Toys, Planes and Automobiles

A Corgi Toys No. 261 James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 with diorama box, two bandits, secret instructions and envelope
A Corgi Toys No. 261 James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 with diorama box, two bandits, secret instructions and envelope

As Christmas approaches, across the county trees are brought in, cakes iced, turkeys ordered and Carols sung. Parents search toy shops and online to find this year’s must have toy. The excitement of receiving a new toy at Christmas has never changed over the generations.

This week I’m in the company of Chris Gale. We have been friends and worked together for some 32 years. Chris, a talented valuer and auctioneer, is also a gifted specialist in collectable toys.

Alongside the Queen’s Christmas message many families will have gathered to watch the Christmas James Bond film.

Our conversation turns to Aston Martins and James Bond. Chris reminisces and says “I saw Goldfinger at the old ABC cinema in Horsham when I was seven or eight years old. A friend of mine had a Corgi Toys James Bond Aston Martin DB5 and I managed to lose the bandit from the ejector seat.”

I remark that beyond their aesthetic appeal people collect toys because they are so evocative of childhood memories, Chris agrees.

On the shelves of the toy department is a Corgi Toys No. 261 James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 with its diorama box, two bandits and secret instructions which has just sold for £130 in Toovey’s Christmas Toy sale. Chris explains “It was released in October 1965 just over a year after the film Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery and the Aston Martin DB5, was released. The reason for the gold finish on the car was that whilst Corgi had gold paint the silver hadn’t been developed. They sold more than 100,000 in only the first few weeks and they made nearly four million of them.”

Chris reveals how Corgi Toys was owned by Mettoy. It came into being in 1956. The Corgi range was produced in Swansea, hence the Welsh Corgi dog logo and name.

A boxed Britains No. 1656 Railton New Wonder Car with separate chassis
A boxed Britains No. 1656 Railton New Wonder Car with separate chassis

But children of earlier generations also delighted in toy cars and planes. Chris shows me a beautifully made Britains No. 1656 Railton New Wonder Car with separate chassis and its original box which made £220. Chris puts the toy into context “John Cobb’s Railton won the Land Speed Record three times over many years in competition with Captain George Eyston’s Thunderbird.”

Seven Dinky Toys post-war model racing cars
Seven Dinky Toys post-war model racing cars

Chris shows me a collection of Dinky post-war racing cars which have just realised £220 and comments “After the Second World War people wanted to get back to motor racing and Dinky toys were not far behind them with this range of model racing cars. Here you have some of the most famous racing marques of the era including a Cooper-Bristol, an HWM, a Ferrari, an Alfa Romeo, a Talbot Lago and a Lotus.”

A Dinky Toys No. 704 Avro York air liner 'G-AGJC'
A Dinky Toys No. 704 Avro York air liner ‘G-AGJC’

Finally we turn to the Dinky Toys No. 704 Avro York air liner ‘G-AGJC’ from 1946 which, with its box, made £75. Chris describes how this plane was part of a large range produced by Dinky Meccano before and after the war.

Chris Gale already has some exciting entries for his next specialist Toy sale to be held at Toovey’s on Tuesday 21st March 2017. If you would like Chris’ advice email or telephone 01903 891955.

No doubt these toys are going to make some grown-up boys and girls very happy this Christmas. Best of luck with your Christmas shopping!

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Dinky Toy Vehicles for Sale at Toovey’s Auction

Dinky Toys 'Weetabix' Guy Van No. 514 at Toovey's
Dinky Toys 'Weetabix' Guy Van No. 514 at Toovey's

Just weeks after the introduction of driving tests in Great Britain, the No. 23a racing car became the first model vehicle to bear the brand Dinky Toys when it rolled off the production line in April 1934. However, the history of this household name of toy manufacturing already had its foundations firmly laid prior to the production of this little car. Meccano had been produced at the same Liverpool factory since the early 1900s, created by toy pioneer Frank Hornby. In Mike and Sue Richardson’s book Dinky Toys & Modelled Miniatures 1931-1979, Hornby is described as:

Tooveys Lot 3009 Dinky Toys
Dinky Toys No. 505 Foden Flat Truck with Chains, boxed. £150-250

“A man in the great English tradition of entrepreneur and inventor mixed with a Scottish trait of emphasis on sound educational values and improvement of the mind. He was a true turn-of-the-century Briton…”

Tooveys Lot 3012 Dinky Toys
Dinky Toys No. 531 Leyland Comet Lorry, boxed. £100-150
Tooveys Lot 3057 Dinky Supertoys
Dinky Supertoys No. 918 'Ever Ready' Guy van, boxed. £100-150

Not content with creating a best-selling construction toy, Hornby continued on the logical path from Meccano to develop a new product in the form of an ‘O’ gauge train set, intended to rival the tinplate tradition of Germany (see an earlier blog post on Bing tinplate toys by clicking here). Since the 1920s these trains have been the inventor’s namesake. Quickly realising that the toy train enthusiast wanted to make their railway layouts as realistic as possible, various accessories were added to production. Meccano Limited expanded their output to include a range of vehicles to accompany the ‘O’ gauge series, perhaps influenced by the arrival of the American ‘Tootsie Toy’ vehicles. This first group of six vehicles did not bear the Dinky Toy name but were instead called Hornby Series ‘Modelled Miniatures’. Toovey’s sold two of these early Modelled Miniatures in our specialist auction of Toys on 25th March 2014. No. 22a an open sports car, finished in red and cream, sold for £100, and No. 22b a sports coupe, finished in yellow and green, sold for £380. They are particularly prized among collectors as they are still deemed among the first Dinky Toys, despite the different branding. Hornby soon dismissed ‘Modelled Miniatures’ and ‘Meccano Miniatures’ in favour of the more catchy ‘Dinky Toys’. From then on, generations of children enjoyed playing with ‘Dinkies’. Dinky derives from the Scottish and literally means attractively small and neat, a perfectly apt description of the vehicles produced by the firm.

Tooveys Lot 3058 Dinky Supertoys
Dinky Supertoys No. 942 'Regent' Foden 14-ton tanker, boxed. £100-150
Tooveys Lot 3059 Dinky Supertoys
Dinky Supertoys No. 934 Leyland Octopus wagon, boxed. £100-150

The Second World War halted production of toys at the ‘Binns Road’ factory in Liverpool with attention turning to war work. They even raised funds for a ‘Meccano’ Spitfire by creating a special pendant to purchase the aircraft. Immediately after the war, the government insisted on Meccano focusing on their export market to help pay off the war debt. It was after the war years that Dinky Toys really enjoyed a renaissance period. In 1947 Dinky ‘Supertoys’ were launched to great success. Dinky Supertoys were a larger scale than that previously offered and were produced for nearly two decades. The entire range of Dinky vehicles included planes, military vehicles, cars, vans and lorries. In their striking boxes and bold colours, these are as prized among collectors today as they were coveted by children of the day. The brand enjoyed great success until the Liverpool factory closed its doors in November 1979. The brand name was later purchased by Matchbox but, after various mergers, it was eventually swallowed up by Mattel’s ‘Hot Wheels’ brand.

Toovey’s forthcoming specialist auction of Toys, Dolls and Games on 15th July 2014 features the usual fantastic selection of Dinky Toys and other die-cast metal vehicles.  Among the offerings in the auction is this post-war Dinky Toys No. 514 ‘Weetabix’ Guy van with first type cab and second type wheels. Offered with the all-important original box, it carries a pre-sale estimate of £300-500. A good selection of other Dinky Toys and Dinky Supertoys vehicles included in the sale are also illustrated.

Viewing for the sale is on Saturday 12th July between 9.30am and 12 noon; Monday 14th July between 10am and 4pm; and on the day of the auction, Tuesday 15th July, between 10am and 1pm. The auction commences at 1.30pm. Click here to view the online catalogue.