Dinky toys auc­tion for top prices

Bid­ders vie for rare pieces at lo­cal auc­tion­eer

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - BRIAN BAS­SETT

RE­MEM­BER the die-cast repli­cas of just about ev­ery kind of ve­hi­cle you used to play with as a child?

In my day the small ve­hi­cles cost R2,50 and the big­ger cars, trucks and mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles could cost up to R8,50 — big money in those days.

Lit­tle did any of us re­alise that we were play­ing with items that re­lated to the so­cial history of toy mak­ing, and that would one day be­come valu­able col­lecta­bles. Frank Hornby, the orig­i­na­tor of Dinky toys, es­tab­lished Mec­cano in 1901 to man­u­fac­ture me­tal erec­tor con­struc­tion kits. He soon ex­panded into 0-gauge train sets and in 1934 in­tro­duced Mec­cano Dinky Toys.

The name Dinky sup­pos­edly com­ing from a nick­name of one of his daugh­ters. The name was ab­bre­vi­ated to Dinky Toy in 1935 and from there on un­til 1971 Hornby made hun­dreds of die-cast mod­els of al­most ev­ery kind of ve­hi­cle avail­able.

Match­box, Tri­ang and toy gi­ant Mat­tel later joined the fray.

Un­for­tu­nately for chil­dren, but for­tu­nately for col­lec­tors, chang­ing fash­ions in toys and ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs in first-world coun­tries led to the demise of Dinky toys, although some die-cast mod­els are still avail­able at a larger scale.

The end of their pro­duc­tion and boy’s nat­u­ral de­struc­tive habits meant Dinky toys soon be­came scarce — the key word for any in­vestor — and col­lect­ing Dinky toys soon be­came an ob­ses­sion with mil­lions of col­lec­tors world­wide.

While in Eng­land the mar­ket is sat­u­rated and prices rel­a­tively low, fewer Dinky toys sold lo­cally, which means com­pe­ti­tion for the die-cast toys is fierce and prices have gone through the roof.

If you are lucky enough to have been left a pre­war Dinky toy, boxed and in good con­di­tion, you could prob­a­bly sell it on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket for a six-fig­ure sum.

A few of the rarer early Dinkys have fetched sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand pounds. Post-war ve­hi­cles, whether they be trucks, buses or cars, or in­deed any of the wide range of ve­hi­cles man­u­fac­tured, have be­come very pricey.

At Cannon’s Auc­tion House in Hil­ton, David Cannon, has re­cently been selling a col­lec­tion of Dinkys, which he has wisely di­vided into sev­eral batches. I spoke to Cannon’s cat­a­loguer Sue Killeen, who told me that the toys were fetch­ing prices way be­yond their es­ti­mates.

For ex­am­ple two 1950s boxed ex­am­ples of Dinky Su­per Toy se­ries, namely a Fo­den Flat Bed Truck and a Bed­ford ar­tic­u­lated lorry as well as an un­boxed Avel­ing Bar­ford steam roller, es­ti­mated to fetch be­tween R500 and R800, fetched R4 000 once the bid­ding dust set­tled.

Sev­eral other mod­els, also val­ued in the hun­dreds of rand, in­stead fetched thou­sands un­der the ham­mer.

Be­fore you rush out to your garage to see whether the die-cast toys you bought your kids in the 1970s and 80s are still there, make a note that the next Cannon’s auc­tion fea­tur­ing a fur­ther in­stal­ment of Dinkys takes place on Septem­ber 29 start­ing at 9 am.

Apart from the Dinky toys, this batch in­cludes sev­eral Les­ney match­box cars and tiny World War 2 mo­tor­bikes.

‘Toys es­ti­mated to fetch be­tween R500 and R800, fetched R4 000’

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Sue Killeen at Cannon’s Auc­tion­eers busy pre­par­ing the toy cat­a­logue for the next batch of Dinky Toys that will go un­der the ham­mer on Tues­day, Septem­ber 29.

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