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£100,000 Auction Shows The Profit Hidden in Toy Car Collections


One of the largest collections of toy vehicles in the world went under the hammer recently for a massive £100,000.

The lifelong collection of model cars enthusiast Horace Dunkley was sold at a special event at the beginning of April by toy auction specialists Vectis, in Stockton-on-Tees. The 65-year-old Mr Dunkley, from Stamford in Lincolnshire, had decided to sell more than 2,000 cars from his treasured hoard in order to help pay for his retirement.

The auction was a great success, with many toy cars selling for more than the price of their real life equivalents. One 1976 Matchbox white 1930 Model "J" Duesenberg car sold for £4,935, while the genuine model would only have set the buyer back £3,750.

Mr Dunkley began collecting toy cars in the mid-1970s and soon developed into a full-blown obsession. However, the sums obtained at the auction showed what a good investment they had turned out to be, as well as a great hobby. 

There has been a surge of interest in model vehicles in recent years, with toy cars made by Matchbox, Dinky and Tonka often selling for five-figure sums. In March 2008, a pre-war "type 22" W E Boyce Dinky delivery van scooped the record for the highest-selling toy of its kind when it was sold at auction for an amazing £19,975.

For anyone hoping to make their fortune from their own toy collection, however, there are some important rules to follow – and the most important rule will not make for happy children!

This is because the golden rule is that toys destined for eventual sale should never be played with; they should be in perfect condition – and that means still with the original packaging. If the car is battered or chipped, it could be reduced in value by 90 per cent, whereas the value of the item could rise by 100 per cent if it is still in the original box.

Anyone looking for bargains at car boot sales or on eBay should be very careful when examining claims that items are one of a kind or “limited edition.” There are a large number of fakes on the market, and the services of an expert may be necessary to sort the wheat from the chaff. By the same token, there is little profit in just buying up every model car that you see. It is much better to focus on certain types of vehicle, or certain brands. Collectors usually want to complete a “set”, such as buses, coaches, trucks bearing advertising or military vehicles.

Because of the sheer range of Dinky and Matchbox models out there, it is also well worth investing in one of the respected guidebooks out there, such as Mike and Sue Richardson’s Dinky Toys and Modelled Miniatures, or Warman's Matchbox Field Guide: Values and Identification by Tom Larson. Such guides can also be of invaluable assistance when it comes to valuing one’s own collection – as can the toy companies themselves, all of which offer some kind of identification service.



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