October issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz

17 September 2010
imports_CCGB_gazette-oct-10_90115.jpg October 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’. ...
October issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz Images

It's fast approaching autumn which sadly signals the end of the season for hundreds of boot sales all over Britain.

This year has certainly been a bumper year of booting for me with many great bargains bagged. In fact, I’d say 2010 has been one of my best booting seasons ever.

The overall star car boot buy for me was a virtually mint and boxed Matchbox King Size K-8 Prime Mover that I snapped up for a mere £20. The amazing thing was not only was it in superb condition with all the extra bits of cardboard packing in the box, but it had been out on a stall for over an hour! I could hardly believe my luck that morning... what a bargain. I’ve hung on to it for the time being partly because I always wanted one of these as a kid and because I remember it being the first Matchbox model to have plastic windows. However, it was always far too expensive for Mum and Dad to afford. The original price in 1962 was 11/3d, that’s 56p today!

Another reason for hanging on to it for a while is because I actually had a ride in the cab of one of these massive Scammells at the Great Dorset Steam Fair a few years ago, and that was an experience I’ll never forget.

So, where do we go without all the big car boot sales to aim at? I know a few indoor events that carry on through winter although these are fairly small in size and you can never rely on finding much.

If you’re prepared to travel a bit further from home there’s plenty of buying to be done with the birth of several new fairs and flea markets including a brace of new one-day shows at Donington and Swinderby for us to pencil in our diaries.

These big fairs are well worth the effort if you are prepared to put in the leg work.

My recent visit to the huge Lincoln Showground Antique Fair turned up a bag full of goodies, many of which were very reasonably priced. The best of these buys was a small Co-op tinplate vesta case advertising Co-op tea with an original Co-op matchbox inside. I’ve never seen one of these before and it’s got to be worth more than the tenner I forked out for it. Another good find at this show was an interesting old box juggling game with a clown juggling tiny bottles... far too delicate for my big clumsy hands to cope with but well worth a fiver of anyone’s money!

Another good fair you can always rely on to turn up a few bargains is the big flea market held on the showground at Shepton Mallet and my recent trawl of the stalls there unearthed a superb boxed Matchbox 37b 1-75 Coca-Cola truck that had to be bought for a mere £18. The first version of this model (37a) was released in 1957 with an open base and an uneven load of crates. Three years later the tooling was altered and it was re-modelled as 37b with a black metal base and an even load which helped the casting process. Those early versions of the Coca-Cola truck are starting to fetch good money, as are many other scarce Matchbox variants.

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When car boots are few and far between I know I can always rely on my old mate Skip Rat to come up with the goods and he rarely lets me down. The ‘Rat’ came up trumps again the other day hauling out a number of interesting finds from the rubbish down at the local tip including an old cast iron Shell Mex-BP vehicle plate that had been thrown into the metal recycling skip. I’m not sure if it came from a railway wagon or a petrol tanker semi-trailer but it should be of interest to a transport enthusiast.

Other interesting items that have sold this month include a pack of playing cards advertising the Ruston-Bucyrus 10RB excavator that was snapped up by a collector for £10. The Matchbox Major Pack version of this popular excavator was a great little model with exceptional play value and I remember having a few of them as a kid. Established in 1930 Ruston-Bucyrus was a partnership between Ruston Hornsby of Britain and Bucyrus-Erie of the USA. The 10RB was first produced in 1931 and around 6,000 were built before production finally came to an end in 1969.

Back to the subject of digging around for bargains and I know I’ve said this a few times before, but I know from experience that it always pays to look inside old tins to see if they hold any forgotten treasure. A fairly mundane looking Ogden’s tobacco tin proved this point perfectly the other day and turned out to be a super buy for a fiver when the stallholder threw in its contents – a collection of nearly 50 WWI paper flags. What a find! These flags were pinned on people who gave a few coppers during street collections to support the armed forces and a host of other charitable organisations including the Red Cross, Salvation Army and St John’s Ambulance.

One thing I admit I’m not very knowledgeable about is dolls, and a Rosebud plastic doll I bought in with a job lot of old shop stock from an auction soon sold to a doll collector for a fiver as I hadn’t a clue what it was worth. She explained to me that Rosebud was formed by a guy called Eric Smith in the late 1940s and the factory was based at Raunds in Northamptonshire.

The company added a rose symbol to the trade mark in 1960 so this clearly dates the doll to the 1960s. Now at least I can say I know something about dolls!

Still on the subject of toys from the 1940s, a nice compendium set of charming, although fairly primitive, toys and games found a happy buyer at £25. The set looked to date from the early post-war years and the colouring book showed a great illustration of the Fordson tractor of Dinky Toys fame.

Other items to find buyers happy to add them to their collections this month included a small tradesman’s sample pack of Lyons Red Label Tea which sold for £12 and a nice tinplate Burnett money box shaped as a double post box which was quickly snapped up by a tin collector for £15.

Well that’s about it for this month folks, happy hunting during early autumn 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.