Visit to a unique museum with a huge collection of Fernand Martin toys

A short report of the festivities surrounding the “Stiftungs- und Museumsfest” of the Spielmuseum on June 10-12 in the city of Soltau in Germany.

The festivities were spread over three museums, the main building of the toy museum, the annex of the toy museum with the Fernand Martin toys and Felto Filzwelt, the felt museum where you can see the history of felt production and processing and where a large collection of felt toys from Steiff placed in a huge Panorama display case.

Main Building of the toy museum

On Saturday day 2 we attended a lecture especially on dollhouses by Mrs. Elisabeth Lewe, a collector and specialist in dollhouses.
For those interested in Martin toys, the Fernand Martin’s collection of this museum was especially in the spotlight on Sunday day 3.

On Sunday morning I was able to give a lecture myself especially about the Fernand Martin collection and the collecting life of Arthur Verdoorn and of course our mutual friend Lourens Bas was not forgotten. (Arthur and Lourens are the makers of the well-known Fernand Martin book )

Arthur had his own private museum next to his house and that museum was filled with several thousand pieces of antique toys.

During his life Arthur had already determined that his entire collection had to be properly housed and after a long search and with good consultation this became the Spielmuseum in Soltau.

Arthur Verdoorn’s collection consisted not only of Fernand Martin toys, but also included all kinds and makes of antique toys, mainly from Europe and America and ranging from wooden, cast iron, paper, lithographed tin, hand-lacquered tin, etcetera.

The Ernst family, founder of the museum, have gone out of their way to properly house the collection, which has also resulted that they rent an old existing building with a large retail space directly across the street from their existing main building.
The majority of Arthur’s collection is housed in this adjoining building, with a special section containing Fernand Martin’s toys.
This department has been given the name “Petit Paris”.

This collection is still being expanded with new acquisitions and is therefore probably the largest Martin collection currently housed in a public museum.
The toys are not statically arranged but playful like Arthur had it in his own museum.

Mathias and Antje Ernst have put a lot of effort into making it a beautiful whole.
Photos speak louder than words and that is why I quickly took some photos during our stay, some of which I have depicted in this report so that everyone can see what I mean, but you must of course have been there yourself to taste the atmosphere.
Also included are a few screens showing a number of Martin toys working.

Central to “Petit Paris” is an advertising column, recreated after the model of the old advertising columns as they stood in Paris around 1900, in and on this column is information, toys and secret doors hidden behind toys.
For information, opening times, etc. see:

There is much more to see than just Fernand Martin toys

If you have the opportunity to visit this toy museum with its two buildings, you will never regret it, even “not” Martin collectors will enjoy, this visit can also be combined with a combination entrance ticket for a visit to the felt museum Felto, located directly in the vicinity of the toy museum.

1 main building toy museum, 2 annex of the toy museum, 3 Felto Filzwelt,

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