According to the Martin book: Fernand Martin Toymaker in Paris. page 110 there are two versions of the L’ homme de corvée, Martin number 173, in the text on this page it is not clear why they differ. They both have different clothes and a different cap
This toy is mentioned in a French newspaper from 1900 and in the text in this newspaper it is mentioned that there are a French soldier and an English sailor.
Part of the text from the article: LES JOUETS DE L’ANNÉE in the French newspaper: Le Patriote de la Vendée 1900, Journal de Politique, Agricole et Commercial, Organe d’union Républicaine.
Translation: Then it is the “L’ homme de corvée”, a small French soldier or English sailor, depending on the country of destination, who operates a broom
I found another article in the magazine: La Charente December 18, 1900 indicating that the English sailor toy was produced especially for the English market.
a part of the text of that article:
Les Jouets Du Nouvel An
–Then there is – the “L’ homme de corvée” – a small English sailor or an French soldier, who operates a broom, the name depending on the country of destination.–
A catalog page /box label is known. It is also not known if two different boxes were released or if they were both sold in the same box, I presume in the same box as the instructions for use are written on this label are in French, English and Spanish.
Photos courtesy Bertoia Auctions, Catalog label and postcard are from my own collection. French newspaper article source gallica.bnf.fr: Le Patriote de la Vendée 1900, Journal de Politique, Agricole et Commercial, Organe d’union Républicaine