Collecting TINPLATE TOYS with Percy van Zyl
A lifetime love of tinplate toys has resulted in this collector’s remarkable vintage collection
Over the past
60 years, Cape collector Percy van Zyl has amassed a phenomenal collection of vintage 20th-century toys. This extensive collection, which he started in his twenties, is housed in the Warrior Room in the Simon’s Town Civic Hall, and is open to the public seven days a week.
Hundreds upon hundreds of die-cast cars, armadas of model ships, model trains and armies of lead soldiers line the shelves of the former M.O.T.H. hall. It’s a treasure trove where childhood dreams are realised and memories of a bygone era come f looding back, whether you’re nine or 99. “It’s everything a boy or grown man could ever dream of,” says Percy.
Percy opened the museum when he retired from the SA Defence Force in 1989. “I would rather be here showing off my toys to fellow enthusiasts than be sitting at home,” laughs Percy.
What started as a schoolboy hobby has turned into his retirement business. “Shortly after I opened the museum, I was inundated with requests to buy the toys and that’s when I started to sell to the public, and now at least my sales cover the upkeep of my little museum,” he explains.
Percy has a particular fondness for the tinplate toys in his collection. “They were high-tech toys when I was growing up. I also love space-themed ones from the 1950s and 1960s. It was the atomic and space age and I, along with most of the kids my age, was obsessed with the idea of space travel and exploration. It’s so interesting to look back and see what we thought the world would be like in the future. It’s odd to think that after such an enthusiastic start to space travel, most superpowers have cancelled their space programmes,” remarks Percy.
ABOVE: Early 1960’s toy landaulet in the turn-of-the-century style of Bing.
FROM ABOVE: 1 Immaculate 1950’s Schuco Mercedes 190SL Roadster with clockwork remote control. 2 Post-war Japanese motorcycle and rider. 3 Late 1960’s Space Rocket No. 9.4 ‘Champion Racer’ by Masudaya of Japan.5 Battery-operated Japanese space explorer ship in its original packaging, which makes it more valuable. SOURCES Old Johannesburg Warehouse 011 836 1650 or oldjwauctioneers.com Simon’s Town Civic Hall 021 444 6811 or 021 702 6071