BRITAIN’S MOST controversial antique toy car dealer, Jeffrey Levy’s Mint & Boxed company, has won a coveted Queen’s Award to industry for export achievement.
The firm claims to have exported antique Dinky and other toys to the value of £14 million in the year to June 1990. Levy says that he expects the 1991 total to be more than £27 million.
Thirty-four year old Levy, reputed to be a millionaire, started the company from a modest shop in London, in 1984. He rapidly cornered the somewhat amateur market in old Dinky Toys, and to the horror of the collecting establishment, promoted them through a glossy catalogue and began to attract buyers from the world’s major museums. His prices were usually at least double those of established dealers.
He then moved into the rarefied world of antique tin cars, trains and boats dating from the 1890s. Trading in the exquisite creations of men like Carette, Guntherman and Andre Citroen, Levy bought several major collections and regularly outbid the rivals. With an Aladdin’s cave of stock, he attracted major players in the world art market. Through brilliant buying and skilful promotion he has, in the past five years, almost single-handedly elevated antique tin toys from auction room curiosities to the point where they are now often accepted as high art. Prices are now multi-thousands rather than hundreds. Buyers include several of the world’s leading art museums.
Levy’s Queen’s Award is partially the result of a major sales campaign in America. The company opened its first American outlet in New York’s ‘Museum Mile’ Madison Avenue last September. Levy says that he’s also had major success in introducing antique European toys to the Far East.
Potential investors are beginning to realise that antique toys are works of art, says Levy, “and, as such, are as collectable as fine paintings, sculptures or ceramics. It’s a trend that I believe will continue to grow”.
An idea of Levy’s often controversial prices can be gained from his catalogue which lists models like the humble Dinky Toy AC Aceca coupe at £155.