In the past, competitors have also made imitations / look a likes of the toys of Fernand Martin.
The names of the manufacturers are not always known because they were mostly small firms.
The last known imitations are fairly recent and from the Spanish Paya and are clearly recognizable.
Paya has made 10 imitations, luckily these are very recognizable as being. Example: the hairdresser, the drunkard, the judge, the conductor etc.
But older imitations are more difficult to recognize, are also on the market.
You can see it most clearly in the shape of the key. (see my older blog about the Martin keys : Different Fernand Martin keys from June 28, 2019
But also the location of the key, with Martin the key is usually (not always) on the left side of the toy body, when you look at the toy with the face facing you, so on the right side.
So if there is a key on the other side or at the back then you have to be careful.
And of course the face is not what you can expect from a real Martin toy.
You see above some examples of imitations of the Le Violonist and the Le Pochard.
Look special to the face from these imitations and you can see exactly what I mean by that.
Sometimes these imitations have in the course of time received original parts from real Martins such as the bottle, a head or the clothes.
And then the question: What happened to the original production molds, were they destroyed or did they end up in the hands of companies that turned them into “Martins” again?
One imitation of the Le Pochard even received an original Martin box.
But there are also various “look a likes” from the fireman, from Günthermann Gama. and others.
Gama has a very clear start-stop trade on his back, a connection between the hands and another ladder on wheels.
The Günthermann can be recognized by:
-a short tube under his left elbow
-model of the key
-the plate on the ladder with imitation flames
-the shape of the freestanding support of the ladder.
As I said before, there are many more imitations that are sold as Martins, so stay allert and pay attention.
An imitation doesn’t have to be ugly, if you like it that’s fine, buy it and enjoy it.
Continued in part two next week
All photos are from my own collection or courtesy of Michael Bertoia Autions