Vintage Dinky Toy vans drive in bidders

Five rare die-cast toy vans more than doubled their upper estimates of £800 each when they sold for a total of £8,928 at a recent specialist Toys, Die-cast Models & Juvenalia auction.

The single-owner collection of rare Dinky Toys vans dating from 1934-1935 was sold at Gildings Auctioneers in Market Harborough, after being discovered in a drawer by the original owner’s son.

A collection of vintage Dinky Toy vans

The standout lot was a pale green van with a Palethorpes ‘Royal Cambridge’ side advertising decal, which sold for £2,108. It was closely followed by a red ‘Ensign Cameras/Lukos Films’ van which sold for £1,984 and a green ‘Wakefield Castrol Motor Oil’ van which sold for £1,860. Completing the set, a yellow Kodak Film ‘Use to be Sure’ van sold for £1,736 and a blue Pickfords Removals & Storage van attracted bids of £1,240.

Although they were produced in the mid-1930s, the die-cast vans are based on 1920s designs. The collection remains intact after all five lots were won by a collector in the USA.

“This consignment has been a great joy from the very beginning,” commented Gildings’ Toys & Memorabilia specialist Andrew Smith. “When our vendor came in for a valuation with these vehicles loosely wrapped in a shoebox, I had no idea what I was going to find. So, when I opened the lid to reveal these very scarce vans by one of the iconic makers of die-cast vehicles, from arguably it’s golden age, I’m sure I audibly gasped! My initial excitement carried through to selling them on the rostrum to our global database of clients, to start their new chapter on American soil – a Toy Story for the ages!”

Matchbox Superfast Group

The result for the collection was achieved even though the vans were in ‘played with’ condition, having clearly been enjoyed by the original owner. However, as early examples of Dinky Toys made from a lead-based casting, they had a much sharper definition than later alloy castings, which dent and deteriorate.

“Unlike later examples of Dinky cars where having the original box is highly prized, this era of model didn’t come individually boxed – instead they were sent to retailers in trade boxes of six,” added Andrew Smith. “This collection was also unusual in being fresh to market; usually these early Dinkys have been seen before. Also, as early models, they are stamped ‘Hornby Series Meccano,’ so it’s not obvious to the untrained eye that they are in fact Dinkys. The toys all looked in similar ‘played with’ condition, but to the specialist collector some were in slightly better condition than others, hence the variation in the final prices.”

Die-cast toy cars from more recent eras also performed strongly in the auction, with a 1960s Matchbox Series no.25 Volkswagen Beetle selling for £161, despite being scratched and chipped.

The sale also revealed the increasing popularity of the 1970s Matchbox Superfast series, with highlights including a single Matchbox Superfast no.8 Ford Mustang selling for £105, a collection of four Matchbox Superfast cars featuring a no.23 Volkswagen Camper selling for £186, and two collections of five Matchbox Superfast cars achieving £161 each.

“The auction highlighted the current strength of the market for toy cars and other nostalgic toys,” said Andrew Smith. “As well as the great results we saw for 130 lots of die-cast vehicles from makers such as Dinky, Matchbox, Corgi and Tri-ang, we also saw strong bidding for early computers and games consoles, Scalextric cars, Airfix sets and vintage dolls.”