I’m pretty sure there are many like me who have a predisposition to hoard. The Aladdin’s Cave of any home is the attic or loft where all the unwanted stuff gets piled away and is forgotten — out of sight, out of mind. My attic is the home to many of my kids’ (now grown up) old toys and comics, lovingly preserved and boxed so that one day they can be passed on or auctioned to the highest bidder. If there was a business where you could log inventory for posterity it could be extremely successful and profitable for both investing clients and acting vendors alike. I’ve learned the hard way as there was a time when I wouldn’t have had the foresight that is so important when protecting some valuables that weren’t in current use. So here’s my story of how it could have been so different had I hung on to my own toys and comics before letting my mother loose on them.
From an early age, even as young as six, I had a passion for collecting Dinky toys especially model cars of the era around the late ’40s and early ’50s. How many folk, particularly the fellas can remember those precision engineered model cars such as the Austin Devon/Somerset, Bedford van (especially the Kodak/Heinz liveried variety) plus the trucks, buses, cranes and not forgetting the military jeeps and tanks? Meccano was a British company formed by Frank Hornby in 1901, a clerk from Liverpool, England, who invented and patented a new toy called “Mechanics Made Easy” which was based on the principles of mechanical engineering. It was a model construction kit consisting of perforated metal strips, plates and girders, with wheels, pulleys, gears and axles for mechanisms and motion, and nuts and bolts to connect the pieces. Around 1934 the first die-cast model cars were introduced and these became famous around the world. Eventually manufacturing spread to France, China and the Far East.
My collection of approximately six hundred included both British and American models, pride and joy being bestowed on the Foden Flat Truck (worth more than a grand today) and the Cadillac convertible. I protected all the models from damage and housed each one in its original box. My father even built me a large wooden garage so that I could house them all, but after six years of collecting, other accommodation had to be sought. In time I had amassed a collection of precision built die-cast model cars that would have graced the most ardent collector’s display cabinet. Unfortunately all is not well regarding this short story and before I explain, let me lead you on to my other passion for collecting.
I would have been about eight years old when I started reading the comics that were put out to entertain young kids. The range was enormous, from war heroes to super heroes and by far my favourite character was Superman. Batman wasn’t far behind and by the time I had reached the tender age of fifteen, I had collected around 2,000 comics. I was meticulous in their upkeep and protection and would never lend or swap as was the custom in those days. Hence my ‘library’ of pristine paperbacks would have been a credit to anyone’s collection. All the comics and Dinky cars were carefully packed and kept safe in a cupboard at home awaiting my departure when the time was right. That time would have been when I married and took responsibility for my life in different ways. Our first marital accommodation was very small and would only take the essentials required when setting up a new home so I decided to leave my collection in the safe hands of my mother. Bless her little cotton socks. I hope that she’s reading this wherever she is now and sharing a laugh with the angels.
Between us, my wife and I managed to eke out a good living and after five or six years we were able to upgrade to a larger dwelling. At last, I could go to my mother’s place and bring back my collection. Unfortunately the subject of the days when I would collect toys and comics was never discussed for some reason and so my collection was put to the back of my mind. I can still see the disappointed look on my mother’s face when she tried to explain that she assumed I no longer wanted the collection which had occupied my time for more than six years. They were handed (“very carefully” she insisted) to the refuse collectors about a year after my leaving home. There’s no need to identify each item as it serves no purpose. Suffice to say, after visiting a local toy auctioneer, I learned that my collection — bearing in mind the quality and condition — would have netted around £70,000 — £80,000 at the present time.
This was my “Cringe” moment and for posterity I have recorded the explanation on YouTube. I would be very interested to hear of other people’s experiences which mirror my adventures in the world of Dinky cars and comics of the ’40s and ’50s era, possibly even later. You are all welcome to comment both here and at YouTube where you will find my “cringing” moment as I explain everything in the warmth of the sun at my local park.