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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
249 Le Roulant
This model is very very rare.
I’ve only come across a few of them.
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
The characteristic of this model is that there is a print on the bottom of the cargo area with the name and product number.
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.
254 Le Train Tortillard
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.
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
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”.
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.
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”.
“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.
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. http://louisrenault.com/ )
Picture: Les Camions Renault 1928 is from Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/public_domain )