Fernand Martin “Le Livreur” From 1888 (2020 article revised)

A very early Martin with the name: Le Livreur (the delivery guy)
Made from 1888
Product number 108
Length 15.6cm / 6.14in
This was probably the most successful Martin ever.

Photo courtesy of RSL auctions

The history that preceded this:
Due to an article in the American “The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office” of October 20, 1885 on page 352, I came across the patent number 6470 of a “mechanical toy animal figure” .
I started searching further and it turned out to be an English patent.
In 1884 there was the Englishman Mr. William Hamilton Hall, 72 Denmark Villas, West Brighton, he was an inventor / toy manufacturer.
He filed a patent in England in April 17, 1884 under number GB 6470
The patent was filed under the name: “Improvements in Mechanical Toy Animal Figures”.
An extensive correction followed on January 26, 1885.
The Complete Specification was dated January 16, 1885, and it contains 7 pages of text and 3 pages of drawings.
The patent was directly applied for in several countries.
Here is an overview of the countries now known:
United States October 20, 1885 patent number 328912
France July 4, 1884, patent number 163149
Belgium March 28, 1885 patent number 68347
Austria December 4, 1884, patent number 34162
Hungary December 4, 1884, patent number 56714
Germany July 1, 1884, patent number 29806
England April 17, 1884, patent number 6470

Part of the discription from William Hamilton Hall with the US patent 328.912 from the “ The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office “ The patent numbers and patent dates in different countries

The British Library Business & IP Center 96 Euston Road London make the patents available with explanation and images.

Part of the discription from William Hamilton Hall with the US patent 328.912 on this drawing you see a crank-shaft Y between the wheels of the cart and two connecting-rods X from the crank-shaft Y to the legs.

I found in David Pressland’s beautiful book “Pressland’s Blechspielzeug Der Welt” from 1995 and published by “AS Verlag Zürich” on page 241 a photo of a toy with his original box, the box appears, after further investigation, to have patent number 6470 and this is exactly the toy patent number from William Hamilton Hall produced from 1884, but are the box and toy on the photo from Hall?

Thanks to David Pressland’s that i may use this picture from his beautiful book “Pressland’s Blechspielzeug Der Welt” from 1995 , published by AS Verlag Zürich

I had a toy as on the picture from David Pressland book in my collection myself that looks like Martins “Le Livreur” but until now I do not know who the manufacturer is. As seen on the picture there is no crank-shaft between the wheels of the cart and there are no connecting-rods from the cart to the legs as seen on the Patent drawing above, Martin replaced that with a flywheel. Is this Hall’s “automatic postman” ?

Is it possible that Hall later adapted his toys, because they might have been cheaper and worked better, to Martin’s construction?”, yes that is possible, but he would have infringed Martin’s patent.
Or vice versa, Martin’s patent wouldn’t have been valid, if an instantiation of his invention had been commercially available.

I think that Martin study the Hall patent and he thought this was a wonderful toy and saw the business benefits.
But he had other thoughts about the mechanism and he applied for an “improved” patent for this type of toy.

In the book Fernand Martin Toymaker in Paris 1878-1912 it is stated on page 33 (with the wrong product number 22) that the story of the Le Livreur started with patent 75632 (printing error they meant 15632) on November 15, 1887 (this date will be reflected in the further story) but the story started with the William Hamilton Hill patent 6470 from April 17, 1884 in England so 3 years earlier.

Martin made improvements and on November 15, 1887 applied for a patent in England under the name “Improvements in Device or Mechanism for Communicating to Toys Movements Analogous to those of Human Beings and Animals when Walking.” and it get patent number 15632
The patent was reprinted as it was amended and quotes the following dates:
Date of Application: November 15, 1887,
Complete Specification Left (at the Patent Office,) May 09, 1888
Complete Specification Accepted July 27, 1888.
The patent contains 6 pages and includes 1 page with 4 drawings.

There are notable difference of Hall’s and Martin’s patents.
This is why “improvement” in Martin’s patent title takes its full sense, is that he eliminated the need for the crank-shaft between the wheels of the cart and the connecting-rods from the cart to the legs and replaced that with a flywheel.
He very smartly achieves it with the gripping of the heel of the supporting foot.
It therefore makes the cranked axle-tree easier to bend and the overall toy more reliable and simultaneously less expensive (less parts, less assembly time).

First page of the Fernand Martin patent GB 15632
Page 6 with the 4 drawings patent GB 15632. Here you can see the flywheel inside the cart.

Regarding the Hall and Martin patent, Martin explains a few things on page 5 of his English patent.

Martin wrote the following text:

Having now specifically described and ascertained the nature of my said invention and in what manner the same is to be performed I declare that I am aware of Hall’s Specification No. 6470 AD 1884 and I make no claim to anything described and claimed therein, but what I claim is:
A kind of toy with a miniature figure (preferably of a man) the legs of whitch imitate the natural movements of walking by the combined action of a motor vehicle having a continuous translation motion and abutting point placing itself alternately on any suitable surface, in such manner that retaining one leg an instant on the ground and the movement of translation continuing this abutting point forces the leg in contact with the ground to incline itself thus giving a movement similar but in the reverse sense to the second leg with which it is connected by a bent or cranked axle.

About the same time, Martin also applied on November 12, 1887 for this patent in France, where it was given the number 186948.
See more in my other blog from August 15 2019:


But so far, all Martin copies and boxes found have the patent number 15632, so the English patent number.
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.

Top of the Martin cart

Fernand Martin and E.P. Lehmann turned out to be good business colleagues and Lehmann also saw something in this toy.
Lehmann was allowed to use this patent against payment of 5 francs per 144 (12 dozen) pieces sold.
The success was enormous and within 8 months Lehmann came to Martin with a payment of 5000 francs, so 144.000 of the Lehmann “Express” EPL number 140, had already been sold up to that point.

Back of the Lehmann cart

On the back of the Lehmann Express (the copy of the Martin Le Livreur) , the text is Engl.Patent without a patent number.

A toy and his box :

Thanks for being allowed to use the photo’s: Left “Le Livreur” Photo courtesy of Pook&Pook auctioneers, above right the “Lehmann Express” Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions, right under the Hall ? toy Photo courtesy of David Pressland

Take a good look at the boxes from Martin, Lehmann and Hall ? , they are very similar.

The success of the collaboration between F. Martin and E.P. Lehmann was expanded with several Martins, of which Lehmann was allowed to use the patents and were also allowed to be manufactured.

With special thanks to:
The British Library. Business & IP Center. 96 Euston Road. London
To make the patents available with explanation and images.

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