French 1920s & 1930s promotional automotive toys by Citroen & Peugeot



Inside this little wall-hugging display showcase is an assortment of little die-cast toys rarely seen outside France.
On the top shelf are a pair of tractors and several Latil trucks by AR, manufactured in 1927 or later.
Below are more Latil trucks and a camouflaged tank also by AR. The tank at right is by DC (Charles Domage) while the one between those two is likely by SR, but we are still searching that.

Andre Citroen and his Citroen company was the first in the world to understand the importance of promotional toys to prepare the children of his customers as potential buyers of his products once grown up. This led to some truly beautiful large tinplate as well as smaller inexpensive models made of lead, then painted "au pochoir", meaning sprayed with masks loosely applied, resulting in charming overspray. The Citroen lead toys are today very rare. The first series was one of six 1924 "B14" models. The models appear to be in the 1/45 scale, close to model-train "O" gauge. They were likely produced by the DC or CD company of Charles Domage. CD produced many lead toys of Delahaye, Chenard & Walcker and other rather rare French automobiles from the 1920s and 1930s.
In the late 1930s, CD changed its name to Aludo and produced aluminum toys until the middle of the 1950s.


The Peugeot brothers were quick to respond and by 1928 had toys of their own, often with markings on their roof depicting the technical advantages of their full-size cars. Most of their models were in the 1/43 scale or "O" gauge, and manufactured by A.R. (Autajon & Roustan) in their works on Avenue de Menilmontant, in Paris.


Lead casting was used for toys well before, namely by French and American toy and novelties companies such as the Dowst Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois, as well as the French AR, CD, CBG Mignot and SR (Simon & Rivollet).


Pictured below:



These little Citroen models are of the Limousine and Town Car. The town car driver is a small model train figure in painted lead by MR, an obscure French model train manufacturer. The trees in the background are by CBG Mignot, a famous French toy-soldier manufacturer, and are also cast in lead, then hand painted.

Two more Citroen B14, the stake truck ("camion a ridelles") loaded here with a Meccano trunk from a Hornby O-gauge accessory set and a 2-door "convertible coupe". More model-train figures and a mysterious city rat are on hand to observe, on front of a period postcard describing a cafe-bar.




Another B14 is this Torpedo (open 4-seat roadster) on front of a food store. The American WW1 soldier forgot to take the boat back home. The road marker is by Quiralu and is molded in aluminum, then hand painted. Quiralu and Aludo (the former CD business owned by Charles Domage) were the world's pioneers in cast-aluminum toys. The markers were supplied on all French roads by Andre Michelin, the owner of the famous rubber tire company. They were on virtually all French roads well into the 1970s and were called "bornes kilometriques" (mile markers).



Below left:
Another form of Citroen promotional toys were these small "platre et farine" (plaster & flour) models, with lead-cast wheels. here we have two of the "Petite Rosalie" record car. These inexpensive toys were quite crude but very charming. The decals are the Citroen emblem, a swan with two chevrons. They exist in many variation of color and decor.

Below right:
Meanwhile, a lot is going on in this little showcase, as these very nice (and very accurate) German soft-paste ceramic dolls are checking things out in the buff, while curious penguins by Britains came to shore to find out who is invading their nesting grounds.





The AR manufacturing concern made these little "201" roadsters for Peugeot. They were direct copies of the American Tootsietoy "GM series" vehicles, a clear violation of the Dowst patents. They were cast with a greater precision than their American counterparts.


Peugeot got more serious with the following 1/43 scale series of "201" and "301" models, using a tinplate chassis with independent front wheels to promote their full-size vehicles. At right are three examples in the midst of confusing Quiralu signs...


Below left:
The Peugeot 301 model bearing its technical advance, that of having an independent front suspension instead of the then common solid front axle beam.





Two really rare 1/43 scale Peugeot promos: the A.R. "601 Coach" and the DC "302" streamlined sedan. Both models use a separate chassis, cast in lead for the 601, stamped from painted tinplate for the 302. The lead-cast wheels are shod with rubber tires, and the models have separate grilles that are nickel plated. AR also made a 3-window "402B" model in 1939.




Above left: the very beautiful AR Peugeot "402 coach "Fuseau Sochaux" was a model of the 402 coupe. The model features a wind-up motor, tinplate chassis with front suspension and rubber tires.

AR also made a model of the 402 "Darl'Mat" roadster, a car built by one of Peugeot largest dealers in Paris. The Peugeot Darl'Mat won the 2-liter class at the 1938 Le Mans 24-hour race, beating the German Adler cars.

AR stands for Autajon & Roustan, a French company that was deeply involved with Peugeot. On the picture at right, you can see the two "Streamlined" Peugeots in the collection, the 1935 "601 Coach" and the 1936 "402 Coach". The third model in the center is the 1936 "302 Berline" by DC (Domage & Cie). Recently added to the collection is the 1937 "802 Andreau", a streamlined show car with a large fin in the center of its tail section using the prototype of the Peugeot V8 engine. The "402 Darl'Mat" roadster is missing as well as the rarest of all AR toys, the 1937 "402 Limousine".





The scarce AR Peugeot 601 was issued by the French company in collaboration with Peugeot at the same time the real car was introduced in 1935. This "Coach" body received a 2.2-liter inline 6-cylinder engine and was a robust, rapid car in the day. The AR model accentuates the length of the hood in a marvelous fashion, similar to that of the period Peugeot catalogs. The model has a gray painted tinplate chassis that provides a suspension, many years before Solido re-introduced the idea but using coil springs in the late 1950s. The lead casting is rather nice and precise and the separate grille is nickel plated. This model also existed in two-tone red and two-tone blue.  


The design of the 1935 Peugeot 402 was strongly inspired by that of the 1934 Chrysler Airflow. The successful French car was produced in many body variations, including this 2-door "Coach". The new Peugeot line was called "Fuseau Sochaux" or "Streamliner from the city of Sochaux" where the Peugeot cars were built. The AR model is the most precise of all the lead castings produced by the company, with a beautiful painted grille that included the hole for the emergency crank. This is of course one of the most desirable 1/43 scale pre-war die-cast models in the world, and few are known to have survived the war and the kids.     The tinplate base retains the rear axle and the windup motor also used on other AR toys such as their Bluebird record car. The front wheels are independently suspended and retained by another piece of stamped steel attached to the rivet holding the grille. As you can see, the front tires are perished and will unfortunately need suitable replacements. We are looking for the "right stuff" before we do this. The spare wheel cover has raised letters promoting the Peugeot styling, that was named "Fuseau Sochaux". The toy is extremely attractive and a favorite of many visitors.


  The perished tires have since been replaced by the closest aged tires we could find in the spare parts box.






The ultra-rare DC Peugeot 302 was issued in 1935. Also patterned after the Chrysler Airflow design, the rear wheel arches features a stylized lion, the Peugeot emblem. The wheels were rather plain affairs and the quality of the model is nowhere near as nice as that of the A.R. 402. The grille does not sport the Peugeot emblem but the spare wheel cover is inscribed with "302 Peugeot" in raised letters. The tinplate chassis provides the usual suspension and is engraved with "fuel consumption regulator" but there is no windup motor on this model. The tires are still in good condition.


  Three earlier AR Peugeot models of the "201" and "301", her eon the beach with two young things molded in Germany in soft-paste ceramic in the early 1920s, "au naturel".
The red and cream model, as well as the blue and black one, are "201" from 1930, while the green "301" was made in 1931.
This particular base plate appears to have had better days and was apparently straightened at one time. Obviously it will require a bit more professional repair to return it to a decent condition.



This Peugeot 201 is probably the earliest type as it does not have the later tin base plate. Its axles loop through holes in the lead casting. The toy is clearly identified as an AR model. The grille is a separate casting and is riveted to the main body. As in the Tootsietoy models from which the AR toys were inspired, the axles ends are pinched to retain the plain lead wheels. The grille does not figure a Peugeot emblem but the car is unmistakably a 201.  
  The front bumper is missing on this model. The paint was applied by spraying for the main color, but the chassis was then brushed with black paint. We have seen enough samples to believe that it was indeed done at the factory and not by a subsequent owner.




  This "201" is a much evolved model, with raised letters on its roof claiming the new Peugeot 201 main virtue, that of having independent front wheels in a day where even the Bugatti had a solid front axle. it appears to be made in the same, but modified mold of the blue car and at a later date. The paint is more sophisticated and is now all sprayed. The radiator grille is new and now modeled after a correct Peugeot pattern complete with emblem but no "Peugeot lion". regardless, quite a handsome, if somewhat crude,  model of the very popular little car.   Part of the front bumper on the driver side is missing. The radiator grille is also missing a headlight, so life was a bit busy for this rare survivor. New on this model was the painted steel tinplate base that offered an actual suspension to the toy. It was retained by another piece of stamped steel riveted with the grille onto the main body casting. The wheels appear to be the same as on the blue model.


  The 1931 "301" was a larger sedan with more luxurious features. AR issued this toy with the now familiar roof markings. it appears to be the same body tooling as the 201 but with a new mold insert for the more modern engine cowling. The trunk has also been enlarged and a spare wheel added.



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