15 October 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’. ...
Hello folks. Every now and then you hit a stroke of luck that makes all the effort of those 5am starts on Sunday mornings worthwhile.
One of my lifetime collecting dreams has been to find an Airfix Ferguson tractor – boxed or bagged with header card, I don't really care. The second of my Airfix dream finds has to be the Avro Lancaster B1, based on the one flown by 460 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, which was first released as a kit in 1958 in a splendidly illustrated box.
Well, I'm happy to say that although the tractor still remains a dream, the Lancaster has at last become reality, acquired by fantastic good fortune for the princely sum of £10! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it propped up against a glass vase at the back of a table of stuff that had been cleared out from someone's attic. The contents of the kit looked untouched and I couldn't get my tenner out quick enough.
There are lots of folk going around looking for gold at the moment but in my eyes, this is real gold as far as collectables go. Apparently, the seller’s uncle bought the kit in the late-1950s but he simply never got time to build it. I know this scenario well; you should see the pile of unmade kits in my attic! Last year I saw the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight 'Lanc' flying low over Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire and what a sight that was. Entering operations in March 1942, the 'Lanc' became the most famous and successful of the WWII night bombers delivering 608,612 tons of bombs over Germany in 156,000 sorties.
Talking of Germany, another really lucky find that came my way, but still needs a bit more research, was a Lehmann novelty 'INDU' illusion where a native seated on a mat appears to have his head chopped off! The sword looks like it chops through a wooden pin but the pin miraculously stays in one piece. It's an ingenious little toy but I have a suspicion that there might be a bit missing. Perhaps there was a head or something that has been lost. Still, a great little novelty by a world-renowned toy maker and well worth the £12 I paid for it.
Once again my good old mate Skip Rat has been keeping his eyes out down at the tip and among the goodies he discovered last month was a great little Muffin the Mule paint box issued by Rowney in the 1950s. As usual, it carries the copyright of the Muffin Syndicate dated 1949 and it’s the first one of its type that I have seen. I reckon it must be worth more than the fiver I paid for it.
Another excellent buy was a Shell petrol pump and oil bin both in lovely condition. I’m not sure who made them but the detail is superb, right down to the diecast filler nozzle which fits neatly into a hole in the casting. The oil bin has an Aeroshell transfer so I’m not sure if they are supposed to go together or not?
Talking of things that are supposed to go together, it was a case of not knowing whether to laugh or cry when I came across the top section of a Crawford’s Mabel Lucie Attwell Fairy Tree biscuit tin money box dating from 1935. I was hoping that the seller might still have the bottom bit that held the biscuits packed away in another box, but alas all he had was the top, albeit in pretty good condition. I just had to have it for £40 in the hope that someone, somewhere, has got a base to sell me or is looking for the top half of this very rare biscuit tin in really good nick.
Still on the subject of Mabel Lucie Attwell, a tiny book of parlour games issued as a promotional item by Mackintosh’s confectionery factory in Halifax sold for £5. It shows another of Mabel’s famous commercial creations, Toffee Town, where large mushrooms with windows and chimneys are inhabited by pixie-like creatures holding big tins of Mackintosh’s toffee de Luxe. Advertising was certainly much more innocent in those days than it is today! Interestingly, Mackintosh’s called its own factory in Halifax ‘Toffee Town’.
An element of mystery surrounds a six-wheel diecast lorry in Carter Patterson livery that was soon snapped up by a keen diecast collector. This model appeared to be a rather odd marriage between a Budgie Leyland Hippo chassis and the top portion of a mystery diecast railway wagon. But, in a strange kind of way, the marriage worked quite well. Well, enough to make a tenner anyhow.
Still on the subject of commercials, an Albion Motors enamel lapel badge showing the firm’s famous sunburst trade mark sold for what I thought was a reasonable £8 to a guy who owns a real old Albion lorry. A mint-boxed Dublo Dinky Austin lorry in mint boxed condition also found a happy new owner who was willing to hand over £40 for it. This model was the first Dublo Dinky released in 1957 and the first to be fitted with those strange looking grey plastic ‘non-scratch’ wheels. These wheels looked a lot better when tread was added to them although some early models did have the tyres picked out in black, which was a great improvement.
Finally, on the selling front, a really early and very rare miniature sample tin of soluble chocolate given away by Guerin-Boutron of London, Paris and New York in the 1890s soon found a new home when it went on sale in the cabinet. Tins as early as this don’t hang around for long and a keen sample tin collector was more than happy to hand over my £30 asking price to add it to her collection.
Well, that’s about all for now folks. Happy hunting during those late-autumn car boot sales, fleamarkets and swapmeets. So, until we meet again next month 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.