Lost but not forgotten - Part 3

14 October 2022
In the final part of our series, we shed light on three more obscure diecast manufacturers...
Lost but not forgotten - Part 3 Images

If you spend a lot of time in collecting circles, at swapmeets or in auction rooms then you are probably familiar with most brands of diecast models. That is, until now...


Never heard of FGT? I hadn’t either, until my collector friend Pete Merrall explained all. One Fred Taylor gave his initials to the brand and he, as some readers will know, was half of the famous Taylor & Barrett company, whose diecast output was as vast as it was varied.

One of the two companies formed on the break-up of the Taylor and Barrett partnership in 1945 by Fred Taylor was F G Taylor & Sons, with FGT also being used to represent “For Good Toys”. The company shared out the old Taylor & Barrett moulds with Barrett & Sons and, where they didn’t have a suitable mould, they simply re-made their own version. FGT was particularly well-known for detailed trades people sets, such as the brewer’s dray. The company, like many others of that era, converted to plastic products in the 1960s and finally closed down around 1980.

The fire engine shown here is typical of the FGT output and the overtones of Taylor & Barrett are quite evident. I confess to being at a loss when it comes to stating quite how many vehicles you’ll find bearing the FGT initials on the underside; and for those completists, you’ll need to know that the moniker wasn’t confined to vehicular output, either, since it can be found on countryside castings, for example.

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Jordan and Lewden

This company, if no other in my series, certainly deserves some sort of hardback publication devoted to its output, for its range was large and extremely interesting.

The company started up production around 1950 and its initial offering was half a dozen cars, a little bigger than Dinky examples but well made for all that. The Ford Prefect, Daimler Conquest, Austin A40, Buick and Standard Vanguard (also in Estate format) all date to about 1953-1954, and the Buick aside, would have been familiar sights on British roads. In time, friction drive gave way to push-along power in this so-called River Series (dies were later loaned to New Zealand, incidentally, which results in a sub series to collect).

Trucks were also produced by Jordan and Lewden: the forward control lorry and the articulated lorry provided the basis for many other models. It was merely a question of adding or changing the rear part of each lorry to produce yet another variation on a theme. These models are not too common, especially when complete; several have attachments or loads that have been misplaced over the decades. Both clockwork and non-powered versions can be found here.

Some bizarre models are around, such as the lorry with open slots in the sides of the rear section which house a couple of miniature cars. These latter are completely out of scale with the lorry: are they pedal cars perhaps? The gully emptier is another curio, for the lorry with its swinging mechanism is indeed an unusual choice for modelling. A crane truck, a tower wagon and a fork-lift truck give some idea of the breadth of scope of this range.

Jordan and Lewden’s military side was equally impressive: an ambulance, a covered wagon, tanker, crane and low loader are just some models that can be collected. MADE IN ENGLAND or HERE COMES THE ARMY SERIES can be found embossed on the undersides of some vehicles in this range. One gift set of seven items makes use of a raised bed box that can be cut up to construct a Bailey Bridge: how’s that for innovation?

To add to the list, the enterprise produced locomotives; at least four are known and whilst they are a little crude in design, they nonetheless stand out as further proof of the company’s determination to succeed in the diecast toy market.

The epilogue saw many of the company’s moulds pass to Israel in the 1960s, where another sub series, under the Gamda label, can be traced. Not all the vehicles were re-made, though; and as Gamda also acquired moulds from Kemlows and Charbens, some quirky products resulted.


Betal might sound like the ideal nomenclature for a turf accountant (!) but it was, in fact, a London-based diecast manufacturer, the enterprise taking its name from the factory where it all started. It seems that the founders Marks and Kate Glasman (as was so often the case) were foreign, in this case hailing from the Ukraine.

The company’s output predates World War Two, for toys were being produced in the early 1920s and Glasman’s business exhibited at the British Industries Fair in 1929. Quite a large range was built up, for it encompassed games as well as toy forts, fireworks, fancy dress clothes, tool sets and metal toys, both mechanical and non-mechanical.

By 1950 diecasts were being promoted. In time the company passed to the couple’s children but in later years mixed circumstances brought about its demise, which occurred during the 1980s.

Collecting Betal isn’t too difficult if you want just one example: the commonest model is the 1940s Jowett Javelin, itself an unusual car in the world of the miniature. Helpfully, the company name is embossed underneath. This was available as a hollow casting or with friction drive fitted, or even a clockwork motor. Harder to find is the Austin 16 that was manufactured with a choice of power; strangely, this model lacks headlights. An Austin A40 is also attributable to Betal and is another uncommon survivor. Donald Campbell’s Bluebird Land Speed Record car, in clockwork format, occasionally surfaces, too: if boxed it is particularly sought after, with its “Fastest car on Earth” rubric.

There are also trucks and military items, some of the latter merely being repaints of the commercial examples.