September 2011 issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz

19 August 2011
imports_CCGB_oz-big_70514.jpg September 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’. ...
September 2011 issue: Regular feature - Obsolete Oz Images

I must confess to having been a bit of a strange kid, looking back to my childhood days. Yes, I read comics, played football, collected Dinky Toys, stamps and matchboxes just like every other lad on the terrace but I was also fascinated by dust carts, road sweepers and gully emptiers!

I remember walking miles alongside these noisy old street machines, hoping that the drivers might reward my enthusiasm with a ride in the cab. Any marbles, small toys or old pennies sucked up by the long pipe of the gully emptier were left at the side of the drain for the kids to grab, so I suppose there was some reward in following them around.

Memories of those distant happy days in Northamptonshire were rekindled when I snapped up a Dinky Bedford Dust Cart from a car boot sale for a couple of quid a few weeks back. What a great little diecast this was with more than average moving parts for a Dinky giving it great play value.

I’m not sure whether dust cart bodies were that common on Bedford O series chassis, and I’ve never seen one at a rally or on an old photograph, so perhaps Dinky was just making the most of a cab casting as it so often did?

This model was introduced to the Dinky range in 1948 and remained in the catalogue until 1965, highlighting what a popular toy it was. From 1960 it was given glazed windows and, although it is usually found in fawn and green, there are versions with an orange cab, grey back and green or black shutters.

I certainly was pleased to bag that Dinky Dust Cart for such a great price but a far better find materialised a few hours later when I spotted an old biscuit tin and, as usual with tins, I carefully opened the lid to have a peak inside. To my amazement it contained a small collection of chocolate bar wrappers and sweet wrappers undisturbed since the days they were collected way back in 1940!

It looks like they were all picked up by a girl called Joy who carefully pinned a piece of paper on each one with the date on which she found it and in some cases the place where it was discovered. What a great find this was – they are all wartime wrappers and one was actually found inside an ambulance. I was more than happy to hand over a tenner for them just for the sheer novelty of owning this amazing collection. How did they survive in that biscuit tin for all those years?

Another interesting discovery, this time dating from the 1930s, turned up at a local flea market – an autograph album that I’d never seen the likes of before. It was issued as a gift with the Champion comic in June 1937 and the realistic pre-printed autographs have all been carefully cut out and glued in so it’s fully complete. There are well over 100 autographs in total ranging, from popular sportsmen of the day to radio stars and world famous airmen and train drivers. There is even a page of autographs of famous ocean liner captains!

The centre pages have autographs from the New Zealand Test Match touring cricketers, and Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy autographs adorn the movie makers’ page. What a pity they are not real autographs; I reckon I could have retired on this little lot if they were the real thing!

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My old mate Skip Rat came up with a good find in the shape of a Sunlight Soap tin sign discovered down at the tip. It had been boarded up between some wood panelling in an old shop which protected it from being painted over with layers of paint. I gave him £30 for it as it looks to be a fairly old sign and it’s survived in great condition considering it’s made of tin and not enamel.

Another lucky find by the Rat was a super pack of Snap playing cards published by John Jacques & Son that were discovered down the back of an old settee that had been dumped at the tip.

They were in fantastic condition and complete with original box and a leaflet from the Jacques White Heather printing works and game factory which was based in Thornton Heath, Surrey. The characters on the cards are superb, ranging from fishermen and firemen to sailors and snake charmers all beautifully illustrated.

It’s certainly been another busy old month on the selling front with a Filtrate oil can made by an old company based in Leeds making £28. Filtrate was made by Edward Joy & Sons, which was founded way back in 1807.

A Toffee Rex toffee tin from Lovell’s, another long established firm, made a respectable £25 and a tiny Bagatelle game dating from the 1950s, still in its original bag with header card, sold for £8.

Dating from around the same time, a smashing little Lucky Ladybirds book in the Pixie series soon found a buyer willing to hand over a fiver for it. Originally priced at one shilling each, there were 12 books in the Pixie series published by Collins.

Before signing off I’d like to say how pleased I was to hear that the old Donington collectors’ fair is back on again in October thanks to a great initiative by Barry Potter Fairs. Everyone misses Donington, especially dealers like me who dabble in toys, tins and all manner of collectables. It sounds like the show will be a kind of hybrid toy show and advertising fair combined so it should be a great event in the old Exhibition Hall. All those who knew the old Donington would agree that it’s a place where literally anything could turn up… so be there on 9th October to grab a bargain or two.

Well, that’s it for another month folks. Autumn will soon be upon us so enjoy what is left of the summer booting season 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.