The history of Fernand Martin toy manufacturer in Paris.
Part three: The third Period – Georges Flersheim.
In the most relevant books about Martin are the toys that are made by Martin and his successors divided into four periods.
According to the latest state of insight, these periods might be classified as follows
Period 1 from 1878 – 1894
Period 2 from 1895 – 1912
Period 3 from 1912 – 1919
Period 4 from 1919 – 1933
The 4e period ended in 1933, Victor BONNET & Cie has been adminsitratively dissolved in 1933 some of Victor BONNET & Cie’s assets were transfered to Victor BONNET’s privately held company that had been installed 8, rue des Tourelles in 1923.
The third period from 1912 – 1919:
Georges Flersheim was born on May 24, 1884 and purchased the Fernand Martin factory in 1912.
He was an inventor and held a degree of “Engineer of the Arts and Manufactures“ from the famous school: Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures de Paris
Before he took over the Martin factory, he already had a lot of technical patents to his name.
Between 1909 and 1913 a minimum off 16 patent applications are known or which 4 toy patents.
The first toy patent applications date from April 04, 1912, so shortly after the takeover of the Martin factory.
These toys came from the old Martin portfolios, Martin had bought the design of a few of them at the Concours Lepine and Flersheim patented them under his name.
Flersheim acquired with the company all Martin’s patents.
These 4 Flersheim toy patents are :
458560 La casseuse D’assiette number 233
454178 Chauds les marrons number 227
446331 Le Petit Patineur number 229
444652 Le Motocycliste enragé number 228
Since its creation, the Martin factory has also made and customized products that were not part of our well-known toys. (that we can see an inscriptions on the back cover of the 1898 and the 1908 Fernand Martin catalog which states that the Martin company “executions, based on orders, all articles in stamped or cut tinplate ”)
One of these products is an advertising board “Réclame Mécanique” as you can see in the book Fernand Martin Toymaker in Paris 1878-1912 on page 103.
Georges Flersheim made other products to, he has a patent for a cigarette or cigar case combined with a build-in automatic lighter, this cigarette case has Patent number FR439702, but whether it was ever produced is currently unknown.
And as shown on an advertisement from March 15, 1914 he made razors too, with patent number FR466244.
Pay attention to the FM logo on this ad.
He used the letters FL and EM and between these letters the old “Fm Paris” logo in a circle.
On the ad from the magazin: Excelsior Journal Illustré, you see the old Martin adres but he used the letters FLEM as a brand name.
In addition to being owner of his company, Georges Flersheim was also a reserve Lieutenant of the artillery.
During a demonstration of a shell-launcher, it went wrong.
Georges Flersheim “dead for France” on August 14, 1915, in Woesten, ( a small village in the Belgian province of West Flanders and a part of Vleteren ) following war wounds.
In the French newspaper “Le Temps” from 17 september 1915 number 19795 is this announcement:
“At the age of thirty, we announce the glorious death of the artillery lieutenant Georges Flersheim, killed during experiments at Wippe-Cabaret (Belgium) on August 14.
Very distinguished engineer and the most beautiful future, he was the inventor of a very remarkable bomb-thrower adopted by the army ”
NOTE: Wippe is a neighborhood of Woesten Belgium
In a official French army document of death from the site: Ministere des Armées- Mémoire des Hommes you can find the details.
He is buried in a family grave at the famous Paris cemetery, “Cimetière du Père-Lachaise”.
Many celebrities are buried at this cemetery.
Fernand Martin is also buried in a family grave at this cemetery.
Since Flersheim’s death came so suddenly, what did they produce after his death?
- did they continue to produce with the existing models?
- supplemented with possibly new models designed by Flersheim?
- were old models from the Fernand Martin period, produced again?
Since Georges Flersheim’s death, his mother was the administrator of the business.
But there was certainly some action from the Flersheim factory.
In a publication of the monthly magazine “La France Universelle” in the section “Le Jouet” of April 1, 1917, it is stated that at the 2nd toy exhibition in Lyon, the company Fernand Martin (Georges Flersheim successor) is registered as an exhibitor.
And now two toys that are under discussion:
There is a toy the “Je sonne la paix” with number 246, this toy was an adapted reissue of the 1885 “Le sonneur endiable” by Fernand Martin, and must have been released at the end of the war in November 1918.
On page 167 in the book of Frédéric Marchand: The History of Martin Mechanical Toys there is showing the label and in the book Fernand Martin Toymaker in Paris 1878-1912 there is a box on page 201
Till now, the only reference to this toy was found in the magazine “Le Petit Journal” dec. 17-1919.
The main difference are:
The Martin version (14)
-“FM Systeme Bte S.G.D.G. Paris” is stamped on top/side of the base.
-On the bottom, you see, under the male figure, an elongated piece of iron mounted as a weight
-A rubber band drive.
-The label in the original catalog marked with the FM logo and the triangle
The Flersheim version (246)
-The base plate has no name or logo, there is a piece of fabric on the side with the name “Je Sonne La Paix” printed on it.
-On the bottom a solid plate is soldered and stamped with the round FM logo on it.
-I have seen two different version, with a long spiral spring in the pole and there are versions with the rubber band drive.
-At the top there is a French flag a hollow pipe has been placed in the roof for the iron flagpole with a fabric French flag.
-The roof has been given a slightly different relief.
-The bell has also been given a slightly slender shape.
During the war and afterwards, the toy manufacturers had hard times.
Was the George Flersheim factory able to continue producing? Shortages of supplies and personnel in a shrinking toy market?
The costs for the release of a “new or adapted” toy were also very high, molds had to be made or adapted, a new label must be designed and printed, boxes were made.
Discussion: Is this a officially produced / sold toy by the Flersheim factory?
The pro arguments:
-it looks that it is made with the old Martin molds.
-it is marked with FM. Paris (another manufacturer would never use the FM brand!)
-there is a label, marked with the FM logo and the triangle
-there is a box, marked with the FM logo and the triangle
-there is 1 reference to this toy as found in the magazine “Le Petit Journal” dec. 17-1919.
The counter arguments are:
-who made/designed it. (Georges Flersheim died three years earlier.)
-why has the number 246 been used twice. (Victor Bonnet used it in 1919 for his first toy)
-this toy is not shown anywhere in an original catalog, advertising or the like.
And then there is another debatable toy with the name “French Machine Gun”.
Is it made by George Flersheim ?? many think so, but is that so ??
As can be read on the box, it was brought to the Lépine exhibition and competitions in 1916, so 1 year after the death of George Flersheim, where it won a gold medal.
This toy is not modeled like a Flersheim or Martin toy.
The last complete metal cast toys is the spinning top “Les Valseurs” (the dancing couple) made in 1885.
On the box you see the text: Bréveté & Déposé meens that this product was Patented & Registerd, but till now I can’t find this patent.
It is marked on the box with “Modele F. M. Paris” but this F.M. can also mean something else and like: Fusil Mitrailleur (another name for Mitrailleuse Francaise) and also on the toy or the box are no “Martin/Flersheim” features like the Martin logo that Flersheim still used: the circle with FM, or another logo: the triangle with number 138 in it, and at last the box it is unnumbered and differs a lot from the designs used on the boxes at the time.
I have found no hard evidence so far that this toy belongs to the production of the Flersheim factory.
The story about Flersheim is not over because many discussions and questions remain. As in the current numbering, there will definitely be changes in the future.
We need some help !
During our search for soldiers who are made by Flersheim or Martin, we found this soldier on the site of www.Rubylane.com it was probably sold in January 2015, (the picture is meanwhile removed from the site)
QUESTION: Who sold it or who bought it?
We would like additional information about this toy.
If you can help, Please contact us via the email address below.
Or do you have unknown “Martin, Flersheim or Victor Bonnet” toys, let us hear from you, maybe these are the puzzle pieces we are looking for.
Many thanks with the help and texts I received from Francois Mesqui.
All toys without reference are from my collection
To be continued