August issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz

06 August 2010
imports_CCGB_gazette-aug-10_97177.jpg August 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’. ...
August issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz Images

Regardless of how many years' experience you might have in the collecting world you can guarantee that every now and then you will still make silly mistakes.

For example, I could have kicked myself a couple of weeks ago after handing over a crispy five pound note for a Great Western Railway jigsaw puzzle having been assured by the stallholder that it was ‘complete’. ‘I’ll be surprised if it is,’ I said to my mate Ferret on the way home and sure enough after spending several hours making it up on the kitchen table last week one bit failed to appear… ‘Caught out again Oz,’ I mused.

These jigsaws are so hard to sell if they are incomplete. The worst place to buy them are car boot sales. The seller so often assures you that they are complete but, sadly, they seldom are!

Oh well this one might still see a decent return at a fiver as it is a classic view of the Cheltenham Flyer, the popular name of The Great Western Railway’s ‘Cheltenham Spa Express’. For many years this magnificent train left Cheltenham en route for Paddington at 2.40pm each day covering the final stretch of the journey after passing through Swindon at upwards of 70mph. On 6th June 1932, the ‘Flyer’ – hauled by 5006 ‘Tregenna Castle’ – broke all railway speed records with a journey time of 56 mins 47 seconds at an average speed of 81.6mph, making it the fastest train in the world at the time.

Still on the subject of famous steam trains, an original 1930s enamel badge made by W H Miller of Birmingham and showing the super streamlined Coronation Scot in full cry soon found a new owner who was willing to pay a tenner for it. The Coronation Scot was another much-loved named express operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway between London Euston and Glasgow Central. It first ran in 1937 for the Coronation of King George V1 and the service was maintained until the start of WWII in 1939.

Dating from a similar period, or at least the late 1940s, one of the best tins I’ve sold this month was a Swat insect killer can with great graphics showing a giant fly enveloped in a big red cloud of fly killer. It kills flies, fleas, moths bugs and beetles says the writing on the tin, which soon sold for £20 to a keen tin collector.

One of my most unusual recent finds was a cardboard Indian head dress that had apparently come out of a kid's war-time Christmas stocking. The seller had sold the rest of the contents of the stocking off individually but I’d have loved to have seen the complete set in its original packaging.

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Still in the 1940s a Wizard comic competition book was a great little find for 50p from a flea market. Readers had to fill it in and send it off to enter a competition to win a telescopic foot-rule pencil… How exciting that must have been! Wizard was giving away 1,000 of these pencils but I wonder which lucky fellow had the job of sitting down and marking all those booklets?

Talking about lucky fellows I was a fortunate so-and-so to snap up a Beatles Magical Mystery Tour double EP the other day for £3 in amazing condition. And when I say amazing I mean it had hardly ever been played. I well remember the film being shown on BBC TV all those years ago at Christmas 1967. Produced by George Martin, the soundtrack to the film was released in the form of this six-track double EP in the UK, although for some strange reason in America the record was released 11 days earlier as an 11-track LP. The UK double EP set was quite an innovation in those days with the colourful gatefold sleeve containing a 28-page booklet with all the song lyrics and a host of colour pictures. Its original price was 19/6d (almost £1) which was quite a bit of dosh in those days. Should be worth around £15–£20 nowadays, I would think.

I’ve certainly been on a few mystery tours myself over the years although I wouldn’t go as far as to call them magical! Usually they are in search of obscure car boot sales in far-off places with the Skip Rat or Ferret at the wheel of the van frantically trying to find badly positioned roadside signs down dimly-lit country lanes in the middle of nowhere – map reading has never been one of my strong points! This happened a few weeks ago when we went seriously wrong on the way to a new boot fair, finally arriving about two hours after the gates had opened. It looked like being a complete disaster but funnily enough we had one of the best mornings work we’d had for weeks bagging some great bargains. These included a Tri-ang tinplate petrol tanker which was a bargain at £10 even though it had been repainted. A pair of Dinky Ferrari racing cars off two different stalls at the same car boot sale were bought for £2 and £3 so not a bad buy for a fiver the brace. It just proves what a popular little model this racing car must have been in its day. Introduced to the Dinky catalogue in 1953, production ran for 11 years until 1964 by which time it was being sold in bubble packs. There were two variants in the finish of the Ferrari, one having a completely yellow nose and the other having a yellow triangle. It just so happened that this pair illustrated these colour variations perfectly… one of each!

No doubt prompted by the feast of World Cup football we’ve just experienced an Eagle Football Annual dating from 1961 finally found a buyer willing to pay a fiver for it and an unusual Tate and State word game issued as a free gift by Tate & Lyle sugar in the 1950s also found a new owner happy to hand over £8. This was an unusual game in a small box made to imitate one of those old blue sugar packets with an illustration of ‘Mr Cube’ – Tate & Lyle's famous marketing character – on the side.

Well, that’s about it for this month folks, happy summer bargain 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.