It's full steam ahead at Wallis & Wallis toy auction


The Sussex-based auctioneers reported a good toy sale late in 2019: diecast, railway items, white metal models, tinplate, teddy bears and transport memorabilia all featured.

On the teddy bear front, some 26 went under the hammer, all from the Steiff stable, although only five sold on the day. All were of recent manufacture and some were replicas of older originals: star lot, which fetched £70, was the purple alpaca-coloured North American Prince the Purple bear who stood 18 inches high and was numbered 155 out of a run of 1,952.

Steam-powered memorabilia stole the show, though. Two delightful items stood out: a Bing live steam tinplate vertical engine mounted on a cast iron base sold for £140 but this was eclipsed by the lovely Doll & Co horizontal electricity generating steam plant. Complete with dynamo and working street light, the vendor believed it to be the actual model featured on the cover of the Shire Publications book “Toy Steam Engines”. In superb working order, this exquisite example of the toymaker’s art was taken to £700.

A bid of £300 was enough to secure the large wooden flying scale model of the Avro Vulcan 2. With a wingspan of 186cm and an overall length of 166cm, here was an unusual toy, fitted with a petrol engine and a twin bladed propeller (in case you were wondering how it could fly!). A companion Concorde, actually an ex-Harrods Travel Agents’ window display item and also in wood, sadly failed to sell, though.

As for the Dinky Toys, the highlight was arguably the tinplate Filling and Service station. Although it had some minor surface scratches and chips to its corners and edges, it was still a great example of the toy and was contested to £300. One or two surprises were noted in this category, though: a number of Dinky Toys for restoration, which included a couple of buses, two Daimler Ambulances, a Bedford tipper, Commer breakdown truck, a taxi, NCB float, streamline bus and refuse wagon, amongst others, achieved £170 whilst a 1930s Double Decker Bus (reference 29c) in cream and red with a grey roof raised a healthy £160, even though it exhibited chipping and some fatigue.