14 March 2018
Large scale Tri-ang toys go under the hammer at Special Auction Servcies
If you go to any toy auction, held by any auctioneer, in any part of the country, you are likely to come across Dinky, Corgi or Matchbox models. There might be the odd rarity but by and large you can get your hands on these little gems easily enough. But what about those models and toys that you just don’t see, those that come to auction so infrequently that when they do, they cause a bit of a stir?
That might just be the case at Special Auction Services on 20 March when an impressive collection of large G&J Lines and Tri-ang vehicles and dolls houses go under then hammer. This impressive collection is believed to be the largest of its type ever offered at auction with may remarkable rarities, including dozens of wood, tinplate and steel vehicles from circa 1900 right through until to the late 1960s.
The collection is so large and comprehensive that it is being viewed as something of a social history of one of this country’s leading toy makers.
The origins of Tri-ang Toys can be traced back to around 1850 when the Lines family set up a toy making business at Bagnidge Wells, an spa village north of London. At this time the mainstay of the business was wooden toys. As time went on the company began making all manner of playthings for the children of the wealthy London upper and middle classes. These included rocking horses, velocipede horses, toy horse and cart combinations with iron wheels, dolls houses, toy forts, horses for fairs and steam circuses, garden swings and even wheelbarrows. G&J Lines as we know it was founded by brothers George and Joseph Lines in 1876 – George later retired leaving Joseph as the sole proprietor.
In 1919 Joseph Lines three sons William, Arthur and Walter returned to the company after serving in the Armed Forces during the Great War with the brothers eager to establish their own company. It was at this time that Lines Brothers Ltd adopted its world famous Tri-ang Trade Mark. The red triangle design reflects three equal lines representing the three Lines brothers. There were, however three other directors at the helm of the company: G.M. Campbell, R.C. Munro and R. Freeman. The latter two men both came from an engineering background so it was no surprise that Lines Brothers early Tri-ang offerings were very sturdy well-built toys constructed with a combination of wood and metal with plenty of play value.
The late 1920s saw the release of a delightful series of Tri-ang road vehicles known as the Dolls Motor Vans. These had wooden wheels and tinplate radiators. The next series included some splendid touring cars, a smart Charabanc and a motor taxi.
It was back to wooden construction for a small range of vans with Bull Nose radiators and many of these vehicles carried advertising for national newspapers and Carter Paterson parcel deliveries.
A tipping wagon and an impressive box van were produced in the ‘Titan’ series in the late 1920s boasting new innovations such as ‘real steering’ and smart rubber tyres. One of the most impressive toys of this period was a super red fire engine with a metal bell and removable ladder. This toy was still part wood and part metal in construction.
All-steel Tri-ang lorries were first made in 1930, finished in stove enamelled paint and steel wheels with rubber tyres. The six different trucks in this range were a van, petrol tanker, breakdown wagon, timber lorry, milk lorry and a Carter Paterson box van. Before long these pressed steel trucks (many of which were based on a Bedford lookalike vehicle) began rolling off the production line in their thousands.
When toy production resumed after World War II the pressed steel Tri-ang range re-emerged and by the 1950s the old bonneted cabs were replaced with new more modern looking forward control units. The 1950s became the heyday of pressed steel toy production with all manner of different cranes, trucks, pedal cars and tractors rolling off the production line.
Many of the 200+ toys featuring in the SAS auction date from this period, and although some have been refurbishment, many are still in their original condition. As such the sale estimates range from £200 upwards.
The sale isn’t just G&J Lines and Tri-ang – it also features toys by Burnett, Chad Valley and Swallow as well as a collection of German penny toys. Large steel vehicles may well have been this collector’s principle passion but it’s surely British toys in general which caught his interest.
Find out next month how the collection fares when we feature the highlights within our Price Guide pages.