Monday 4 December 2017

Charm on the farm

If you had been looking for a green series II Land Rover then September 1962 would have provided the first opportunity when Corgi issued Gift Set 22. This was a huge set containing lots of farm models and extra bits and pieces. Two items in the early sets were unique: the all yellow flatbed trailer and a mid-green 438 Land Rover with no canopy.

Shown above between the Public Address model and a Series 1 406 it is a pretty similar shade to those two and quite distinct from the deep green that you would have found in a box at the shop later that year.

Indeed, many Gift Set 22s seem to have the deep green model so my guess is that Corgi replaced the mid-green version at some point. The Gift Set did not sell particularly well as it was expensive at 50 shillings. That's almost one and a half Transporter Sets. So, for a number of reasons, the mid-green Land Rover in 438 Series II form is a rare item. Indeed, for a long time I have not been totally convinced that it existed. I had peered at small images on various sites trying to decide whether what appeared a lighter green was, in fact, just the light or even an old 406 that had been put in the set.

This example of the Land Rover is pretty worn, missing a spare wheel and quite a lot of paint. The hook is also missing its tip. The screens are fairly clear, however, and the suspension sound. I tell myself that clean, shiny Land Rovers never look quite right anyway!

The trailer is cheerful. It looks slightly too big behind the Land Rover but it is the same as the other later-issue 101 Platform Trailers issued, having the fixed drawbar and free-spinning shaped wheels.

The search is now on for a slightly better example to be kept in a collection so these will be available to buy soon and the proceeds put towards the next ones. On past form, however, it may be a few years before another of either of these items comes along other than in a Gift Set at a thousand or two pounds (which is what this one is going for!)

This week we have seen gold-plated Corgis on the market for pretty huge sums but it is really sets like this that I prize. Despite what some may think the gold models might fetch, these farm models and similar regular issues have that certain charm and, in my view, are what Corgis are really all about.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Very orange and very expensive

Some nice people in Yorkshire have asked me to sell their little orange Mini. I knew these were quite scarce and even my very battered examples often sell for £50 so I realised that this was something a little special, despite the annoying Whizzwheels.

It did come as some surprise, however, to see just how much one of these in A+ condition with a pretty good late box was worth. QDT had one for £450 a few years ago. The buyer paid £335 which would have finished up as a cheque for not far off £450 by the time the usual auction fees, tax and delivery had been added.

So this is one little valuable item indeed.

I have to say, though, that I didn't know why.  The 204 Whizzwheels Mini was first issued in February 1972, accompanied at the time by the Chevrolet Camaro, Mini Marcos and Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Whizzwheels editions, all of which had seriously short production periods and are now some of the most expensive to buy in good condition. None quite make the heights of the Mini's figures (ignoring for now the blue Mini Marcos which probably would if ever one were to appear).

I can only imagine that the production numbers for the Mini in this short space of time have had to be divided between the three different bases (matt black, glossier black and silver), the different colours (metallic blue, non-metallic blue, orange with a black roof and all orange), the different screens (clear or tinted), the different interiors (yellow or red) and, yes, even different wheel styles (4 or 5 spoke). 

OK. Now I understand. In theory that could lead to 96 different models but I am pretty sure that some of these combinations don't exist. Let's say there would be just 20 editions. Even for a production run of a quite massive 100,000 (for those times) that would be a mere 5,000 of each of the different models. Naturally some would be rather more and some rather less but my best guess as to the maximum that could possibly have been made of this particular (more 'normal') model would be 10,000. That is not very many at all. It's very likely that it is a lot less and other people have done the same sums at some time and that, friends, must be why we're now talking about such high price for this little orange car.

Collectors also like Minis. And complete collections. So they'll need this one. Available now. At a price.

Corgi Toys @ 60: Citroen DS19 and Gift Set 1

December 1957 and we see the first foreign car. A good choice and still an icon today, model number 210, the Citroen DS19 came in two brightly coloured editions: pale yellow-beige with a cherry red roof and metallic blue-green with a black roof.

This was the first saloon not to have an M version. I believe that there was simply not enough room to fit the mechanism in due to the minimal depth of the rear part of the car. Nevertheless, there are two types of base for the Citroen: one completely flat at the rear axle and another with a small lump.

The lump is similar to the 'differential' unit that the M cars had but is somehow a bit inappropriate as the Citroen was a front wheel drive car!

The 210 model gets an interior and suspension three years later. Most 210 models will have smooth fixed wheels but you may find a few with fixed shaped wheels if you're lucky.

Some catalogues also list a red 210 but I am sure this is an error, or maybe a sample of some sort. Red was the colour used for the 210S but I suppose there could have been a few  red bodies made without suspension or interior during the changeover period.

The other new addition to the Corgi catalogue in December 1957 was the Gift Set, and, in this instance, suitably called Gift Set No.1. This comprised a Carrimore Car Transporter and four British cars.

The box illustrated a pale blue Austin Cambridge, red Riley Pathfinder, dark green Rover 90 and brown Ford Consul. Quite what you would actually find in the box in 1957 (and certainly nowadays!) is largely a matter of conjecture.

You would get four models in blue boxes and two 'spacer' boxes. These empty boxes were initially yellow with black text, then yellow with red text and then the Corgi dog logo replaced the text. I don't know the dates for these changes.

Many sets that I have seen have two sports cars and two saloon cars rather than four saloons but it is impossible now to know what they may have contained originally. I know that some collectors are keen to try to match the lid, although they will be hard pressed to find a grey transporter section! You will find both the red and blue as well as blue and yellow versions, however.

For the American market Gift Set 1 became Gift Set 1A and initially the letter A was added to the lid, together with a label to say that the set contained American cars. This would have been rather later - more like 1959 or even 1960 - as it would not be for several years that there would have been four American cars. By that time a new box lid, featuring a selection from America, France and Britain was printed and Gift Set 1B was the strange 'export' edition. Again, quite what would really be inside I cannot be sure.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Oddments from the Wilford Collection Pt 7

I use the word oddments intentionally as these items look pretty much like any other slightly worn racing cars or very worn Magic Roundabout vehicles. They certainly make an odd group and I don't expect a great deal from these when I advertise them for sale later this week.

But just in case someone spots something to distinguish any of these from the run of the mill issue I thought I would provide a preview here. More photos will be available on request.

I'll start with a 155 Lotus Formula 1. The tyres look unusual, the later branded type although I had not seen them fitted to this model before. The exhaust and engine chrome is worn.

The 156 Maserati I have seen with the later type of tyres. This seems nothing exceptional with worn chrome and the RN is split where the chassis meets the body, a common fault.

The 154 Ferrari Formula 1 has lost its driver and has signs of wear on the chrome, tiny chips on the paintwork and an odd blob of red paint on one wheel. This is the first edition, with normal wheels and early tyres.

And now for something completely different. 

Noddy has lost his bell and a headlamp and there are signs of some careless driving.

On the underside of Noddy's car there is a dab of white with a pencilled number. That is the only sign of this being anything other than a normal production model. Of course, there is nothing to prove that that hasn't been added later.

Next we have the even odder McHenry on his tricycle pulling an even stranger box affair out of which pops Zebidee. The stickers are missing and old McHenry has certainly been bumping into a few things over the last 40 years or so.

Finally we have Dougal's awful wreck of what once was quite a decent model of a Citroen. As if chopping it in bits for some French cycling race car wasn't bad enough, that version now gets stuffed with hard plastic characters, none of whom are looking where they are going and, from the expressions on their faces, I doubt they would recognise anyone or anything when they arrived either.

The car has suffered from the Snail's diabolical driving and the characters themselves look pretty much the worse for wear. The stickers should be bright and cheerful in a drunken sort of way, as would suit Magic Roundabout, but are now rather faded.

On the underside, however, we have a piece of what looks like old Elastoplast but may be just pink-brown paper with Mr Wilford's name neatly written. 

Now you may be wondering just as much as I am wondering why Mr Robert Wilford (my client's father and Percy Wilford's son) would have written his name on this. He must have been in his 30s and in a pretty senior position on the Samples team so it's not like a child might wish to mark his toys or a teenager mark his LP albums.

My guess is that this was the approved sample before mass production but it also fell into hands of some younger Wilfords at some point.

So there we go. There are some more items to come but I felt it was time to get these on the market for those who may not be able to afford the remaining gold Ferrari.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Gold prices

Some remarkable prices were paid for the 'gold' Corgis from the Wilford Collection this week. In case you haven't seen them in previous posts I have included illustrations below, with the approximate prices the buyers will have had to fork out.

One is still with me, though, and that is the model that I had actually expected to be the first to go as, unlike the others, I was able to find some reference to a few others being made and one had been offered by an auction house a few years ago at a small fortune. So this one has history and, of them all, has the best finish. So you still have a chance to own one of what we think may be just half a dozen of these 314 Ferrari Berlinetta Le Mans in gold metal, possibly brass but if appears not to tarnish so perhaps another gold-coloured alloy of some sort.






On the subject of gold, I have recently acquired another Golden Guinea Gift Set 20. There is no box, unfortunately, and I have yet to find someone who makes reproduction boxes too. The three cars are in particularly good condition and prices still seem remarkably low for these. I can understand that the Ford Consul Classic is not the prettiest of cars and the Chevrolet Corvair was never exactly popular but the Bentley Continental is glorious in this finish. With only 23,000 of these sets sold, they all ought to be seriously expensive as that makes each model's sales fewer than the 351S RAF Land Rover, and you know how difficult it is to find (and afford) one of those!

Saturday 18 November 2017

New Corgi Catalogue and Stock sections and 15% off for a while.

The new home page

The Web police have been nagging me for some time to make my sites 'responsive'. They say pages are expected to detect what sort of device they're being viewed on and adapt the page layout to suit a range of different screen dimensions, catering for huge wide monitors and TVs, often initially thin vertical smartphone screens that might switch to horizontal from time to time and, the squarer screens of tablets.

When you have thousands of pages, change isn't the simplest job in the world and I resisted for a long time, as I was actually quite happy with the design of the old one. A few months ago, however, I did change the front page and a few more associated with new items arriving and hoped that would be all that was necessary. Recently, however, the software that I used for the old site has been struggling to manage all the pages. Just adding a new model or correcting errors could take several hours and that's on a very fast computer too. Serif seem to have given up on web design software and have issued no new versions of the product I used, nor any support in future, so I set out to see what else I could use.

I had written elsewhere about how Google really ought to help us create these new styles of sites if they were going to penalise us for staying with the old types. When I looked at what used to be a rather plain and tedious Google Sites product I realised that it had been thoroughly revised and, indeed, appeared to represent a way in which I could proceed.

So, with no local software whatsoever, I have built the 'Catalogue' section with their pretty smart product. This should feature an image of each model and its main variations, with links to photo albums where I have had an example.

The Catalogue

There is a Google Search facility built in too and that works wonderfully well. I don't quote prices in this Catalogue section but there is a sheet on the Stock page where you can see what prices I am selling various items for with an indication of condition. I know some colleagues have been using the old site as a quick check on what something might sell for but, because so much depends on condition, and whether there's an original box, for instance, and I do quote rather high prices for several items I am quite keen to keep in a collection, they are not terribly useful when viewing something in an entirely different condition. Toymart do a pretty good job in that respect, although they are not always as up-to-date as they might be.

I couldn't see a way to incorporate a store on the new Google site creator, though, so have put all the Stock into a Tictail site which is pleasantly clean, simple to maintain and free. My old site store facility was also part of the Serif system and never was able to handle different postage rates so I usually finished up dealing direct with people there instead, with envelopes of dollars, euros or Swiss francs floating around! The new one is much more professional-looking.

Stock and on-line store

Not quite everything has been transferred there yet but that job will be complete in a week or so. That was another problem with the old site. Because pages were useful both as a reference page and for sales, if something got sold I wouldn't delete the page, just the 'Add to Basket' button. But it wasn't as obvious as it might have been that I didn't have that model any more and the number of links to alternative items was getting most confusing. I think there were 27 different Morris Mini Minors at the last count and links to each needed to be on every 226 page. Now if something sells it will automatically get removed from the Stock site and I can now simply make changes to the other places needed if they sell elsewhere, like on Ebay.

The very first page remains a complex piece of code that I need some local software to edit but I am hoping that it will seldom need much done and that can be done with Dreamweaver or any basic html editor as and when required. Everything else can be edited from anywhere and on almost any device.

I shall miss the old pages with the full screen backgrounds of interesting models but not the chaotic periods of updating. The old site will still be there. I don't see any reason to delete it but parts will gradually get dated and it will all go eventually. I will probably make a nice slide show of models to replace it. That'll be nice, and another challenge to create efficiently!

I understand that if you buy something from the Tictail store the code TTCORGITOYS will get you a 15% discount. That's quite an attractive offer so feel free to use it. I believe it can be applied to any store they run too. I guess it won't last forever. It doesn't affect what I receive either, which is why I am delighted to be able to tell you about it.

And another Pony Trailer.

Just as I thought I had finally got a complete collection of Rice Pony Trailers, along comes this fascinating edition.

The fixed, shaped wheels first caught my eye and then the fixed drawbar which I had thought was only available on the brown and cream trailer with a silver chassis. Clearly, sometime in 1962 before the new brown and cream colour scheme was introduced, the red trailer did get a fixed drawbar but I would guess that it would not have been around for many months. The upgraded dropside and flatbed trailers were not released until December 1962 and it looks a very similar design.

The rest of the trailer looks identical to the previous edition, with the 'handle' on the ramp. The wheels are still fixed, however, whereas I believe all the brown and cream trailers have free-spinning wheels.

I think you may have a hard job finding another of these. Another for the 'Scarce Corgis' list, I think.

Saturday 4 November 2017

The Wilford Collection Pt 6: a gold Batmobile

For many, this will be the 'star' of the Wilford Collection. This is a 267 Batmobile, entirely as issued in 1972 or 1973, judging by the 8-spoke hubs which were fitted at that time, but produced in what I believe is solid brass or some gold-coloured alloy that is also non-magnetic.

The base features the text used prior to 1976 when it appears that they were informed that copyright information had to be included.

The various features are all believed to function, although I have not been able to test the missiles. Batman is also missing but an original character can be found and would certainly be an essential purchase for this.

There are no dents or scratches and this appears to have been stored, wrapped in a cloth in a drawer for many years. I have been unable, so far, to trace anything similar being referred to in other publications but from what limited information I can gather it would appear that this would have been one of very few, possibly 3 or 4 that were made for VIP guests associated with whatever deal Corgi had made by way of getting permission to sell the 267 model and later variations on the theme.

In my view, this is a seriously rare, and hence very valuable item. I hesitate to put a price on this at this stage and it will be interesting to see what offers are made. At the time of writing it can be seen at London Auctions premises in Chiswick. I have agreed that it will be included in their auction of a range of Corgi and other toys later this month, where several other items from the Wilford Collection will be available.

More details of their catalogue for the day can be seen at this link. Unsold items will be returned to me after that date but for a couple of weeks that is where you will find this wonderful model.