This article is published in the August 2020 issue of the ATW Antique Toy World magazine. https://antiquetoyworld.com/about-atw/ Now with new facts.
This toy maker from Paris made very nice toys.
This manufacturer is named S.I.J.I.M. and the director was Prosper Lévi.
He started his factory in 1909 but the firm ceased to exist in 1913 or 1914.
S.I.J.I.M. means: Société Industrielle de jouets and d’inventions mécaniques.
We know very little about this company, maybe we will find out more in the future and maybe we will find unknown catalogs.
He has not made many different pieces but what he made was beautiful.
Between the S.I.J.I.M. factory and the Fernand Martin factory was in 1912 a lawsuit, this lawsuit was about the Le Rapide Livreur from S.I.J.I.M. and the Petit Livreur from Fernand Martin.
Prosper Lévy from (S.I.J.I.M.) accused Fernand Martin having committed plagiarism.
If you look closely at Lévi’s patent you will see in the header a text in squared brackets.
translation: [ Guarantee certificate delivered to M. Jules Boucheron (of whom Mr. Lévi is assignee) on the occasion of the 10th Lépine Contest of toys and articles de Paris opend in Paris the August 12, 1910]
It just means that Jules Boucheron assigned his invention to Mr. Lévi at the occasion of the 10th Lépine Contest.
This means that Mr Lévi was not the inventor of this toy but that was Jules Boucheron.
Jules Boucheron was a small inventor probably without production opportunities and infrastructure.
Many toy manufacturers including Martin bought the rights from small inventors at the “Concours Lépine”.
In July 1914 Fernand Martin give a statement on the alleged allegations of plagiarism and the resulting lawsuit as mentioned above:
We receive from our colleague, Mr. Fernand Martin, the following note with a request to insert: We are pleased to take that the infringement action brought by Mr. Levi against Mr. F. Martin, for a toy called “The Delivery Person” will not be followed up, Mr. Levi having recognized that it is wrongly and without right gull has assigned Mr. Martin in infringement. For his part, Mr. Martin, in the presence of this declaration, waived his claim for damages. The case is therefore closed.
Martin kept his “Petit Livreur” in production and it was equally produced till in the 1930’s by Victor Bonnet and probably even into the 1950s bye his sons.
The best selling and known toy was the organ grinder: le joueur d’orgue, even till nowadays this is often referred to as a Martin. But you can see on the box and on the catalog page that it is clearly a S.I.J.I.M. toy.
But S.I.J.I.M. has also made less well-known pieces.
See these two pages of a catalog of S.I.J.I.M.
These two pages contain the following toys.
Number 32 La Poussette. (The Stroller)
Number 33 Le Joueur d’orgue. (The Organ Player)
Number 34 Les Chevaux Hygieniques (Hygienic Horses)
Number 35 L’apprenti Cavalier. (The Rider Apprentice)
Number 36 Le Rapide Livreur (The Fast Delivery Man)
I don’t know if more toys are made because it is weird to start with number 32.
There is 1 piece which is probably also made by S.I.J.I.M., it is the Le Saute Mouton. (The leap frog)
This, Le Saute Mouton. (The leap frog), toy was depicted in a magazine from the Choumara Paris store in 1912 together with other S.I.J.I.M. , Martin and other toys.
From 1897 many toy manufacturers place the famous triangle with the text “Article Francais” and around it the text “Marque Deposee” , under the triangle a number, this sign was exclusively granted by the Chambre Syndicale des Fabricants de Jouets to French toymakers who requested it. The number just reflects the order of the request in the sequence of the requests.
So this number was different per manufacturer.
Take a good look at the catalog page, you will also see this triangle by S.I.J.I.M. has been given number 248.
Martin had the number 138, here you can see how important this number could be to find out which manufacturer has produced a toy.
Mr Lévi made his own toys and many toys are in the “style” of the Fernand Martin and Flersheim toys.
And not without success because his models are very beautiful.
Like many toy manufacturers, a lot of ideas was copied from competitors.
As an example, compare the boy in the chair of Martin ( Le jeune ecuyer ) and the one of Lévi (L’apprenti Cavalier) same “idea” but with a different chair position and a different moving action. Who borrowed from whom ??
The mechanisms of these S.I.J.I.M. toys are different from those of Martin, often more sophisticated and of a better quality and therefore more expensive to produce.
However, this did not result in a higher selling price than Fernand Martin/ Flersheim’s toys, but lack of profitability seems to be the reason for the cessation of activity in 1913 or 1914 just before the start of the First World War.
Now most of these S.I.J.I.M. toys are rarer than Martin, Flersheim and Victor Bonnet toys and are traded at very good prices.
A thank you to Frederic Marchand for the permission to use the two catalog pages and the additional information.
All toys with without reference are from my collection