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Adam Partridge, one of the UK’s finest antique experts and auctioneers
Adam Partridge

The thrill of model collecting comes in owning that which is otherwise unobtainable, that which, over time, has become the preserve of a select few or a mechanical relic in the memory of a generation.

Every vehicle of every era has a DeLorean quality about it, a power to transport one back to a time and a place when our physical and cultural horizons shifted and expanded, be it taking that first, nervous journey in a second-hand Morris Minor or experiencing the imperial, laconic cool of Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 through the cinema screen, as aloof, intangible and dangerous as the man himself. Such vehicles are not simply ‘Back to the Future’, they are ‘Back to our Future’, and that is why the model remains a potent and vital portal for the collector.

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Corgi 261 ‘Special Agent 007 James Bond Aston Martin D.B.5’ sold for £100

Dinky and Corgi were the most accomplished manufacturers of these models with production running in Great Britain from the 1930s through to the 1980s. During this time they excelled in manufacturing in miniature, replicating an incredible variety of vehicles to high standards of realism and quality. The competition between them (Corgi entered the market in 1956 after two decades of Dinky monopoly) led to much innovative back and forth with Corgi famously branding themselves as ‘The Ones with Windows’; indeed, because they were the latecomer, Corgi arguably introduced the more impactful and lasting changes, including the now near-ubiquitous ‘Window-Box’ displaying the model behind a clear plastic ‘window’ – this surely caught the eye of many a child and lightened the pockets of their parents. We all know the feeling of ruefully admiring the latest models through the spotless glass of glitzy dealerships – this packaging innovation brilliantly captured that feeling and lowered the barrier to entry so that one
could go home with the car of their dreams and neither a bank loan nor a new garage were required.

However, this is not to say that Dinky and Corgi models were not exclusive in their own right – their exacting standards meant that they were not cheap, throwaway purchases, indeed quite the opposite. For most children in post-war Britain a Dinky or a Corgi were that special breed of toy that only appeared perhaps twice a year, at birthdays and Christmases. They were associated with those memories of crossing days off calendars, watching clocks and eager hands tearing wrapping paper, that exciting and excruciating ritual that every generation of children must go through.

Now, those children have grown up and, as every generation does, are returning to their youth and collecting those models that they always hoped they would unwrap but never did, that are a first or fondly remembered car, that were produced only in small numbers and as such were snapped up before reaching the ordinary consumer, the unusual colour scheme or variation, the factory prototype, the collector’s club rarity.

The current market for these model vehicles is so buoyant because there are consumers at all levels as there are with their full-size counterparts for the same constraints of budget and availability apply – and, as with the car market today, the internet has proven a thriving marketplace for Dinky and Corgi vehicles. Therefore, as an auction house with one of the largest online client bases in the country, we find buyers for both the humdrum and the high-end, the job lot and the single item, the spares and repairs, and
welcome all enquiries and consignments to this effect.

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A selection of early Dinky boxed vehicles sold for £190

We have an in-house toy specialist at our Preston valuation office call Steven on 01772 347380 to discuss your toy collection.

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