Col­lect­ing TIN­PLATE TOYS with Percy van Zyl

South African Garden and Home - - Collectabl­es -

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 old­jwauc­tion­ Si­mon’s Town Civic Hall 021 444 6811 or 021 702 6071

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