Fernand Martin toys “Jouets en Boites”.

This article is published in the June 2023 issue of ANTIQUE TOY WORLD monthly magazine. After publication in the ATW, this article has been slightly modified in a few places

These boxes contain very different toys than we know from Fernand Martin.
At the end of 1900, many toy manufacturers made little figures, mostly from tin/lead, wood, tinplate or a mixture of wood flour and glue, in Germany called “Masse” (such as Elastolin, Lineol etc.).

The smallest Martin figures like the chickens, ducks, goose etc. are made of tin/lead and massive.
The bigger Martin figures like the cows, dogs, sheep, building, fences, persons etc. are made of two kinds of metal, I tested them all with a magnet, the bottom plate is magnetic so tinplate and the figures, animals, etc. are not magnetic.
I think they are made of pewter (a ductile metal alloy of tin and other metals ) and soldered / welded to the bottom plate.
They are not massive but hollow on the inside, which makes them very light and all painted by hand.
These boxes have the Martin number 165 and were produced from 1898.

Number 165:

On this original catalog image are various numbers and texts.
The numbers are clear, what is striking is that number 5 is missing.
The first three numbers are about a village,
From number 4 and 6 till 9 you see behind each number 4 names
The translation of these names in English are : menangeriefarmhunting scene and shepherd.
So there must be a total of 23 different boxes
These boxes are very rare, but I have received two pictures from Frédéric Marchand of a box with a hunting scene.

Pictures courtesy Frédéric Marchand

On the box is also the text “No” but the number is not visible anymore and probably written earlier in pencil and almost completely disappeared in the last more than 120 years.
I tried to “edit” the image and I could very badly discover that there might have been a 7.

In my collection I have a nice group of a shepherd with his sheep and a group of a farmer with animals, both without the box.

This shepherd with his sheep was purchased from a large French toy dealer and he told me that these were determined by Frédéric Marchand as Martins, (Bergerie) but which box number is unknown.
The figures themselves do not have an FM logo or the like and I don’t know if it is complete.
The shepherd is about 7 cm high (2.76 inch) and the farmer is about 5,5 cm high ( 2,17 inch).

Number 166:

Catalog page: Wooden boxes with wooden decorations number 166
This is maybe one of the wooden boxes but not 100% certainty, the box label is gone. The animals and the person visible in the image belong to the Martin figures in this article.

Boxes with wooden and hand painted decorations with number 166.
These boxes with background decorations were sold complete with figures and animals, on the catalog pages is mentioned the text: “Animaux modelés d’après nature”, and that’s translated: “Animals modeled after nature
I count a total of 12 different boxes on the catalog page, but the numbers 20-21-22 and 50-51-52 are still a mystery to me!

But I found a little more.
One of the old original Fermand Martin catalogs contains an image of other boxes with animals and figures.
This box is not numbered in the catalog but is depicted immediately after the box number 165 “Jouets en Boites“.
This box contains figures and animals.
The French text is: Animaux & sujets en vrac. assortis à la grosse and that means: Animals & subjects in bulk. Assorted by the dozen. So they are extension boxes for the boxes with number 165 and 166 “.
According to the picture there are 3 different boxes with each a different assortment.

Extension box: assortment number 2

In this image of the Extension box: assortment number 2, you can also clearly see from the box of the Shepherd (Bergerie) and the box of the Farm (Ferme), the both type of sheep, cow, goat, donkey, dog, farmer and some of the animals from the box Hunting (Chasse) the wild boar, deer, fence and the two dogs.

Published in 2014

The catalog image “Extension box: assortment number 2” is not depicted in the book “Fernand Martin Toymaker in Paris 1878-1912”.
The toys that belonged to the numbers 163 to 166 were not clear to both authors at the time the book was made. ( see their comments on page 101 in this book )

Courtesy Massilia Toys

On an original poster by Fernand Martin from 1902 with a lot of toys from that time, there is an image with 12 pigs, with this image it is stated: Animaux sur cartes (Animals On Card). The card is marked FM in a circle and the well-known triangle with 138. So I assume that there were several different replenishment cards to supplement the boxes, whether these cards were given a separate number is unknown to me until now.

What also appears is that these same figures were probably also used in the articles with the numbers 131 to 143 from 1894.


In the book “Fernand Martin Toymaker in Paris 1878-1912” p. 101-102 the toys that belonged to the numbers 163 to 166 were not clear to both authors at the time the book was made. ( see their comments on page 101 in this book ) This article has brought some clarity, but there is still a lot is unclear.
In this article I present the articles numbered 165 and 166.
In the list of Martin articles in the period 1897 – 1898, there are two numbers left (numbers 163 and 164) of which we do not know for which article these are.
There is a possibility that these two numbers are for the “expansion boxes” and/or for the “animals on card”, but I have no proof of that yet.
Furthermore, the numbering on the original catalog page with article number 166 with the wooden boxes is still unclear.
It appears that many different boxes were sold with many different figures in each box, an enumeration of these is almost impossible.

Perhaps there are more figurines and boxes to be found among collectors.
If you have something like that, please let me know so that the “Martin” puzzle becomes a little more complete.

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