The Fernand Martin “Les Pompiers” from 1887

A very early toy that Martin made were two firefighters with a fire sprayer, which reflects the state of the art of firefighting at the time.

courtesy Michael Bartoia auctions

A fire sprayer had already been granted a patent in 1614, but the first well-functioning model comes from the Dutchman Jan van der Heiden in 1672 with a hose fire sprayer.
This type of fire sprayers was sometimes used until the Second World War (WWII)
Large heavy pumps used to be pulled by horses and the smaller models were pulled by firefighters themselves.

Foto with permission of BHIC ( Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum ) s’Hertogenbosch the Netherlands, fotonumber BCV2538

The fire sprayer can be compared to a wooden, red-copper or metal tub / container in which a hand pump with a nozzle is attached.
Although this type of fire sprayer delivered a constant flow of water, it had the disadvantage that it had to be filled with buckets.
There is also a type that could itself suck water from a canal or ditch.
Because the hose could not be too long, it had to be placed close to the fire, which of course was dangerous for firefighters and equipment.

Foto with permission of Vincent Martin

Now about the toy model.
Dimensions: Height 16 cm (6-1/4 inch) Length 14 cm (5-1/2 inch).
At the bottom of the storage tank, you can connect a hose.
If you look at the drawing you will see an “A” at the bottom, that’s the wind-up key.
After being wind up, you place this toy on the table.
I don’t know if you have to fill it with water or put it in a little tub with water.
Filling seems unlikely to me because the container due to the mounting tabs it would leak everywhere.
Sucking up seems more likely to me, the water can then be sucked up through the pipe at the bottom.

With permission of GAGoes, municipal archive Wolphaartsdijk.

On the drawings in the catalog and the drawing on the box you see an extra pipe drawn, the water could be sucked through this pipe, on the actual toy you can no longer see this pipe but it can be integrated into the thick pipe where the wind-up mechanism is located.
Both figures then move up and down and thus pump the water away through the hose.

In this small old drawing it seems that the toy is probably partially in the water up to about the plateau on which the two firefighters stand.

Here above an image from the original Fernand Martin catalog 1898
Compare this image with the image on the lid of the original box and you will see some differences.

If you look very closely you will see the next differences:
  1- The two corners of the catalog image are not richly decorated.
  2- On the box label there is no “triangle with number 138”
  3- On the box label there are no dates of various gold medals that Martin has won
4- On the catalog image the net and gross weights are stated below the image.
  5- On the left of the catalog image is the text “Made In France”.
  6- The catalog image is numberd with number 105, (but more about this number in one of the following blogs).

A very rare and hard-to-find toy, the box is even rarer to find.
The piece with the box on the first photo was sold at the Bertoia auction on May 9, 2019 for $ 8000 without the auction surcharge.

Note: With my approval, a part of this blog has been adapted and published by the BHIC. See the link:

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