete du pole Nord” Discovery of the North Pole.
This toy was made by Martin in honor of the conquest of the North Pole by US Navy engineer Robert Peary, who claimed to have reached the Pole on April 6, 1909.
Martin takes another figure on the sled of the “le Traîneau Russe” and instead of the horse he used four dogs and added a pole.
The sled is connected to the pole by means of a string and, after winding, drive around the pole

Number 217 – la conquête du pole nord 1909

Fernand Martin, The squirrel in a cage from 1908

Picture courtesy toy museum Soltau Germany

A tin toy made in 1908 with the Fernand Martin product number 211 and the French name is: Le Petit Écureuil Vivant

Dimensions: 22 x 15 cm ( 8,66 inches x 5,91 inches )

page from the 1908 catalog

Mr Léonin Noguier from Paris was the designer in 1906 of this toy and had the patent.
In an article about the “Concours de Lépine” in the newspaper La Liberté from September 21, 1906, this toy was already recommended.
Martin, presumably during this “Concours de Lépine in 1906”, bought the rights to this patent from Mr. Noguier to make this toy a success.
These toys are regularly offered at various fairs and auctions.

On the side is a winding key, after winding the blue part with the bars starts to rotate around and it looks like the squirrel is running.

Pictures from auctions on the side: Live auctioneers

In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, squirrels locked in a rather small cage were very popular.
Many models have been produced and you can see where Martin got his inspiration from.
An area to rest, eat and sleep and a running wheel for the squirrel to run in.
You can still see this walking wheel in current modern hamster cages.
The old antique models are mainly made of wood and tin.

Is it a sentinel or a soldier ?

Martin and Flersheim have made a lot of military, but the most collectors often has no idea what the differences are, Martin and Flersheim used the names SENTINEL and SOLDIER.
The names SENTINEL and SOLDIER are often misused in literature, at auctions and in advertisements.
A sentinel (in French Sentinelle) is a person whose job is to stand and keep watch.
A soldier (in French Soldat) is a person who is a member of an army A provisional list of soldiers and sentinels produced by Martin and Flersheim, this list contains a number of uncertain things such as the correct numbers and names.


The Gentleman in Khaki a soldier (probably only for the English market including the, in that time, colony of Canada) in the advertising described as a soldier

From the Canadian Nerlich & Co Toronto : Fall holiday catalog 1900/1901 (Public Domain from: The Internet Archive

Le Vaillant Boer is a soldier

Left: Courtesy Bertoia auctions Richt: Picture from the French catalog: Maison Dorée Dec. 01. 1900

Present arms, God save the King is an sentinel (probably only for the English market including the, in that time, colony of Canada)

Present arms God save the King. Courtesy Bertoia auctions

The Sentinel (probably only for the English market including the, in that time, colony of Canada) see the picture of the figure with the bear hat below.

The Englisch: The Sentinel Courtesy Spielmuseum Soltau Germany

La Sentinelle (a series of presumably 3 sentinel figures: French – Russian and Italian)

The French La Sentinelle. Courtesy Bartoia auctions


number 232 Soldat Bulgare
number 238 Soldat Marocain
numbers ?? Soldat French – English – Belgian – Russian – Portuguese, The next numbers are available: 235-236-239-242-243-244-245. The real numbers are not yet been found.

Soldat Bulgare. Courtesy Bartoia auctions
Nos Alliés, soldat Marocain”. Courtesy Bartoia auctions

My question to the readers:
If there is someone who can give me one or more of the missing or the correct numbers, I would be very happy, and if you can help me, mail me: .
I’m looking for the right number for the Soldat French – English – Belgian – Russian – Portuguese, These numbers are available: 235-236-239-242-24

happy ads

We see that Martin toys are regularly depicted in magazines and in store catalogs, normally they look exactly like the original toy, so clearly recognizable, but it can also be different.
I particularly noticed two articles in old magazines, the toys are clearly Martins but now depicted in a cheerful free interpretation but yet clearly recognizable, the toy has come to “life”.

The first two pages below are pictured in the monthly magazine: Revue des Nouveautés from January 1910 and the last page I found it in the Catalogue Inventions Nouvelles la Maison S. Dick from 1908

Sorry but I don’t have a better picture

Victor Bonnet pistols.

Victor Bonnet has taken over the Flersheim factory in 1919, Victor Bonnet started making small tin pistols somewhere around 1919.
He started with his first model the Pan-Pan and ended ( as far as we know) with the Le Corsaire model.
After the relocation of the production of the Victor Bonnet factory in 1933, we no longer find pistols in the product range.
Probably is that the Victor Bonnet & Cie-in-liquidation, sold the patents and trademarks of guns/pistols to JEP.
In an JEP wholesalers catalog from July 1936, I found pistols with the same names as given in the production period of Victor Bonnet till 1933.

The Victor Bonnet list with pistol models with article numbers
Le Pan-Pan 247
Flac 256
Bombarde 257
Le Pétard 258
Tape_Fort 262
Le Sans-Balle 264
Le Costaud 266
Le Corsaire 269

As an example a page from a JEP catalog
Part of the page above.

In this enlarged part of the catalog page we see all the known Victor Bonnet pistol names except for one toy and that is number 1021 the Le Baby, that was a very small model with a length of 9.5cm.
Maybe this model also comes from Victor Bonnet but I have no certainty about that so far.

If we search in old JEP catalogs we still find many of these models back to 1961, so they have been in production at JEP for about 25 years.
If you take Victor Bonnet’s oldest model, the PanPan, it has even been in production for more than 35 years at the Victor Bonnet factory and the JEP factory together, but we see that the models have been modified and “modernized”

Here we see that the names are the same but that the some models have been modified and “modernized” (catalog early 60’s )
Details from the early 60’s catalog
The JEP model: Pan Pan

Recognize the differences between the Victor Bonnet and the older JEP pistols:

Both manufacturers have the name of the gun on one side and the name of the manufacturer on the other side. The image of the text may also deviate slightly, straight or curved. To make it clear, here is some examples of the “Bombarde” and the “Pan-Pan” models.

THE BOMBARDE: left the JEP and on the right the Victor Bonnet version
The PAN-PAN: left the JEP and on the right the Victor Bonnet version

Two more blogs about the Victor Bonnet pistols:


A newespaper revieuw from a visit at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900

Our colleague Le Temps did his little research on the toy of the year.

He gives the following funny details: What new species will we find? As a toy, surprisingly, we didn’t really see anything new; Already known mechanisms and genres have simply been applied to reality. First of all, here’s “Le Vaillant Boer” (Martin number 174 ),

a little man dressed in gray and beard, cartridge holder on his shoulder, felt hat over his ears, rifle at the ready. You turn the mechanics and the brave farmer starts spinning from right to left, with a rifle on his shoulder that never fires. It is completely harmless and does not injure anyone. Here’s again “The Gentleman in Khaki”, (Martin number 175)

made in Paris, but which has just been specially sent to London, where it is in great demand. Dressed in khaki, the English gentleman points the bayonet at an imaginary Boer. Then it is the “L’ Homme Corvée” (Martin number 173),

a small French soldier or English sailor, depending on the country of destination, who operates a broom.

The “Le Chinois” (Martin number 177),

Son of Heaven wielding a large saber in one hand, a formidable spear in the other with an imposing braid on the back, a long mustache and a very angry look. It will be the terror of little children who have not been good.

Finally, the typical Parisian toy, the drunkard “Le Pochard” (Martin number 172)

with his “illuminated” nose, radiant face, the good drunken shakes his bottle with one hand, his cup with the other; he walks unsteadily, he carries the glass and bottle to his mouth, he shakes his head and he wobbles, making many movements. And that for 39 cents. It will be the hit of the year.

Now let’s take a random look at the toys from around the world from all over France, Austria and Germany, which have a current character.

Inspired by the exhibition: the monumental gate, the meadow of the Swiss village, the lotto and the exhibition lottery, the patience game of the 1900 exhibition, the shepherdess of the Swiss village the Swiss waltzers, the moving sidewalk, animals from the Ferris wheel, the exhibition cube game, the exhibition shadow game and much more!

The events in China and Transvaal gave birth to the Chinese massacre, the war game, the Chinese house, the Chinese cake, the international war, Allied China’s troops, China’s war, the Chinese puppet the ‘Pass-Boer’ balls , the English Anglo-Boer skittles game a Boer village attacks the punished Boxer, the Transvaal magnetic fishing game with English and Boers, the Boer cymbal player and countless fortresses with English, Chinese or Boer soldiers

Finally, a note here and there:

More discoveries! The Parisian agent, the new Nord-Espress locomotive, the car explorer, the Nautiles submarine torpedo boat, the dazzling parachute, the Nicolas billiard table, the rack railway and… a disaster, the Franco-Russian shooting, the Paris-Montmatre funicular, the car that reproduces exactly the type of cars that drive around in Paris, and the tricycle car with characters with boots, to extremely refined music, dolls that waltz and sing, mechanical horses that jump, kick and neigh.

…But all that, ladies and gentlemen, the Parisian peddler will tell you, it makes noise, it is expensive, but it gets confused, while my merry drunkard or my rebellious Chinese, are beautiful, and it only costs 39 cents !

Text translation from the French newspaper: Le Patriote de la Vendée 1900, Journal de Politique, Agricole et Commercial, Organe d’union Républicaine

Note: The text is a free translation, I added the Martin numbers between the (…) and the pictures to the text myself

Le petit décrotteur – The little blackboot

I found an article in an old French technical magazine La Nature from 1898 about a shoeshine boy made by Martin.
This piece is put in motion by a clockwork mechanism
It was first made in 1898
light approx 13,5 cm ( 5.31 inch)
Fernand Martin number 167

Courtesy Bertoia Auctions
From the magazine La Nature 1895, Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –
The little street merchants of Paris

Free translation from the text above:

The little cleaner.
This is a very fun toy that adds to many others that we have already mentioned.
it is a small cleaner, one knee on the ground, holding a boot in one hand and a brush in the other.
Let us reassemble the mechanism, and we immediately see the brush stir vigorously, go forward, come back, and scrub the boot very conscientiously at each turn.
The movements are so natural and so well executed that they capture and surprise, and in spite of yourself we contemplate the little cleaner at work.
This little toy was sold on the boulevards in Paris by hawkers, we will soon find it at the same address.

From the magazine : lectures modernes 1902

The footstool is marked on both sides.

All postcards from my own collecion

Half a Fernand Martin, who knows more

A few years ago I found this piece and I’ve asked before if anyone knows more but so far no response so I’m trying again.

It’s on the bottom plate. clearly marked with the round FM logo and the triangle with number 138.
But otherwise it is in a bad incomplete state.

The feet are also in a strange way under it, it has no visible feet but the mounting is under the base plate.
I then searched which Martin, this was a part of but until now I have not found it.
Sure it is a part of an unknown Martin: perhaps specially made for a client, an exhibition, perhaps a prototype or a product from George Flersheim because there is still a lot of ambiguity about his produced toys.
I estimate it somewhere between 1910-1917, so it could be from Flersheim, because the pants are of the same fabric and colors as the L’autopatte number 218 version Martin.

Is there perhaps someone among the readers of this blog who can help me?

Fernand Martin – Le Livreur – Description of the patent number 186948

I found in a 1887 issue of the French magazine “DES BREVETS D’INVENTION ONT ETE PRIS” a description of the Le Livreur patent, (Martin number in the current books is 22 The new number will probably be 108 or 109)

This is a magazine where new patents are announced and some are described.
This edition contains 4 “Martin” patents, one of which, the “Le Livreur”, is fully described and from Fernand Martin.
The other three are only mentioned and are still unknown to me.
I also do not know that these three patents are from Fernand Martin or from another toy maker named Martin, maby Elie Martin ?, so maybe we will find out in the future.

Front page of the 1887 issue of the French magazine

Below the translated description of a part of page 8-9 and the associated drawings on Annex Plate II .

Dated November 12, 1887 from Mr. Martin

For a system of mechanism which makes it possible to actuate the toys by giving them movements analogous to those of the members of people and walking animals.

The invention consists in a system of mechanism allowing to actuate the toys with articulated subjects by giving them movements analogous to the naturel movements of the members of people  and walking animals.

This invention consists mainly in the combination with any engine of a mechanism housed either in the body or in the limbs of the subject, and arranged so that its different parts are operated reciprocally and successively.

In the drawing, I have supposed that the mechanism (motor) is placed in the car and that the subject to be actuated is represented by a man that makes the simulacrum of drawing it, but it is identical that I reserve the right to adopt the other subject, and to apply to it any motor deemed suitable, a mechanical engine, either thrust or traction, or hand.

Drawing in the magazine
  • Fig. 1, front view of the set of a toy built according to my invention.
  • Fig. 2, longitudinal section.
  • Fig. 3, front view of the subject’s leg control device.
  • Fig. 4, cross section of this device.

(a), motor that gives the subject constant thrust or traction; this movement, in the example given to the drawing, is a thrust movement which is transmitted by the car (d) of the arms in which the man (b) is placed.

The extremities of the legs of the man are finished so as to produce on the ground a rather large adhesion, either to the way of a pointed heel (f) , as it is represented, or in any other manner.

In the upper part, these legs are articulated on a cranked shaft (g) and are provided with notches or guide grooves (h), shapes and arrangements varying with the nature of the subject to be actuated and the movement that the we are producing.

These grooves embrace a fixed pin (i) and it is they, in fact, who, by sliding on this stud, exactly determine the movement of members.

Courtesy RSL Auction Company

Here is how my mechanism works:

The motor being in motion, constantly advancing the subject (b) tending to drag it on the ground, but because of the disposition of the heels (f), the leg which is in front is stopped; the forward movement continues uncomfortably, it is nocked that the leg which poses on the ground by the heel will straighten up and act on the crank shaft (g) by turning it, which brings the other leg into a identical position to the first, after having made it run a path characterized by the very nature of the groove (h) and its position in relation to the bent shaft.

At this moment, the second leg acts to activate the first, as we have to see it for this one.

As I said above, the nature of the subjects can vary to but I specifically reserve to apply it to men or to animals.

In the case of quadruped animals, I reserve the right to connect the limbs in any manner deemed suitable, the motor mechanism of the legs or supports may, in this case, be applied to one of their parts.

The whole of this mechanism is mounted in a box (k), which will be concealed tonic manner deemed suitable, or it will be mounted between the walls of the subject to be active.

But why there is a patent number 15632 on top of the toy?

Patent 15632 on top of the toy

Martin applied on November 12, 1887 for a patent in France where it was given the number 186948 and about the same time Martin applied the patent in England where it was given the number 15632.
But all Martin copies and boxes found have the English patent number 15632.
I have not yet found any copies or a box with the French patent number.
On the top of the cart and on the box is written: “F.M. S.G.D.G. France & Etranger Paris Patent 15632
(France & Etranger meens French and foreign)
I think Martin used the English patent number because it had already been approved and the application for the French patent was still being processed in France. The toy was already in production before the French patent was

So the toy was already in production with the English patent number before the French patent was approved and that English number remained on it throughout its production life.

Le Treuil a marble game from 1895

My newest acquisition, the smallest one of the three Le Treuil games versions with the Fernand Martin product number 149

Image from the original catalog from 1898

A marble game that was manufactured in three different versions and heights.
The smallest has a height of about 40 cm = 15,75 inch
The center star has a height of about 65 cm = 25,59 inch
And the largest and rarest a height of about 1.05 cm = 41,43 inch

During the marble’s journey down, the man turns the handle and it seems that he lets the marble go down itself, but gravity does its job here

The versions are also different but the principle remains the same
At the top you have to add marbles, and when you add the marble there is a a saucer on which the first marble falls and due to the weight of the marble, the gravity does its work and the saucer with the marble goes down.
At the bottom, the saucer hits a pin, causing the marble to fall out of the saucer and end up in a bowl.
There are curves in the bowl that the marble rolls in, these curves are numbered or collored.
There are no clear rules of this game, so children could let their imaginations run wild and determine the rules themselves.

saucer in the top position
saucer in the lowest position on top of the pin
The smallest with 1 person and a fixed numbered tray
The middle one with 1 person and a separate tray with colors and numbers
The longest version is almost the same as the middle version, but has two people and a separate tray with colors.
Patent number 248045, a drawing with the largest version shown.

Article about the 10e Lépine competition.

Found in the newspaper: Le Grande Echo du Nord et du pas de Calais from August 23 1910

complete article
Detail of the article

You can clearly see in this image, picture with the number 2, the Martin aircraft number 215 and picture with the number 4 two S.I.J.I.M. toys, such as the boy on the chair (L’Apprenti Cavalier) and the S.I.J.I.M. version of the delivery boy (Le Livreur Rapide)

Below is a free translation of the text accompanying the article.

The toy exhibition – the 10th Lépine competition – has just opened at the Grand-Palais in Paris.
We mainly see scientific toys …
A very complicated flying machine with cardboard propellers and the pilots sitting on the wings and entitled: “Airship with ultra-fast beats and cyclone effect through the combined use of an automatic starter and a patented spiral turning system.
Rather, it is a toy for a pupil of the Poly-technic school, ( this is one of the most prestigious and selective grandes écoles in France) and there may be a little too many of these toys.
Do intricate mechanics really keep kids busy?
They might be happier if they could just pour water into their father’s hat and let the goldfish swim in it.
And watch those bowler hats, they already have one for 4 fr. 95 …
But fathers never give such gifts, why?
The first Lépine competition was fun, varied, ingenious, sparkling with verve and with the Parisian spirit.

Courtesy Bertoia auctions

Of course we fall back on age-old routines, on patience, on unbreakable babies. (Unbreakable Babies Another well-known psychological flaw, notes a “Democracy” columnist. I ask you honestly, what’s the funny thing about a doll, if we can’t break its head any longer? ..)
And then, the Lépine competions in the past; in buildings that were too small and too crowded.
This year the competition has moved with an expansion.
It is lost in the great “Grand Palais”, immense and desolate.
The “stands” do not fill the glass hall, it is the nation of the Lilliput on the way to the giants.
Take the small planes as an example.
There are two kinds, the scientific ones, which look a lot like the real ones, and then the other ones that look nothing like that, which are cheap and simple.
In that respect, the progress is remarkable.
Take a tour of the Grand Palais: you’ll see “gliding flights” that you’ll tell me about.
Worth mentioning are the already mentioned different airplanes and the new versions of rather funny mechanical toys (like the organ player and the hairdresser, they are really much better than in life: at least we don’t hear these), and then the portraits of M. Lépine, etc., etc….
Ah! and then the sign of the times: the “Barred Street Game”, it tests your patience of course. It consists of a map of Paris with pawns.

Courtesy Betroia auctions S.I.J.I.M. number 36 Le Livreur Rapide

“It is, says the message, for every player to get to a point in Paris and avoid the blocked streets. There are no ordinary children’s toys in the Grand Palais.
There are also inventors with a lot of new inventions.
Do not forget that the competition is organized by the “Association des Petits Manufacturers et Inventeurs Français”.
One can only admire the careful and ingenious goodwill of so many unknown inventors.
Whether all their inventions are practical, I cannot tell you.
Their barbaric names scared me a bit, from the apulso-aries to the “hygienic lazy mattress”.
In general, they apply to the small acts of everyday life, such as brushing clothes, buttoning your boots, or lighting a lamp.

S.I.J.I.M. number 35 L’Apprenti Cavalier

Philanthropic inventors do their best to spare you an infinite number of simple and familiar gestures, so you have no doubt that they were exhausting.
If we listen and believe them, we couldn’t wash our hands without a hydraulic machine, a spring-loaded pumice stone and an electric nail brush.
It’s a somewhat complicated way to simplify life.
Yet among these too subtle inventions we see many excellent and very useful ones.
This 10th Lépine competition, is more than just an exhibition of toys or practical inventions, you know what it is? …
This is the exhibition of good people.

Part five – Les Joujoux

This is the last part of a series of five, a free translation of a part of the book LES JOUJOUX written by Mr. Pierre Calmettes in 1924.

If you haven’t read part one, two, three or four yet, click this link(s):

The result, immediate and inevitable, of the economic crisis for Martin automata toys that transformed the conditions of everyday life every day, the automata toys, which were one of the great additions to the toy trinket companies, are still praised in 1923 by many of their former customers, with as much respect or indifference as they were ten years ago, for their high-quality mechanical toys.

Our minds, adapting to so many things and accustomed to both hardship and abundance, have not yet come to the immediate appreciation of the price increase, fair or not, of certain objects.

We are thinking carefully about this depreciation of our old currency, the premise of all the gains; we even accept, not without murmurs, grunts and gnashing of teeth, the continuous increase in the purchase prices of food, bread, wine, meat, vegetables, etc.

Young and old loved this toys. photo courtesy of Francois Binetruy

We resign ourselves to giving 400 francs to a tailor for a 120 franc suit in the past, women were seduced by fabrics, lace, jewels, hats, the prices of which were multiplied by two, by three, by four or even by five; but we are hesitant to buy toys for 5 fr. 45 to 6 fr. 45, because we remember that his label used to have 1 fr. 95.

It is because the lady who paid a bill that she would have fled in fear other times acquits it with the ulterior motive that the prices are higher but the quality of goods is superior.

She easily imagines, quite wrongly, that the added value is motivated by the new excellence of the product, that it differs in appearance or material, does not resemble similar products manufactured in 1913.

It is not possible to have the same thought when looking at the small automata toys.

Not only is their design still that of their first inventor, but also their shapes are not new.

If new models had to be made, taking into account the current labor prices required for three months to prepare a single type of automata toys, this lapse of time would only allow the manufacturer to launch four new products annually, then these new models would come to such high amounts that the cost and sales price would have to be excessively increased.

Therefore, only ten new models have been made since the war.

The automata toys sold today in the streets or on the shelves of department stores are therefore, save for a few details, almost the same as those distributed in 1914 at the same points.

The customer does not always understand that logically he now has to pay more than 5 francs for the Ma Portiére (the lady with a broom), which he paid 1 fr. 95 nine years earlier, even though she has not changed her costume and that her broomsticks by the same mechanism.

To enable potential buyers to understand the why and how of this multiplication of centimes in francs, which appear on the labels of Fernand Martin’s animated figures.

It would be enough for them to visit the factory that makes them and show them some invoices for the raw materials and the wages they have to pay to the workers.

The ever-increasing prices of materials, the general rise in wages, were automatically reflected in the selling prices of toys, with the severity of an inevitable rise which all manufactured articles and all commodities had to undergo.

Moreover, the exaggerations in the selling prices of toys, in the present case of automata toys, are not always attributable to the toy manufacturers, it is even necessary to say, and we will take advantage of this example to do it, that it is only the resellers who cause the price increases, the increases that they decide for themselves with the sole excuse that it is for their own benefit and independent of the customers.

For example, the two most popular automata at the moment, the Le Pochard (the drunkard) and the Le Gai Violoniste (the violinist), were sold to wholesalers for 3 fr.15 and 3 fr.35 by the factory, are quoted as 5 fr. .45 and 5 fr.50 in a large popular department store, and 6 fr.50 and 6 fr.95 in the front of a toy store in the upscale neighborhoods.

One of the major department stores the: Grand Bazar Paris

We could give more examples, and all the more striking and definitive as we started to include prices in major department stores.

The dealer who wants to earn on an item, or better yet, is solely responsible for the high prices of toys.

The producers are forced to accept the exorbitant terms of the intermediaries and see the high cost of toys only as an opportunity for loss of income, since toys always sell better the cheaper they are. But the deep flaw in our commercial institutions, the obligation for manufacturers to use intermediaries who make the real profit, this illogic, accepted and applied everywhere, which gives the profit of work to those who create nothing, these mistakes that we accept and suffer through atavism, exist in all industries and in all professions.

After all, toys have not become more expensive than at present all other products that are useful to our lives or indispensable to our complicated civilization, and when we pass the department stores or stop to avoid the pictorial speeches of a street peddler, we have to forgot old sales prices of the automata toys, and not just the automata toys, but all the toys.

Let’s accept the current rates, like the inevitable consequences of a war without precedent in the annals of humanity and let’s buy toys.

They entertain the children and they support thousands of people.

And not only did the toys bring joy and cheerfulness to little children of all times and all countries, they also serve as a distraction for adults who forget their sad moods and find it a distraction to look at their children’s toys, those toys that are often almost the same. is like the toys they were entertained with themselves when they were little.

But toy productions aren’t just a fun pastime for kids of all ages, toys sometimes have more serious qualities and some give, to those who have them, a penchant for useful tasks.

Thus the automata, the preparation of which we now know, sometimes become excellent energy teachers for the youth, showing them the mechanical application of some manual work.

These toys serve as examples, and examples to be followed, when working with a feverish activity, such as the Les Courageous Scieurs de long.  (board sawmills), the Chand Tonneaux (the man with the wooden barrels), the L’artiste capillaire ( the hairdresser), the Le charcuterie (the butcher), the Le Fort De La Halle (the man who carries bags)), the Le Petit Décrotteur (the shoe shiner), the Les Agents (the cop), L’homme De Corvée ( the street sweeper).

These figures that, reassembled, do not stop working, as long as the spring they contain works on the gears, don’t they give children the idea of ​​using their hands to do useful work?

Children can easily imagine that they can imitate the gestures of adults without difficulty.

If so, but much better, they will be convinced of the possibility of replicating their toys when they see the movements of these craftsmen and come to practice the craft of the craftsmen of flesh and bone.

two of the biggest sales successes

The education that the little toys give to the children is not the least interesting side of their history.  To work, to work without ceasing, is the first of all conditions to achieve the goal that must be our generation: to educate our industry, to clean up our trade, to raise our morale.

Toys that, even if only a small part, can contribute to the improvement of our future craftsmen, by giving them a taste of the work, these toys are never too expensive.

Even at the high prices after the war, we as teachers of our toddlers must give them the lessons that they will be invaluable if they are given the calling of profitable work and useful to all.

And it’s funny to think that children will one day become good craftsmen because they have seen toy figures evolve, propelled by a pair of wheels, through gears, hinges and a spring that is wound by a key.

This was the fifth and last article of the series “Les Joujoux”, I hope you have understood something more about the problems of the toy industry at the end of the first quarter of the last century.

Visit to a unique museum with a huge collection of Fernand Martin toys

A short report of the festivities surrounding the “Stiftungs- und Museumsfest” of the Spielmuseum on June 10-12 in the city of Soltau in Germany.

The festivities were spread over three museums, the main building of the toy museum, the annex of the toy museum with the Fernand Martin toys and Felto Filzwelt, the felt museum where you can see the history of felt production and processing and where a large collection of felt toys from Steiff placed in a huge Panorama display case.

Main Building of the toy museum

On Saturday day 2 we attended a lecture especially on dollhouses by Mrs. Elisabeth Lewe, a collector and specialist in dollhouses.
For those interested in Martin toys, the Fernand Martin’s collection of this museum was especially in the spotlight on Sunday day 3.

On Sunday morning I was able to give a lecture myself especially about the Fernand Martin collection and the collecting life of Arthur Verdoorn and of course our mutual friend Lourens Bas was not forgotten. (Arthur and Lourens are the makers of the well-known Fernand Martin book )

Arthur had his own private museum next to his house and that museum was filled with several thousand pieces of antique toys.

During his life Arthur had already determined that his entire collection had to be properly housed and after a long search and with good consultation this became the Spielmuseum in Soltau.

Arthur Verdoorn’s collection consisted not only of Fernand Martin toys, but also included all kinds and makes of antique toys, mainly from Europe and America and ranging from wooden, cast iron, paper, lithographed tin, hand-lacquered tin, etcetera.

The Ernst family, founder of the museum, have gone out of their way to properly house the collection, which has also resulted that they rent an old existing building with a large retail space directly across the street from their existing main building.
The majority of Arthur’s collection is housed in this adjoining building, with a special section containing Fernand Martin’s toys.
This department has been given the name “Petit Paris”.

This collection is still being expanded with new acquisitions and is therefore probably the largest Martin collection currently housed in a public museum.
The toys are not statically arranged but playful like Arthur had it in his own museum.

Mathias and Antje Ernst have put a lot of effort into making it a beautiful whole.
Photos speak louder than words and that is why I quickly took some photos during our stay, some of which I have depicted in this report so that everyone can see what I mean, but you must of course have been there yourself to taste the atmosphere.
Also included are a few screens showing a number of Martin toys working.

Central to “Petit Paris” is an advertising column, recreated after the model of the old advertising columns as they stood in Paris around 1900, in and on this column is information, toys and secret doors hidden behind toys.
For information, opening times, etc. see:

There is much more to see than just Fernand Martin toys

If you have the opportunity to visit this toy museum with its two buildings, you will never regret it, even “not” Martin collectors will enjoy, this visit can also be combined with a combination entrance ticket for a visit to the felt museum Felto, located directly in the vicinity of the toy museum.

1 main building toy museum, 2 annex of the toy museum, 3 Felto Filzwelt,

Le gai violoniste – The violin player

I found an article in an old French technical magazine La Nature from 1897 about a sweeping violin player made by Martin.
This piece is put in motion by a clockwork mechanism
It was first made in 1897
light approx 20cm ( 7,87 inch)
Fernand Martin number 160

This toy is one of the most produced pieces and was even produced by Victor Bonnet until the 1930s

There are two versions, the oldest version has a long overcoat, as also mentioned in the article below, the version with a short coat was produced later, presumably a cost saving.

From the magazine La Nature 1895, Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –
Both “coat” versions Courtesy Spielmuseum Soltau Germany

A free translation of the above text:

The violinist.
Here is a charming toy that has a lot of drive.
A poor fellow in a long overcoat, with a top hat not without a few strokes, walks around with a violin in his hand, and in his journey he lets out some musical tunes.
The motor mechanism, which controls both the movement of the legs and the richt arm, is a spring placed inside and that an external key is enough to set it in motion.
The violinist you can find at Mr. Fernand Martin, 88, boulvard Ménilmontant, in Paris.

PAY ATTENTION when you will buy one

There are figurines for sale that were not produced by Martin, Flersheim or Bonnet, these are counterfeit / iomitations, for the untrained collector perhaps not immediately recognizable at first but take a look at the following violinists, these are all counterfeit / imitations.

When you will buy one first pay attention to the key it must always be one of these 6 models

Part four -Les Joujoux

This is part four of a series of five, a free translation of a part of the book LES JOUJOUX written by Mr. Pierre Calmettes in 1924.

If you haven’t read part one, two or three yet, click this link(s):

The fabrics are cut with a small mold cutter and the

These activate the mechanism and make the man walk and move, they are solely responsible for his future life.

They may reject it as unbalanced or declare it suitable for packaging.

The room where the figures are placed in their boxes is not one of the least active in the factory.

In the middle of the selling season, during times of heavy traffic, they filled three to four thousand boxes a day.

Only a thousand are currently being prepared.

Not the cop with the white bat, taken as the subject of study on our first visit and lately followed by us from workbench to workbench, like an old acquaintance, but figures now in fashion, about two hundred models made by the factory are manufactured since its inception.

And by an irony well suited to the satirical spirit of automata, the most in-demand of all mechanical figurines is the one which, through its success, replaced the Les agents (the French agent), is the Le Pochard (the drunkard).

The Les agents was also responsible for modifying and playing with the Le gai violonist (the violinist).

This drunkard shares his current love with the Le gai violoniste, the Auto transport (the dump truck) Le jeune ecuyer (boy on the chair), de L’ours, (bear) de L’autopatte (boy on the cart with fruit) and the Le Petit Livreur (the little delivery boy).

the Auto transport (the dump truck)

All “new” models require three months of research to prepare the special tools required for their implementation.

The raw materials that go into their production are evaluated.

Needed in 1914:  2,000 kilos of tin and sheet metal per month, that is 24,000 kilos per year.

Before 1914:  500 yards of fabric were used per day, and by the end of the year, approximately 200,000 yards of fabric, canvas, or flannel had gone to the factory.

Right now in 1923:  20 meters per day, 7,000 meters per year is sufficient.

And this formidable difference between the two examples is partly due to the new manufacture of models entirely canned, which for their decoration only need water a few times with the airbrush or rare brushstrokes, but no longer know the costumes in different fabrics.

In addition, the sale of mechanical toys subject to customary law, which has become scarce since the war.

Mr. Martin once told me his earlier production numbers.

That was at the time of intensive labor in 1910, when he produced about 8,000 automata per day, of which for the whole year there were a total of 7 to 800,000 of these automata bonhommes figurines, supplied by the factory to the world market.

We now have to reduce these prestigious numbers to 1,000 toys completed every day, to 240,000 for the whole year.

The era of large orders coincided with cost prices so low that they could sell at very low cost, but still pay off.

We paid the fabric cutters per cut from 0 fr. 40 to I fr. 50 per thousand. (fr. is French franc)

The female workers were paid by the day, just like the male workers, the female workers received one French franc per hour for ten hours of work, the male workers received 3 francs for the same time/ presence in the workshop.

In 1923 the workers are all paid by the hour, the mechanics have 3 to 3 francs. 50, the editors, dressers, painters, etc., have 1 fr. 75, so that is an average amount of 24 to 28 francs and 14 francs per day respectively.

A worker today in 1923 earns 8 francs more for eight hours of work than they earned in 1914 for a ten-hour day.

The old salaries, which were then the usual wages, have been more distant from us then by events than by time, which today seem exceedingly modest to us, made it possible to obtain reductions in cost prices, so that retail prices were affordable.

We could then roughly supply the toys for 11 or 12 francs for the twelve pieces per dozen and deliver them each to the street vendors for 1 fr. 45. and these they resold for 1 fr. 95.

Like all goods, the toy industry suffer under the general rise in the cost of living and is not what it once was and its products have lost their old reputation as popular mechanical toys because of their subjects, their technique and their selling prices of 11 or 12 francs a dozen in 1913 are the Martin “bonhommes” now arrived in 1923 at 42 and 45 francs per dozen or a retail price of 3 francs. 50 to 3 francs. 75 each, ex works price.

At the wholesale price of 37 Fr.80 and 40 Fr.50 per dozen, or 3 Fr.15 and 3 Fr.38 each sold to street vendors.

Street vendor in Paris selling his Martins

Presented in the major department stores, the same “bonhommes” are labeled at 5 fr.50.

In the New Year’s Eve catalogs of 1922, the prices for the “Le Petit Livreur” stood at 5 fr. 95; La Petit Marchande D’oranges at 6 fr. 45 and the Le Déverseur at 9 fr. 90.

These prices, which are unlimited, make parents think, who don’t always, as they have in the past, like to take care of their toddlers at any given opportunity, depending on the age, a firefighter, an orange seller, a dancing bear, a drunkard , a violinist or any other subject.

But let’s face it, the prices have not been increased for nothing.

Raw materials and wages have doubled, tripled and quadrupled in the past decade; we have just seen the new wages to the workers; we give them here again, in addition to the comparative prices of the materials, the examination of such a table is sufficient to understand the emergence of articles made with these materials and by these workers.

SALARIS FROM 1914 TO 1923:

Salaries in 1914: Day worker 10 fr. Per day Day worker 3 fr. Per day

Salaries in 1923: Hourly workers 3 francs per hour, per eight-hour day 24-28 francs.

Hourly workers, per eight-hour day 14 francs.


Can 30 francs per 100 kilos to 260 francs per 100 kilos.

Small gears: 8 fr. 50 per thousand to 41 francs per thousand.

Fabrics: 0.35 fr. per meter to 3 fr. 75 per meter.

When you read these figures, it should come as no surprise that the factory charges 3 fr. 50 and the most expensive 8 francs for its cheapest machine.

It is not surprising that this factory, which ten years ago supplied nearly a million automatic figures a year to customers in the five parts of the world, which received thousands of orders from America and England, is still regarded today as one of our most important factories of toys and as the first for “automata” , while now in 1923, with his 80 workers, he makes no more than just 1,000 small figures a day, with a total of 240,000 figures for the twelve months of this year.

There is clearly a breakdown for these kind off toys as with all other toys.

Read next time further in the last part 5

Ma portière – The sweeping lady the first version

I found an article in an old French technical magazine La Nature from 1895 about a sweeping lady made by Martin.
This nice piece is put in motion by the well-known Martin “rubber band” method, the winding is done by the winding handle at the top of the head, under het scirt is the “rubber band” that goes to the movement mechanism.
It was first made in 1895
light approx 22cm ( 8,66 inch)
Fernand Martin number 147

This is the first version, a later version has a clockwork mechanism with the key on the back.
From the magazine La Nature 1895, Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –

A free translation of the above text:

The sweeping lady.
Mr. Fernand Martin, the able director of the French manufacture of mechanical and automatic iron toys, sends us, with a specimen from the mechanical concierge, the following letter:
-I am sending you my latest novelty, as I am used to it, and, as I know you are very knowledgeable, I call your attention to the mode of propulsion of this toy that I mainly get through the pendulum which strikes to the right and to the left and by the inclination of the plush which is under the feet (no 2 in the figure) and which makes it possible to advance but not to retreat.
This houskeeper is operated, which sweeps by turning the rubber straps which form the spring of the motor.
Number 3 shows the inner mechanism of the doll.
When the winder has been turned to tighten the rubber, the toy is placed on a flat but non-slippery surface; the door starts to sweep as it walks, and it stands perfectly upright (no 1).
It is a very ingenious toy.
The manufacturer is, as we have said, Mr. Fernand Martin, 88, boulevard Ménilmontant, Paris.

You want to know more about this toy then look at the next link:

Victor Bonnet: Le Clown Orchestre Number 253

Produced from about 1927
Brass nameplate between the legs

With 5 keys you can operate one of the legs, arms or head per key, when you press a key a bell will sound.
The toy is made of tinplate, wood for the base and the back, paper, fabric and brass for the bells and the nameplate.
The height is about 25 cm

If you want to buy one, please note the following:
the basic color is blue, factory applied and not (hand) painted.
pay close attention to the clothing that has been replaced very often
around the neck is a piece of lace fabric
there should be a pointed hat on the head
also pay attention to the hand-painted face, the applied accents are applied quickly and tightly, with over-painted faces this is usually “vibrating”
the bells are made of brass
the wooden base and the back have a brown/red color
under the keys and under the feet is a decorated paper ( in a few differend designs )

Toy makers needed new designs every time to produce.
Many of these designs came from the direct living environment of the makers.
Now I think the idea for this Victor Bonnet’s clown came from earlier toys produced because, I have found several earlyer examples from that time of toys that are very similar but produced by other toy makers.
See some examples here:

Courtesy Auction Team Breker
left figure is by Decamps around 1895, the right figure maker unknown around 1910 Source: the book “Faszinierende Welt der Automaten” from Annette Beyer 1983

Thanks for the help from publishing house Callwey München and from the toy museum Soltau Germany

Question !!! La Perruche 1882

I saw this rare Martin on Ebay France recently.
He also disappeared very quickly.
Who knows where it is and could send some more pictures of it.
I want to write an article about this.

J’ai vu ce rare Martin sur Ebay France récemment.
Il a également disparu très rapidement.
Qui sait où il se trouve et pourrait envoyer d’autres photos de celui-ci.
Je veux écrire un article à ce sujet.


Part three -Les Joujoux

This is part three of a series of five, a free translation of a part of the book LES JOUJOUX written by Mr. Pierre Calmettes in 1924.

If you haven’t read part one or two yet, click this link(s):

The fabrics are cut with a small mold cutter and the sleeves of the suits are not sewn together, to simplify the work they make tubes of fabric several meters long, we make meters and meters of them, and when they costume connected they are first cut into pieces and use, they are cut in a few seconds to the size of the arms to be covered.

The mechanical figures are dressed so quickly that the eye can hardly follow them in the hands of the seamstresses; they take them naked to the left and they go to the right covered with their pants and their jacket, or their dress and their bodice.

Provided the clothes hold up, we don’t look at the size of these points.

Neat stitching would not match the relative durability of this toy.

These mechanical toys must be popular toys, it is by their final appearance that they are funny and precious, by their gestures, by their attitude and it makes little difference whether their resource has an intrinsic value or not.

The brown bear “L’ Ours Martin” version with the lacquered head made in the George Flersheim period.

Whether these dolls represent a clown walking on hands, a firefighter climbing a ladder, a pianist beating a piano, a violinist playing his violin, or a carpenter sawing wood, they are all dressed in coarse fabrics hastily put together.

But when they indulge in their debauchery, these automata are fun and picturesque, they have everything you need to please kids, and if they were luxuriously dressed it might be much less fun for the children.

In addition, the simplification of their costumes allows for the most unexpected transformations of the same articulated carcasses.

By changing the uniform of a French police officer into an English police officer.

We turn an American shoe shiner into a Parisian shoe shiner, the soldiers dress, according to the orders, with all the allied uniforms and with the same skeleton we can also make other effects, you could turn them into for example an African singer, a soldier Annamite (a soldier from Vietnam), an Eskimo or Indian.

The clothes, the color of the skin and the hair are different, but the gears that drive them are the same.

And what also does not differ is the number of operations that have to be performed, one after the other, to convert the iron sheets taken from the rolling mills into moving toys.

The pianist

One of the most complicated subjects prepared in the Martin workshops is the pianist, hairy and suitably dressed, he strikes his piano with a tempo worthy of the composers Bauer, Pugno or Paderewski.

Sixty-two parts are needed for the assembly and it goes through two hundred and twenty hands before it is finished.

The cop (les Agents) with the white bat, which was topical a few years ago, claimed the care of one hundred and twenty-seven hands, engaged in one hundred and twenty-seven consecutive operations or steps.

We followed this cop on our first walk through the factory, we saw it go into the steam cutters with the iron blades at the entrance and we saw it come out of the shop, locked in beautiful cardboard boxes, colored in blue and red, the colors of the city of Paris.

The cop is out of fashion, but figures are still being made in the factory that resemble it anatomically. They are simply dressed in different costumes and given newer names.

To us, the amiable director of the workshops was kind enough to let us follow through the sequence of operations of this good cop who has occasionally become a faithful guardian of our Parisian streets.

The torsos and heads are punched into two parts after cutting, which will meet during assembly.

These pieces are cut from pieces of black iron for the torsos and copper for the heads.

After stamping, a special machine evens out the burrs, drills the holes for mounting the body on the legs, the mechanism in the body and the head above the mechanism.

This consists of springs, gears, a regulating exhaust and two “cranks”. These “crutches” are one of the inventor’s finds.

They make the cop move according to the immutable rules of military marching, that is, by jerky gestures.

It is these “crutches” that, lifted in turn by the engine and leaning on the ground, push the body forward, the body is in balance.

Assembled, the little cop has a good set up.

The gears are carefully oiled and then checked successively by the clockwork makers and experts. These allow only the toys with perfect movement and balance to the go dyeing.

Accepted by the review committee, the agents are brought in trays of fifty for the workers who paint two hundred a day.

This Les Agent (The Cop) you can see in the Toy Museum in Soltau Germany

An cop uniform consists of: trousers, a tunic, a cape and a cap.

We dress the figures in batches of fifty.

Regular clothing requires the use of a foot of fabric, cut into three parts, which fit together with wide seams.

The three buttons and the decorations on the jacket, cut from silver paper, are attached to the jacket by the glue machines.

It is also they who put the black paper belt and add the gold paper buckle.

The cap, stamped at the same time as the head, in the same piece of metal, is colored black, red and white.

To complete the uniform, all you need to do is glue a cardboard hand to the bottom of the left sleeve that floats, without a metal arm. to be completed in one hour. When fully clothed, the cops are sent back to the controlling keywind clockwork makers.

Read next time further in part 4

Number 172 and 172 ???

Looking through Martin’s old catalogs I found that Martin numbered two different toys identically.
They are the “Le Pochard” and the “Le Balayeur”
Both got the same number 172, (see the box label and the catalog image) .
In the book by Frédéric Marchand they are also mentioned on pages 58 and 102 with number 172 but in the book by Lourens Bas with numbers 172 and 176.

Box label
Catalog image
catalog image (no box label found till now, when someone has a box label! let me know)

Here an overview of the numbers between 172 and 179
The list of toy numbers from the Le Pochard to the Bamboula that have been confirmed so far by box labels and or catalog images:
Le Pochard 172
Le Balayeur 172
L’Homme de corvée 173
……. 174
Le Gentleman Khaki 175
……. 176
Le Chinois 177
L’Agent de Police 178
Bamboula 179

So there are two numbers that are unknown and there is 1 toy de: Le Vaillant Boer who does not yet have a definitive number and must fit in the previous number series, so number 174 or 176 are available, one of these two is for the Le Vaillant Boer but which toy is the remaining number ????

“JOUETS DE COLLECTION” Galerie de Chartres auction on April 23 – 2022

The French auction house: Galerie de Chartres has this time a few nice Fernand Martin/Victor Bonnet toys in the “LIVE” auction on April 23 -2022.
Furthermore, there are many more other beautiful toys in this auction that we can look for.

Auction numbers: 225-226-227-228


Here the link for the entire collection to be auctioned:


After the auction, I will publish the realized prices for these Martin’s

Regarding the objects described in this article, I do not make a statement about condition or value.
I advise interested collectors always do to research yourself, to view the object or to contact the seller / auction

Le jouet de pécheur à la ligne – The toy fisher with a line.

I found an article in an old French technical magazine La Nature from 1892 about a tin fisherman made by Martin.
This nice piece is put in motion by the well-known Martin “rubber band” method, the winding is done by the winding handle at the front of the boat, under the boat is the “rubber band” that goes to the movement mechanism.
It was first made in 1892
length approx 22cm ( 8,66 inch)
Fernand Martin number 120

Courtesy Bertoia Auctions
From the magazine La Nature 1892, Source: (Cnum – Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts –

The free translation of the above text :

Le jouet de pécheur à la ligne
Dressed in white canvas and wearing, as it should be, the classic wide-brimmed straw hat, he is standing at the front of his boat, the little fisherman on the line; he holds in one hand his net which is beginning to be well filled; on the other, he maneuvers his line, at the end of which, when he withdraws it, we see a brightly colored fish wriggling.
The fishing is good, it works every time!
This toy is due to Mr. F. Martin, the well-known Parisian manufacturer of which we have already presented several creations to the readers of La Nature.
We find there the cachet of originality which already distinguished Ies other toys of this inventor.
Here again, it is the twisted rubber band which gives movement to the two drive wheels placed at the front of the boat.
One of them actuates, by means of a connecting rod, a horizontal cross member to which it gives an oscillating movement which is transmitted to the fisherman, the other carries on its outer face a metal blade contoured in a spiral and playing the role of cam.
This very simple set is enough to give the character the movement of a true fisherman in the exercise of his functions.
The one of the legs is welded to a vertical socket which oscillates and allows the fisherman to turn back and forth to follow with his eye his line which descends the stream, then, once straightened, to bring back strongly the line in front.
The socket is crossed by a vertical rod which rests at the bottom on the cam and hooks at the top to the back of the bust of the character articulated at the top of the legs, and which is straightened by the effect of the counterweight in the form of a net with fish he is holding in his hand when the cam stops acting on the vertical rod.
A longer explanation of the mechanism would be tedious.
It is with the help of this simple arrangement that we see our fisherman, first camped upright, turn forwards and backwards to cast his line, lean while turning back and forth to do not lose sight of it as it descends the stream, then stand up abruptly to remove the line from the water and the fish that has just taken it each of these movements is executed with a natural so perfect that it recalls a real scene of angling, seen through the big end of the telescope.
The fisherman’s toy can be found at M. Martin’s, 90, boulevard Menilmontant, in Paris.

Part two – Les Joujoux

This is part two of a series of five, a free translation of a part of the book LES JOUJOUX written by Mr. Pierre Calmettes in 1924.

If you haven’t read part one yet, click this link:

These workers are also responsible for preparing the feet, lead feet, on which are attached the iron wires, which in the automata replace the femur, tibia and fibula.

These feet are heavy enough to keep the loopers in balance.

A wire of the same diameter is used to make the arms, skeletal arms, at the end of which the hands are welded.

The two halves of the torso, chest, abdomen and shoulders are joined together by small tongues and discs.

This forms the rib cage in which the engine will be embedded.

The engine is the soul of the machine.

Whether it’s a city cop, a clown, a lady with a broom or a firefighter, they’re all the same cogs.

These gears consist of ground iron and red copper gears, fused yellow copper pinions and steel pivots.

It is a steel spring sometimes 30 centimeters long and till 10 millimeters wide, which transmits the movement to the gears.

These act on the pinions, which turn other gears, and these make the machines spin or jump. It is understandable that expert employees are responsible for assembling the motors.

These engines must be flawless.

Shouldn’t the key that locks the spring go into the most ruthless of all hands, those of children?

And it was necessary to foresee, for the creation of an automaton mechanism, that it will be handled with incompetence, bent crookedly and thrown to the ground.

In fact, it needs to be fixed with special care so that it can function more than twice between the clumsy fingers of their little owners.

But the way they are designed, they are very strong, even the most complicated ones, the ones with eight or ten gears.

With a few details, it’s the same springs, the same gears and the same pinions that drive all models, made by the factory and running, tapping, pulling, driving, pushing, playing, rolling, mowing, sweeping, pumping, sawing, etc.

Once adjusted, tested, checked, accepted by the supervisors, the engines are prepared for assembly.

Mechanics connect the heads, hands, legs, arms, feet and all the parts that make up the figure.

Before dressing

The fitters are equipped with a small anvil, a hammer, a punch and pliers.

With dexterity they insert the legs into the indentations, fold these legs backwards and thus connect firmly and quickly with the skeleton, the half torso and the head to the neck.

After all their pieces come together, the automata present themselves to you so strangely lanky that they present you to the aliens of HG Wells (This is a reference to the science fiction novel: “The war of the worlds” by HG Wells) remind.

Their legs and their arms of wire, attached to a torso resembling an armor, their heads and their hands, blackened by stamping, form an ugly and incomprehensible whole, whose resemblance to the monstrous machines of the English writer is complete, when the engine starts and we see the feet go up alternately, carried by gaunt legs, pushing them forward, by stiff and jerky movements, a black box surmounted by a head that turns right and left, without one’s face from the skull, beneath the layer of dirt that covers it.

Children who love to play with this toy would never appreciate seeing it during assembly.

In fact, it is likely that they would categorically refuse to take such a strange object in their hands.

In the painting and dressing room, the transformation from an ugly mechanism into a beautiful toy takes place.

The women, who only populate the painting studio, share the work.

In the past, each of them treated only one color and one part of the figure.

And this little figure traveled from one to the other.

After dressing and painting

The first had pink on the head and on the hands; a second painted the mouth with carmine, another created the visual part with blue and black, another applied black varnish to the feet, to put the old man on a nice pair of pumps.

Today the work is simplified; all uniform colors are applied to the figures with an airbrush and only the details of the heads or the costumes are still colored by hand.

The wig is made simply with a layer of glue on the skull and felt scraps as hairs on the glue.

As it stands, the mechanical toy has taken on color and hair, but his body is still a skeleton.

He must be dressed, an operation that will take place once the shades of pink, black, blue, brown, white or red it is covered with will be dried.

The costumes with which we dress the vending machines have only a very distant relationship with clothes that adorn the ordinary dolls or the luxury dolls.

Even the simplest ordinary dolls have a more beautiful toilet, we cannot compare them with those of the mechanical toys from Martin’s factory.

The making of these dresses are done by ladies or girls. If you have spent a moment in the workshop area of ​​the factory dedicated to the clothing, you will understand why the dresses of the expensive luxury dolls are better cut and put together than those of the vending machines figurines

As an economic factor, here only the speed count. the workers have to work very fast.

Without realizing it, they applied the theories of the Taylor method. (Frederick Taylor was an American mechanical engineer who contributed to the theory of workshop organization (Taylorism)

The seams are then often replaced by a brush stroke with glue.

All useless gestures are suppressed, all superfluous things left out, such as sometimes sewing with thread and needle.

It’s faster and it’s much sturdier.


The Firefighter- Le Pompier a L’échelle, an overview of the differences.

Martin has produced many different figures.
The toy which was a great success was produced over a long period of time and Martin’s successors; George Flersheim and Victor Bonnet have also continued to produce these successes with sometimes minor or larger adjustments and changes.
The changes resulted from improved production methods, the pressure to produce cheaper, changes in “fashion” such as clothing but also, as in this example, the helmet and the keys.

Dipping and drying of the three-part “Martin” ladder in 1905


1) First released by Martin in 1904 with the number 197.
2) Flersheim reproduced the same Martin 1904 model in 1912, he only changed the type of key.
3) But later Flersheim modernized, between 1912 and 1915, the head and a different “modern” helmet model.
4) Victor Bonnet reproduced the Flersheim fireman again in 1919, he only changed the key to a Victor Bonnet model and he got a completely different ladder, this ladder was a freestanding model and consisted of 3 separate components, one component is the three parts ladder and the other two components are the separate parts for the behind standard, this standard is attached to the ladder at the top and attached to each other in the middle and to the three parts ladder with a small tube.
5) Later the victor Bonnet model got a start/stop handle on the back, these are quite rare.

You see the differences are sometimes small.  

Left model by Martin 1904 Right Martin model released by Flersheim 1912

-left- MARTIN : three-part ladder and a low back of the helmet and a clockwork with Martin key.
-right- FLERSHEIM : three-part ladder and a low back of the helmet and a clockwork with Flersheim key.

Left Flersheim model 1912/13 Right Flersheim model but released by Victor Bonnet 1919

-left- FLERSHEIM : the same three-part ladder but now with a different model head and modern model helmet, the clockwork get a typical Flersheim key.  
-right- VICTOR BONNET : a different freestanding ladder and a clockwork with the Victor Bonnet model key. (see detail), the VICTOR BONNET model gets a another box.

Box used by Martin and Flersheim Box used by Bonnet
Victor Bonnet model with the freestanding ladder and a start/stop handle on the back.
courtesy of Bertoia Auctions

Antique toys on a short film

This film you can see a part of the Jac Remise tintoys collection, this film is made in 1970 with beautiful toys. Jac Remise is Frenchman and the author of many toy articles and books

Titel of this film: 1970 Periodista Televisión Francesa Coleccionista Juguetes Jac Remise collection anciens jouets and made by RETROCLIPS

Retroclips is a channel dedicated to collecting “retro” videos to refresh our memories. If we do not look at the past as it was seen in its time, we can end up seeing it to the taste of the dominant powers in the present.

More films about old toys??

Last two months I published two other beautiful films, haven’t seen it yet? then click on these links:

Part one – Les Joujoux

This is a free translation of part of the book LES JOUJOUX written by Mr. Pierre Calmettes in 1924, he was a painter and man of letters, he wrote a number of books, one of which was about toys, he was not a real toy connoisseur and in his book there are several statements that are not entirely in line with the facts as we now know them, I have tried to adjust that as much as possible in this translation.

It describes the production of the Fernand Martin toys and it follows a toy, the “Les Agents”, from the very beginning to the finished product.

He also discusses the great sales success and the how’s and whys of the later slump in toy sales. Some texts have been adapted or provided with small additions to clarify the text.

The original text in the book LES JOUJOUX is in French.

This article will be published in 5 episodes


Not all metal toys, like the ones we’ve researched, are simple tin bits, cut, stamped, stapled and painted.

There are other toys, the manufacture of which is more complicated and better cared for, which break less easily, and which are preserved even as amusing trinkets; those are the mechanical toys.

When we see them maneuvering and when we see their low price, it seems that these animated toys should be easy to manufacture and devoid of technical difficulties and make those other trinket productions random and narrative.

But when we set ourselves the task of studying their preparation, we find that their manufacture requires patience, research, great ingenuity, the construction of machines, the building of huge factories, and above all the assembly of great capital, In the factories dedicated to toys, we can visit the workshops reserved for ordinary metal toys, in addition, there are the workshops dedicated to toys made of wood, paper or cardboard.

On the contrary, the manufacture of metal mechanical toys is completely occupied by workshops that only deal with these automata toys.

The simplification of the work here is the essential factor for its multiplication.

The workers who work in these workshops always make the same pieces from the same toys.

Some take care of the cutting, others assembling, adjusting, painting or dressing.

This drawing is made by the writer Pierre Calmettes

The toys they make are generally current toys, toys that have to be designed and built in a few days and the construction of which has to use all known industrial resources, mechanics and manuals.

We have all seen, whether on the shelves of the shops or on a Parisian sidewalk presented by the street vendors, these small articulate figures, popular for the diversity they represent and for their selling prices.

The mechanisms that power them are remarkably ingenious, they transmit movements to these toys that imitate people’s gestures so well that we can’t watch them without laughing.

In writing this story about these toys, let’s introduce the reader to the father of these little automata, Mr. Fernand Martin. We thus give a sufficient description, so that we no longer have to worry about their anatomy, the preparation and reunification of the parts that make up the elements.

In Paris, where this toy was born, there is an imposing factory on the old boulevard de Ménilmontant.

When we visited it recently, we remembered our first meeting with the inventor of these automata, which is quite a few years ago at the time of the first Lépine competition in 1901.

This Martin factory had already been founded in 1880 and at our first met all the global success it deserved.

The first toy of Fernand Martin – You can see this fish in the: Toy Museum Soltau in Germany

After his retirement and later his death in 1919, Mr. Fernand Martin left the factory and its inventions to his successors,  so as Mr. Bonnet , with the dual task of running it and expanding it further.

The visit to this factory is very exciting and for those who are interested in toys and want to know the why and the how, they will be able to study the operation of the machines in the workshops.

More sophisticated cutters, punches, mechanics of all sizes and tools of various shapes for the most numerous operations, have to be operated by the skilled hands of workers, and they are entrusted to these workers. all small actions that require the care and patience of the performers.

The workers also all have their own tasks such as welding, melting lead for certain parts and preparing the engines.

When we make a selection of the work that these workers do in the Martin factory, we discover that these automata are built on the basis of anatomical principles and very simple shapes such as the iron frame.

This frame contains the winding spring and the gears of the mechanism.

The frame is topped by a head stamped and painted in brass and placed on wire legs, the arms are also made of wire, the hands and feet are made of iron and lead.

Fabrication is sometimes even simplified by removing the arms and simply gluing a cardboard hand to the end of the floating sleeve.

But before you are interested in assembling the small vending machines, you must first attend the preparation of all the parts,

it starts from the receipt of the raw material on arrival at the factory, its distribution to the different workshops.

The raw material, or rather the raw materials used here are tinplate and black iron, lead, antimony, copper and brass, steel, nickel, silver, the felt, cardboard, paper and various paints.

One of the first operations consists of rolling the black iron, to bring them to the reduced thickness that allows them to be cut.

These are workers who feed the metal sheets under the blades of the rollers and then under the shears that cut them into pieces.

These pieces are the base, they are punched/cut according to the shapes indicated by the model.

The scissors punch/cut hundreds and hundreds of them, on which we can already see the presence of notches or iron tongues, which, by their presence, will allow the solid and rapid assembly of all fragments of ‘automatics’.

When leaving the cutting workshop, the parts go to the stamping workshop.

They all fall into machines that bend, pierce, shape the piece of iron and do in a minute the work that would take at least an hour of manual labor.

The back of a head welded togehter

We stamp the bodies and heads in two parts, the hands with a single wave of the garland and all these pieces are thrown into baskets while waiting to be used.

The pieces of the head are taken to the welders who will put them together two by two, adding the skull to the face.

Read next time further in part 2.

Box labels from Fernand Martin toys better viewed. (updated)

You will usually find the most boxes entirely in the French-language version with an exception for the manual on the box.
On many of these boxes the manual is mentioned in 2 or 3 languages, in French, English and Spanish but there is one box with 4 languages and that is the box of the Les Valseurs from 1885, on the front there is the French text and arround the box there are tree more languages: Spanisch, Englisch and Russian.

Courtesy Bertoia Auctions


I found a catalog label on which the name of the toy is stated in two languages, it is the box of the Le Petit Décrotteur — The Little Blackboot with number 167

There is at least 1 box on which the name of the toy is stated in three languages, it is the box of the laundress number 171

Furthermore, it is known from the Petit Colbuteur with number 213 that three different versions of the box have been issued, but two with a different label and only in French.

The third box with only a stamp

There is also a very different box, it is probably a box specially for the Russian market of the Le Traineau Russe from 1892
The text on the box is partly in Russian. Thanks to a Russian reader I get the translation from this Russian text and that is: “The Russian Sledges. New Mechanical Automatic Toy”

Martin has released at least one box in two different languages.
A French version and a English version and that is quite special.
It is the box of the Petit Livreur number 224

And then there is the addition of “bis” on various boxes next to the number.
If you translate the word “bis”, this means “one more time” or “repetition”
Presumably these toys were produced again in a later period, due to the enormous sales success.
The question is now; this was only done by Martin or also by Martin’s successors.
It is also surprising that most labels with the “bis” addition are also a lot smaller and the boxes are made of a cheaper material.

Of course I don’t know “all” the boxes, so if there are fellow collectors who know other special or different boxes. let me know, preferably with a photo, so that I can research them and use them in a next blog.