April 2011 issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz

23 March 2011
imports_CCGB_oz-2_37133.jpg April 2011 issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz
Collectors Gazette's monthly gaze into the weird and wonderful world of eccentric collector/dealer Obsolete Oz, his canine sidekick Nipper and erstwhile companions ‘Skip Rat’ and ‘Ferret’. ...
April 2011 issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz Images

Hi folks. It’s interesting how collecting has changed over the past few years. Although many of us are still looking for the same type of things now as we were years ago, the places we have to go to find them are certainly changing.

When I started collecting back in the early 1970s, swapmeets were only just emerging and I relied heavily on junk shops, antique shops and markets that were plentiful in every town and city. There were also some cracking antique fairs on the scene. Anthony Porters’ famous fleamarket at the Queens Hall in Leeds was always one of my favourites, along with the Granby Halls in Leicester. I still have some of the fabulous stuff I bought at these fairs all those years ago.

Donington was another great venue where you could always guarantee a bag full of bargains but, sadly, like many other once great fairs, the Queen’s Hall, Granby Halls and Donington have all disappeared from the show calendar.

All is not lost, however, as a new phenomenon is now lighting up the collecting scene in the shape of the County Showground fairs and fleamarkets.

These spacious agricultural grounds seem to be growing in number providing easy parking and comfortable indoor facilities for sellers and buyers alike. Weather permitting, there’s also unlimited spacefor outside and casual pitches making these spring and summer showground events massive affairs.

I go as far north as the Lincoln and Newark shows and south to Shepton Mallet and Malvern. The twice yearly Peterborough Showground fair is another excellent place to find toys, advertising and juvenilia. So ,as far as buying in new stock is concerned, they simply cannot be missed.

A recent early morning scout around the Shepton Mallet flea market turned up a nice selection of toys including a couple of classic Matchbox models which were both very reasonably priced. They were bought from a general dealer who simply valued them at a price that gave her a decent profit, leaving some cash in them for a toy dealer.

Her Matchbox King Size No 3 Cat D9 was priced at £38 and a 1-75 No 71 Army Austin Water Truck, again mint and boxed, was up for £32. £63 bought the pair with the added bonus of the water truck having the Matchbox badge still in the box with the model.

These badges are worth a few bob on their own but it’s nice to keep it with the water truck that was introduced to the Matchbox range in 1959.

The Caterpillar bulldozer sold within days of going on sale in my cabinet for £65 so whatever I get for the water truck, when it eventually sells, will be a nice clear profit.

Another super item, this time scooped up at the Lincoln Showground antique fair, was a superb Edwardian tin bucket advertising Victory Gums, Victory V Chlorodyne lozenges and Opera desserts.

It’s quite a big thing, standing 8in tall, and was probably used in a shop to dispense loose sweets. I had to shell out £45 to buy it but it was in such good condition I reckon it was well worth the price.

On the subject of tinplate advertising items I couldn’t resist a little group of novelty pencil sharpeners that turned up in a local auction room close to where I live. They were in a small box inside the silver and jewellery cabinet so I don’t think a lot of collectors actually spotted them, luckily for me!

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Apparently they belonged to a lady whose grandfather had worked at the factory where they were made in Mansfield and she used to play with them in a kiddies shop as a child.

She must have been a very careful kid not to damage them as they are all in excellent condition and well worth the £36 I had to shell out for them – plus a bit of buyer’s premium.

Another nice little advertising item, this time scooped up for a fiver from a car boot sale, was an enamel lapel badge advertising Scott’s Jams which, judging by the little girl in her Scottish kilt and beret, looks to have been from a company based north of the border.

The badge itself was made by Miller of Birmingham and was most likely issued as a marketing promotion similar to those ever-popular Robertson’s Golliwog badges.

I know rival jam makers like Moorhouses and Chivers also produced numerous enamel lapel badges that were obtained by sending off the labels or the lids off jam jars. When I was a kid most lads sported a fine array of enamel badges on their school blazer lapels – me included!

A couple of items discovered by Skip Rat in a pile of scrap papers chucked out from a clearance have proved to be interesting finds this month. One is a brochure from the Festival Pleasure Gardens, dating from 1953, describing all the attractions and various rides on the Fun Fair that were part of the Festival of Britain.

The thing that interested me the most about this, however, was a feature called ‘Moboland’ where children could play on all the products produced by Sebel Productions Ltd.

Remember those old all-metal ‘Mobo’ toys? My mate had a ‘Mobo’ motorbike that we hammered into the ground on a makeshift speedway track we built in his back garden – in fact, we even carried on racing the bike after all the rubber had worn off the tyres! Amazingly, there was also an advert for ‘Mobo’ in this brochure showing that very same motorbike and the pony and trap that belonged to his sister… Pure nostalgia.

The other interesting bit of paper that the Rat turned up was a programme from a flying circus featuring the daredevil flying stunts performed by Capt C D Barnard in his Spider Monoplane. These events were sponsored by the Daily Mail and held at various locations throughout the UK during the early 1930s. Interestingly, the centre pages featuring the programme of events have been stamped ‘CANCELLED’ so something must have happened to stop the famous pilot performing on this occasion?

Dating from a similar period was a nice little set of lead toy battleships and submarines that found a buyer willing to pay a tenner for them plus a 1920s advertising calendar from a printing firm based at Newington Causeway found in the back of a picture frame also found a buyer at £25.

Finally, a Fry’s chocolate wooden shop display box, in stunning condition, soon sold for £35 to a keen confectionery memorabilia collector. It had been used to hold sewing equipment and had been stashed away on the top of a wardrobe for years, hence its marvellous condition.

Well, that’s about all for yet another month folks. Spring is just around the corner so we can all look forward to the start of another super booting season… Happy hunting and, as always, be lucky!  

A self-confessed ‘old timer’ with one foot firmly fixed in the past, Oz scours car boot sales, fleamarkets and jumble sales for collectables, selling his stock in an antiques centre cabinet brimming with old toys and juvenalia.

'Obsolete Oz' is a regular feature in the Collectors Gazette. Make sure you don't miss an issue by signing up for a subscription here.