A lifetime of Dinky Toys set to go under the hammer in Exmouth
PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 May 2016
It may look like a little toy car that’s seen better days, but it could be worth considerably more than the actual vehicle that it’s modelled on.
“It’s a Dinky 139 Ford Consul Cortina and doesn’t exist in this form,” says Exmouth auctioneer Piers Motley, in excited tones.
“It’s a South African issue and it’s meant to be green,” he explains, as he carefully picks up the playworn diecast model. “But this one, in this colour, doesn’t seem to exist. It’s got a green interior and a white body.
“It doesn’t appear to have been over-painted. This could possibly be the rarest vehicle in the whole sale. Who knows what it’ll be worth? One person said £5,000 for a single beaten-up car, that’s boxed.”
The little white Cortina is just one of 3,000 Dinky Toys, coming up for auction in Exmouth on June 13 and 14. Split into 1,600 lots – the enormous collection of cars, buses, emergency vehicles, army vehicles, commercial vehicles and box sets could be worth as much as £250,000.
The delightful diecasts were owned by Dinky Toys enthusiast John Kinchen. A septuagenarian from Portsmouth, John died last year at his home, surrounded by his toys. The collection was inherited by his cousins, Mike Evershed and his sister Susan Seaward, who live in Exmouth.
Spread out in Piers’s Bicton Street auction rooms in original point-of-sale Dinky Toys oak display cabinets, the extent of John’s collection – from pre-war models to modern vehicles – is breathtaking.
“Here’s a Leyland Octopus,” says Piers, excitedly. “What makes it different is that only 500 of these were produced. It’s for Corn Products Sweeteners. Even though it’s just a plastic tanker on the back, in mint condition, boxed it would be worth £10,000 to £12,000. Our example, not mint, is still going to be £2,000 to £3,000.
“And here’s a Dinky 408 Big Bedford lorry in a pink and cream livery,” he says, opening up another cabinet full of treasures. “Mint and boxed, it’s worth at least £1,000 to £1,500.
“The earliest one we’ve got is a Wakefield Castrol lead-based van, and that one is worth £3,000 to £4,000.”
There are also rare boxed sets, ranging in price from about £40 to £4,000 each.
“We’ve got Dinky gift set no 1, which is farm vehicles, worth maybe up to £2,500, Dinky gift set no 2, which is commercial vehicles, no 3 passenger cars, no 4 a gift set of racing cars, and on it goes.
“There’s even a shop display of Dinky racing cars. It’s an incredibly rare thing, because of course they were designed to be shown in the shops and then thrown away once the models disappeared. So a board like this is worth £2,000 to £3,000, even though some of the cars aren’t quite mint.”
John Kinchen started collecting Dinky Toys at an early age. Due to go to a children’s party, he couldn’t attend because of illness. As a consolation, his father gave him some pre-war, playworn Dinky Toys. John treasured them, and his collection began. Initially he bought Dinkys at local shops, before searching for rarer items at toy fairs.
Over the years he became an expert in the field, once appearing on TV’s Blue Peter and regularly writing for Diecast Collector magazine. He was also a huge fan – and personal friend – of the late 1950s British singer Yana, who bought him French Dinky toys as gifts.
Piers recalls the first time he saw the extent of John’s collection, at his tiny 1960s two-bedroom flat in Portsmouth.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “As we opened the door, on the right-hand side, I glimpsed three Dinky cabinets, stacked on top of each other. There was also a melamime cupboard, about to burst at the seams with Dinky gift sets. As I looked round the corner, it just carried on and on and on. This was in just a tiny box room.
“John – with a single bed in a box room – had been surrounded by his toys. There was a double bedroom filled with toys as well, but lesser ones. His real collection was right beside him, the whole time he slept. His childhood carried on the whole time.
“Since then, we’ve been cataloguing it. The boxes we found later in other cupboards in the flat, and we had to bring them back here and then re-associate more than 1,000 models with their boxes.
“It’s been the most exhausting and complicated sale I’ve ever had to set up, because you have to look at every single item with a fine toothpick.
“It’s not like I’m picking up a piece of silver which I’ve seen numerous times before, and know exactly what I’m doing, so every item has had to be catalogued very carefully.”
John’s cousins were also surprised by the extent of the collection, and how much it could be worth.
“We would have been content with just the money from the flat, but this is a nice bonus,” says Mike Evershed. “It’s nice that it’s going to go to people that are collecting. It’s going to make other people’s collection fuller and more valuable.”
There’s been so much interest in John’s Dinky collection that the two-day auction will be live on the internet.
“You can’t expect a collection like this to either have enough people to bid on it or people with the money to bid just in the Exmouth or even the Devon region,” says Piers. “It is going to be a global sale.
“It’s not as though John quite managed to fulfil the whole of the Dinky catalogue, but given another lifetime, I think he would have done.”
The John Kinchen Dinky Collection. Piers Motley Auctions, Monday, June 13, and Tuesday, June 14. More details: www.piersmotleyauctions.co.uk