The Antique Toy Archive

Toy Centre of the World

Tourist in London Magazine, March 1986.
By Jack Tempest

Antique Toys are items that are eagerly sought after by collectors from all parts of the world nowadays. Classical examples are changing hands regularly for extremely high values and finding homes in collections where their new owner enjoy their immense nostalgic appeal.

Unlike many bygones, they are articles that have miraculously survived the years in spite of once being in the hands of those most carless of all owners – children!

All toys come in two main types: -tinplate toys and diecast models. The majority of tin plate toys – and the best produced – came from Germany before, and in between, the two World Wars. Japan also produced some excellent tinplate toys in the 1950s and 60s.

Diecast toys came from many sources and manufacturers, the most famous being the Dinky Toys – made by the Meccano factory in Liverpool.

Collector Jeffrey Levy specializes in all types of toys, insisting always on examples in perfect condition, complete whenever possible with their original cartons “Mint & Boxed” is a term used to describe this tip-top condition and, when Mr Levy decided to commence trading internationally in these desirable items, he chose the title “Mint & Boxed” for his business.

As the business expanded Jeffrey decided to open a shop on Watford Way, Hendon, in North London, called “Mint & Boxed”. This was almost two years ago and has resulted in a tremendous increase in trading, necessitating the introduction of an IBM computer system to cope with all the correspondence, records, details of clients and lists of stock.

“We must now hold the largest stock of quality antique and collectable toys in the world” stated Mr Levy, “and every item is in pristine condition, the ‘Crème de la Crème’.”

Complete and up-dated lists of all the toys for sale are distributed internationally ­– the world is full of hungry collectors seeking quality items. If “Mint & Boxed” does not have any particular item available, then they will search their computer records and invariably come up with the goods! This is not an easy task – the majority of the manufacturers went out of business years ago, so it is not just a simple question of sending out an order for replacement stock as in the case of trading in present-day goods.

Recently an extension has been built on the rear of the shop premises, in order to permit even more space to store even more stock as it arrives. Jeffrey Levy is constantly seeking to buy choice items and complete collections to keep up the business flow – this means getting around the world; one day he will be flying off to America, another driving around Europe. Whilst private collectors are his main clients – many being millionaires and titled personages – Jeffrey told me that he now finds he is being approached by museums of various countries with requests to help them build up specialized toy collections.

Starting originally with diecast model cars, Mr Levy has been attracted to the charm and ingenuity of the classical tin plate models, particularly those produced on the Continent at the turn of the century. Now many examples of these fine playthings can be seen in his showroom – and he is building up a fine personal collection to display at his country residence where he lives with his charming wife Fiona.

“London is the finest trading centre in the whole wide world,” Jeffrey pointed out, “and I am making it the centre of this great new international hobby of toy collecting!”

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