19 November 2010
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’. ...
Hi folks. It’s amazing how quickly the years seem to fly by and here we are, once again, with our December issue and the dawn of 2011 lurking just around the corner.
I was sitting down at the local the other night reminiscing with my old mate Ferret and the lads about how time flies and recalling memories of our first jobs and my early years of collecting.
When I told Ferret that my first wage packet as a van lad delivering furniture from a warehouse was £7 for a long, hard, 40-hour week in 1972, he couldn’t believe it. Seven quid went a long way in those days though, especially when a pint of beer was 15p!
By my reckoning, the first swapmeet I attended was way back in 1976... Crikey, can that really be almost 35 years ago? Those were the days when Oz had a good mop of hair on his head and a nice slim waistline to boot! One thing he didn’t have, however, was much spare dosh being a poor art student for five long years!
In those distant days ‘swapmeets’ were exactly what the name suggested – the chance to get rid of unwanted models and trains and acquire new additions by swapping, although there was always plenty of stuff put out on tables for sale. The first swapmeets I went to were held in a small village hall where you could buy quality unboxed diecast toys for as little as 50p or a pound, and boxed Matchbox 1-75s for a couple of quid. If you had a fiver to spare, you could have invested it in a boxed Dinky Supertoy and I did splash out a fiver on a Foden wagon on one occasion as a special treat! In hindsight, we all wished we’d spent more in those halcyon days and stashed them away but, the simple fact of the matter is, we just didn’t have the cash to do it.
All this nostalgia was sparked off when I sold a Dinky Riley saloon the other day in really nice nick to a guy who came in looking for good, clean, unboxed Dinkys. “You could buy these for 50 pence each at one time,” he mused as he handed me a crispy £20 note to add the Riley to his ever-expanding collection.
Dinkys don’t come cheap these days, not even at car boot sales, as most folk seem to know their value but, some collectables are so odd and unusual that nobody really knows their true value. This was the case when I bagged a great car boot bargain a few weeks back in the shape of a collection of WWI paper flags that had been stored inside an old Oxo tin. These colourful little flags were from charity flag days when street collections raised money to support all sorts of needy wartime causes from huts for soldiers to horse hospitals, children’s homes to Salvation Army ambulances and tank building funds. I was more than happy to pay a tenner for them as they are so delicate I can’t imagine many having survived.
Another delicate find was several old dummy chocolate bars designed to be used in sweet shop window displays. They were all made by Cadbury in the 1950s and look so realistic Ferret thought they had real chocolate inside! I bagged these dummy bars for a fiver which I considered to be a very reasonable price to pay.
Another confectionery-related item to come my way this month was a superb large oval toffee tin that once contained some Blue Ribbon brand Toffee Ginger made by Marshall’s of Blyth, Northumberland. It cost me a tenner but was well worth it in the condition it was in with only very minor scratching. The toffee tin brigade will be scrapping over this one!
My most unusual recent find was a Scalextric ‘Roar’ 45rpm record, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Both sides contain the sounds of motor races designed to add realism to Scalextric sets – I can imagine this being fantastic fun in a dark room re-enacting one of those classic Le Mans night races with D-Type jags… there’s the kid in me coming out again, just the type of thing me and my mates would have done back in the 1960s if we’d laid our hands on this record which only cost a mere 10p at a car boot sale!
Talking of the 1960s, a Matchbox catalogue dating from 1962 and in pristine condition soon found a buyer willing to hand over £8 for it. The cover showed a classic Jaguar saloon with real windows and a lifting bonnet which was a real revelation for Matchbox collectors in those days… I can still remember my uncle buying me one of these for my birthday.
Another great piece of 1960s nostalgia to find a new home was an original old Milky Bar Kid plastic star badge that sold for £12. It was the first one of these I'd had in stock for about 15 years so I knew it would sell quickly.
Another quick sale was made when a John Hill and Co hollow cast ostrich in superb condition was snapped up by a keen metal figure collector for £10.
Finally, a clockwork Wells Pocketoy tinplate open wagon found a new home in Holland when a Dutch guy called in on his way to one of the big antique fairs. He was more than happy to pay the asking price of £25, telling me that toy prices here in the UK tend to be a bit cheaper than in Holland making his twice yearly buying mission very worthwhile.
Well, that’s about it for this month folks… see you all in 2011 which I hope will be another bumper year of bargains for us all!
*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.