The Antique Toy Archive

Getting it right, just right

Collectors Mart, Jan 1985

Dinky Toy collector Jeffrey Levy cares about quality. And this likeable Londoner is prepared to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to locate the right sort of material.

He insists that every item which he adds to his amazing collection of Dinky Toys is in pristine condition and comes complete with its original box.

“To me, a model is not complete unless it has its own original box because that tells just as much about the history of the item as the example itself,” he explained.

With the collecting situation as it is today, with many clever re-paints appearing on the market, the box is additional proof that a particular piece is genuine. Also, as in the case of most collectables in such times of economic depression, it is the perfect examples that keep their value and have investment potential.

Jeffrey began collecting Dinky Toys some five years ago when he was given a toy car as a “get well” present whilst recovering from a minor operation in hospital. It revived feelings of nostalgia which led him to start searching toy swapmeets for surviving Dinky Toys.

Within a couple of years his collection had reached the point where his interest led him into the world of ‘wheeling and dealing’ – and soon he found himself to be an international expert on the subject.

“I was issuing lists of surplus models for sale and of models I wanted – and this led to international dealing with other collectors.” He said.

“Then I found myself travelling to visit Continental toy fairs, as well as those in the U.K. Nowadays I am a regular attender at events in such places as Zurich, Geneva, Amsterdam, Dreibergen, Antwerp, Brussels, Paris, Dijon, Marseilles, etc. as well as the more popular English swapmeets, such as the ones at Windsor, Gloucester, and the annual London Toy Convention.”

Jeffrey collects both British and French produced Dinky models, but he really prefers the ones made in France.

“I find the details on the French Dinkys quite magnificent – their quality is far superior to that of their English counterparts and they have a far higher standard of finish,” he explained.

“Yet, I still love English Dinkys; even though they do seem to lack a little of the charm of their French counterparts. At present I am anxious to add some of the French Dinky aircraft to my collection – namely the Caravelle Airliners produced in the liveries of ‘Air Algerie’, ‘Swissair’, and ‘Scandinavian Airways’, as well as the Citroen ‘Baroclem van.”

He has a particular liking for Dinky aircraft and a favourite item in his collection is a boxed set of six camouflaged Bristol Blenheim Bombers. Other favourites: the ’28 series’ delivery vans (with advertising), as well as various bus models.

“My search for mint, boxed examples, has led me many miles,” Jeffrey pointed out. “And, just before the Falklands War, I made the trip to Buenos Aires in Argentina in order to purchase the contents of a warehouse I had tracked down. The stock, which was 25 years old, included many Dinky Toys and examples of other makes, including Tri-ang.”

It cost me more in freight than it did for the models,” he joked. “But it was worth it, as it was a very good buy.”

“Another time I was offered a fantastic collection of Dinky over the phone – so amazing, the list sounded like something from a collector’s Aladdin’s Cave! At first I thought I was the victim of some kind of hoax! However, it turned out to be a genuine offer and the property of an elderly Scotsman – I wasted no time in journeying to Scotland. Many of the examples I had never seen before – only read about in book! Included were such rarities as pre-war boxes of six ’28 Series’ of delivery vans with advertising, early aircraft, and boxed sets!”

Finding his business – and his reputation – growing, Jeffrey decided that he would need to find a shop premises.

“I began to realise that I would need extra room for extra stock, as well as the packing materials I needed. And a shop permanent display instead of having to keep unpacking boxes to show visitors in the lounge at our home,” he said.

Now Jeffrey has opened his shop after six months or so planning, and called it – as one might have guessed – “Mint & Boxed”. It is situated in London. Though the shop offers mainly Dinky Toys there are plenty of mint and boxed items of other prominent models – such as ‘Spot-on” and Yesteryear”. And there are also tinplate toys to be found there. Prices range from about £25 upwards.

I liked Jeffrey’s alternative reason for his love of mint, boxed items – “Toy collecting is truly an international hobby and, when I first produced sales lists, I found it simpler to say all the pieces were ‘mint & boxed’ than try to describe sub-standard items. For instance, one person’s idea of a ‘slightly chipped item’ can vary considerably from that of another’s!”

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