Londoner Jeffrey Levy has built up an amazing collection of Dinky Toys within the relatively short space of time of only five years. It is a collection that is particularly outstanding, because every item is in absolutely pristine condition and complete with its own original box!
His interest was aroused while lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a minor operation, when he was given a “get well” present by his sister-in-law during one of her visits. It was an inexpensive new toy car which triggered off boyhood memories and convinced him to see if he could find surviving examples once he was out of the hospital.
The search led him to his first swapmeet, and, from then on, he became a victim of collecting fever!
Jeffrey is particularly fond of the models produced by the French Dinky factory, and he explained to me: “I find that the detail on French Dinky is quite magnificent, and I feel that the standard of finish and quality is far superior to that of their English counterparts. Saying that, I still love the English Dinky Toys, although it may be that the French versions do have more charm.
“Actually, I do not have every model that Dinky produced, as I am not the type to add a model to my collection just because it says ‘Dinky Toy’ underneath. I only buy models to which I am attracted.” He continued, “I have always found a fascination with early Dinky aircraft and like to get as many pre-war examples in mint condition, and in their original boxes, as I can. The items I would like to add to my collection include such airplane models as the Caravelle French Dinky airliners carrying the banners of ‘Air Algerie,’ ‘Swissair,’ and ‘Scandinavian Airways,’ and also French Dinky Citroen ‘Baroclem’ van.”
Favourites in his collection include the set of six camouflaged Bristol Blenheim Bombers, the 28 series of Delivery Vans with advertising, and various Dinky ‘buses.
Jeffrey started dealing and swapping old toys in general – he is also interested in certain pieces of tinplate, such as ‘buses and airplanes – just over three years ago. Soon he was sending out aesthetically – designed mail-order lists and commenced to build up an international reputation.
“Toy collecting is truly an international hobby, and I began to travel widely, because throughout my business life I have always maintained that personal contact cannot be beaten,” he pointed out. “Dealing only in mint and boxed items meant that customers ordering through the mail from my listing would arrive. To describe an item on a list as ‘slightly chipped’ can be misleading, as one person’s idea of this condition can vary considerably from another’s. ‘Mint & Boxed’ indicates that the item is 100% mint in condition, complete with its original box!
“My travels take me regularly onto the continent of Europe, and I attend many of the fairs in Zurich, Paris, Geneva, Leile, Dijon, Marseillesm Antwerp, Brussels, Dreibergen, Amsterdam, to name but a few, as well as the better British events such as the London Toy Convention, Windsor, and Gloucester.”
Business built up so well that Jeffrey began to realize that it was high time that he opened a shop, and he began to look for suitable premises.
“I began to need a lot more room for storage goods and packing materials, etc, and I needed some kind of showroom where models could be placed on display, rather than the constant unpacking and repacking of items in the lounge of my home to show to visiting clients,” he explained.
Eventually, Jeffrey discovered suitable premises and recently opened his new shop on Watford Way, Hendon, in North London – easily accessible to visitors to the metropolis and aptly named “Mint & Boxed”!
Prices of goods which pack the tastefully-set-out showcases – even the huge Triang metal London ‘bus displayed in the glass counter – is complete with its original container! True, every item may not be exactly mint, and Jeffrey showed me a set of boxed pre-war Dinky vans with advertising that, unfortunately, showed the signs of fatigue common to many surviving examples.
The design of the great sign bearing the words “Mint & Boxed” over the shop frontage – and across the counter facing the entrance – is based on the artwork of the famous blue and red labels on the Dinky Supertoy boxes, but don’t think that the shop stocks nothing but Dinky products. You will find a comprehensive range of other collectible diecast models including the popular Lesney “Yesteryear,” “Spot-on,” etc., etc.
Jeffrey travels the world to replenish stocks; just prior to the Falklands War he had visited Buenos Aires in Argentina to buy a vast quantity of old Dinky toys, Triangs, etc.
“It cost me more in freightage than it did for the models!” he smilingly explained. “But, even then, they were a very good buy! I was also lucky in unearthing an amazing collection in Scotland when an elderly gentleman ‘phoned me up. The models he told me he had sounded like something from a Dinky Toy collector’s Aladdin’s Cave! I began to think someone was playing a prank on me, but I travelled north to Scotland and found it to be true. Many of the items I had only read about in books; other included pre-war boxes of six 28 Series Delivery Vans with advertising, early aircraft, and so on!
“An interesting incident occurred to me when I was attending a tiny Olivet Swapmeet, near Orleans, France, not so long ago. A gentleman purchased six mint, boxed toys displayed on the table, and I started wrapping them up to put them in the boxes. He grabbed hold of my arm, and I thought he was intending to attack me! ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘I do not want the boxes – only the models!’ I ended up with six empty boxes worth quite a bit of money, once I could find the correct models to go with them – which I did, shortly afterwards.
“Toys with boxes, as you well know,” Jeffrey pointed out, “command 60-70% higher prices than those without! “To me, a model just is not complete unless it has its own original box, because the box tells you just as much about the history of the toy as the model itself!”