Single owner collection of character toys set for auction

05 June 2023
The Mike Williams Collection at Special Auction Services
Single owner collection of character toys set for auction Images

A single owner collection of Character Toys will be going under the hammer at Special Auction Services in Newbury on Tuesday 20th June and is estimated to fetch £25,000.

The Mike Williams Collection comprises over 88 iconic children’s characters from television, film, nursery rhymes, newspaper comic strips and comics as well as books by prolific authors including Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter dating from 1900-1950s.

Mike‘s collection was amassed over 25 years and he and his wife spent many of their UK holidays scouring antiques fairs in pursuit of rare and sought after pieces. So great was his passion that it rubbed off on his wife, who became an avid collector of teddy bears! She says, “On every holiday our first port of call was the nearby antiques centre. Collecting was his life and it became our way of life.”

She describes their house as “like walking into a toy museum” as Mike’s collection was displayed throughout. Not only was there a cabinet in the in the hall as well as the upstairs landing and shelving in the study, but also the wall between the kitchen and dining room was replaced with a double-sided cabinet so that the collection could be seen from both rooms. The displays stirred many happy childhood memories for visitors to the house particularly those coming on an ad hoc basis to carry out DIY jobs.

The collection mainly comprises British characters. Highlights include a Farnell Jemima Puddle-duck (£300-500), Farnell Barbar the Elephant (£300-400) and daughter Flora and Cousin Arthur (£200-£300), Bill & Ben with Weed in hollow-cast lead (£300-400), Old Bill, Bonzo and an early Chad Valley Teddy Tail (£200-300).

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Mike’s favourite, and one of his last purchases, was the character Old Bill produced by prominent British cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather in 1914 which is expected to fetch £200-£300. Old Bill was one of the characters that appeared in Bairnsfather’s weekly slots which were published in The Bystander magazine during the First World War.

Other newspaper comic strip favourites include Pip, Squeak and Wilfred (£150-200), Tich (£200-300) and Bruin Boy’s Tiger Tim (£30-80 range) from the Daily Mirror, Teddy Tail (£200-300) and The Nipper (£80-100) from the Daily Mail and Rupert the Bear from the Daily Express.

His wife Dorcas says, “As his health faded, his passion for collecting still remained steadfast. Each piece in the collection meant so much to Mike and rather than them being kept in the loft he wanted passionate collectors like himself to have the opportunity to enjoy the pieces that will mean as much to them as they did to him.”

Toy and Teddy bear specialist Daniel Agnew says, “This sale is a showcase of Mike’s knowledge and collecting ability. He carefully chose makes and characters who have stood the test of time and which will undoubtedly generate huge interest amongst collectors.”

Other highlights include Walt Disney’s famous character feature Mickey Mouse (1928) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937); then the BBC Watch and Listen with Mother characters like Muffin the Mule and Hank the Cowboy.