December 2011 issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz

23 November 2011
imports_CCGB_tin_87050.jpg December 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’. ...
December 2011 issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz Images

Hello, folks. As another December issue descends upon us, I’m sitting here wondering where 2011 went. It seems to have come and gone so quickly I can hardly believe that we will soon be entering the year when the great Olympic dream finally becomes a reality. Will any of the Olympic merchandise, which is sure to flood the market next year, ever be collectable? Only time will tell but it certainly won’t happen within my lifetime so I won’t be investing!

Talking of investments, one of the most memorable recent additions to my collection was a great old tin picked up at the recently revived Donington Toy and Vintage Advertising Fair for a bargain £10. It shows a great view of a snow capped Mount Everest regardless of the fact that its producer, Kuro Ltd, was actually based in Grace Street, Leeds – just about as far away from Mount Everest as you can possibly get!

That’s one of the great things about vintage tins and advertising, in the old days firms just seemed to think of a subject or dream up an image and use it regardless of its relevance to the product. Mind you by the sound of this gut wrenching Seidlitz powder, once prescribed for all manner of gastric ailments, I’m surprised they didn’t use an image of an erupting volcano rather than the calm and tranquil slopes of Everest!

Jumble sales seem few and far between these days but I did manage to find one a few weeks back where I discovered a personally nostalgic Ladybird book of British Railway Locomotives, in mint condition and with dust jacket, for a bargain 50p.

It’s more than 60 years since the first of these familiar pocket-sized Ladybird books saw the light of day way back in 1940. It featured an animal series, including Bunnikins and Downy Duckling, which was an instant hit with children.

Published in 1958 as part of the 584 series, British Railway Locomotives mainly features steam trains but a few diesel-electrics also crept within its pages. They were mostly made by English Electric in the days when Britain actually made trains – but don’t get me started on that subject!

I said earlier that this was a personally nostalgic find as I remember being presented with this very same book for ‘endeavour’ at my junior school prize giving ceremony in 1960. Sad as it may seem, this still remains one of the most memorable achievements in life, as I often remind my old mate Skip Rat!

Speaking of the latter, I have to thank the old ‘Rat’ for rescuing a fascinating folded plan of how to build a floating model King George V class battleship from a scrap of five bobs worth of material. This plan originally cost half a crown and I reckon it would have taken years to build this model to the standard shown in the illustration, despite the claim that no special tools or skill was required... who were they kidding?

This month seems to have been a month of interesting books and paper stuff and another great find this time came in a charity book shop.

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The Observer’s WWII Fighting Vehicles Directory was what I used to call the ‘scratch-builder’s bible’. Published by Frederick Warne & Co in 1972, this massive 320-page masterpiece features hundreds of WWII military vehicles used by Allied and Axis powers, some of which are so rare and unusual that without this volume I would never have known that such vehicles existed.

During my 4mm scratch-building days I found lots of interesting military models to construct using ideas taken from this book. They included a Leyland Retriever searchlight unit, an articulated Bedford/Scammell OXC 6-ton supply truck and a Foden DG 10 Ton 6x4 troop carrier, the likes of which I had never seen before in military use. I just had to buy the ‘scratch-builder’s bible’ again despite its £5 price tag if only for sentimental reasons.

Talking of military items leads me on to one of my best recent sales: a plastic Airfix Avro Lancaster Bomber Kit in fantastic condition that flew out for a cool £70. Released in 1958 and originally sold for the princely sum of 7/6d, this was one of the first kits to be moulded on Airfix’s new larger injection-moulding machines which allowed larger sprues to be produced. The earlier Wellington Bomber had required the old moulding machines to be modified to cope with the larger parts.

The Avro Lancaster B1 is very hard to get hold of these days so I had no problem getting the £70 asked with the guy who bought it being very pleased with his purchase.

Another happy buyer walked away with a nice, clean unboxed Dinky Observation coach for £18. This model was made between 1950 and 1960 and was originally sold in trade packs of six coaches and later in individual yellow boxes.

On the subject of boxes, a great little box of Christmas lights found by the Ferret during a house clearance sold for a tenner. These lights were in a superb box showing four different scenes of Christmas festivities of times past – they don’t make boxes like that any more.

A forage around a well-known flea market gleaned a really nice mint-boxed Matchbox Models of Yesteryear 1911 B-Type London Bus that I couldn’t resist buying for £45. This has always been one of my favourite Yesteryear models. Interestingly, it was chosen for the Yesteryear range because Jack Odell’s father had driven similar vehicles on the streets of London and he suggested adding an old bus to the Yesteryear range. I reckon there must be a few quid left in it and if not I’ll be happy to hang on to it.

Back on the selling front, a cute pair of 1940s birthday cards, one showing a dog in a pedal car and the other a lady cat with a push-along cart, made a fiver the pair and a pile of old Meccano magazines sold for a tenner.

Well, that’s about it for yet another year, folks. Happy hunting around the winter car boots and flea markets.

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.