Here is the new 'old' 417 Land Rover Breakdown Truck, just over 60 years later in its Corgi Model Club re-issue form. The Club have chosen to make the very earliest edition with smooth wheels and this is another great effort. Only the slightly large end to the winding bar and slight lack of definition of the protrusions running along the sides of the rear section distinguish this from the original to my initial view today.
Friday 20 August 2021
Tuesday 17 August 2021
Jensen's was and still is a food company in Denmark* known for its cheap pâté, it had a very limited run promotional 251 Imp made and as is usual with Corgi promos was issued in a non-standard colour. Always hard to find and our Danish friends constantly remind us that they have NEVER seen a playworn Mini. The really big question is that how could a small Danish food company commission a myriad of Minis over all the years of their manufacture, all of them in factory standard colours and all versions from red smooth wheel Austins to late lilac louvre wheel Morris … it just [does] not make sense . . .
In the mid 80s a trader named David Highnam had an A4 exercise book full of original Corgi transfers and stickers, I bought a fair few and swapped a few with friends (they know who they are) and amongst them was some original Jensen decals … Highnam told me he had approximately 250 of them and this must be where they all started their journey. . .
I have written to them too :) It would be so good to have a reply that throws more light on the promotion but that is probably expecting too much as a member of staff 40 in 1964 will be 98 now. Oh dear. Let's hope a young lad or lass in the office remembers something or that the Germans kept good records.
It is clear to me now that none of the Minis I have seen advertised to date have been genuine. None referred to the correct type of shop and I really do now have to doubt just how much that chap Mike Battsford really did know about the promotion as he had Jensen's down as a Dutch car company.
We are left with the business of the white 'J' label that some have on the end of box. I am not swayed by this either, mainly because it is quite different to anything else that Corgi added to distinguish models and I have yet to see any difference on a 251 Hillman Imp box which, surely would have had the same treatment. I have to say that, just as sellers embellished their descriptions with 'Jensen's' leaflets and cards, or just referred to the [wrong] company in the text, one or two may well have added a label to the end of a box for good measure.
The lack of 'play-worn' Jensen's Minis is actually a good point. None that have been advertised have been much short of mint or, at least, in good to very good condition with minimal wear and only the occasional touch-in here or there. In contrast, a good proportion of the Hillman Imps I have seen in photos have been worn. Especially as we see far more Minis than Imps on the market, one would really expect more to be in less than great condition. As Martin says, no-one has yet seen any - not even in Denmark. It does rather defy logic to think that only the nice examples have surfaced.
QDT rather dismissed this as "I haven't seen it so it doesn't exist". I think that's a bit unfair. A lot of us are saying we haven't seen something in a particular condition as one would have expected.
I don't know whether I will hear from anyone else on this matter. I would very much like to have something from some more ex-Corgi people and Jensen's themselves as this matter does need some sort of firm conclusion and it would be nice to know if I'm right about the 1964 date.
For me, this matter is 99% decided now. There are no Jensen's Minis other than those 'created' by various people over the years. If someone wants to pay a grand or more for a normal 225 or 226 model with what may or may not be an original Jensen's transfer on the doors then I cannot stop them but I do appeal to the auction houses and any seller who actually cares for their customers not to try and say they're genuine promotional issues. If I do see any I will do my best to have them more accurately described, at the very least. There'll be little anyone can do about the price they ask or that someone may bid.
One idea I have is to create a lot of these myself and flood the market with them at whatever they cost me to produce - about £50 or £100, maybe, with a good box. The trouble is that this may simply mean more appear at a higher price as unscrupulous people buy mine and then continue to try and sell them at huge prices to people who'll never have read this and all I achieve is to add to their stock and profits. So, OK, forget that idea. But if you can help me spread the news that these Minis are simply all fake then that'll be a good start.
I have revised my Corgi Catalogue pages now so that only the Hillman Imp in pale blue is recognised as a promotional variation for Jensen's.
Monday 16 August 2021
QDT have written to me again and say:
We have now received information which leads us to feel very confident regarding the early blue 226 model, and, to a slightly lesser degree, the 225 models (especially red) too.This is based on an article in DieCast Collector magazine in 1999 by someone they regard as a 'well known Mini expert', Mike Battsford (although they then add 'apologies to him if the spelling is incorrect') which shows the red and blue Minis in his collection.
I have found no reference to him in a brief search of the name and, if he was that well-known, one might have expected both QDT to remember how to spell his name and some reference to appear online fairly readily. So I am not really very convinced. This chap Mike might merely have had a couple of fakes in the photo and we're none the wiser. I am prepared to accept their view as to his knowledge and caution, however, and keep an open mind.
This does not necessarily prove anything but we know Mike to have been a very knowledgeable and cautious collector.
QDT also tell me in some detail about someone who acquired a Mini with 'Jensen's' transfers from a house clearance in 1999. I accept that this proves that the '2008 appearance of reproduction transfers' is irrelevant but it doesn't mean that someone wasn't creating good copies back in the 1990s. After all, this is still a good 30 years or more after the originals. The models would have been considered scarce then, I'm sure, and there would have been plenty of incentive to make some transfers and stick them on something like a Mini that doesn't need to be repainted first.
QDT go on to say:
In summary we are now convinced, beyond reasonable doubt, that the early 226 is perfectly valid. It is, unfortunately, no doubt true that examples of 225 and 226 Jensen’s models have been made, post 2008, using original transfers. This does not mean though that there are not original examples too.
I do feel they're putting too much faith in Mike, whoever Mike is, as far as the Minis are concerned. There is no other evidence there that stands up and rather too many queries. So I have to continue, not a great deal wiser, and I thought I might next share some of the different examples that I have found.
|2004. A very pale blue example with what looks like a genuine transfer. The only example I've seen with fixed shaped wheels.|
|A QDT item from a few years ago with what appears to be genuine transfers but, despite their comments about Mike the Mini man, this is referred to as a Danish jewellery firm promotion.|
|This one appeared in Newbury in 2014 with some very poor quality transfers.|
|Lacy, Scott & Knight had this - again almost identical item - in 2015. One does wonder whether it might not have been the same one all along? Another poor transfer but another 'J' label on the box. Odd.|
|Vectis with a very pale blue edition in 2005. The transfer looks good but they refer to a 'Georg Jensen' card which rather ruins this one's provenance. No mention of a label on the box, either.|
|And now, just to confuse us even more, another auction house I can't recall the name of had this blue Morris with old smooth wheels in a kind of mid-blue. |
Friday 13 August 2021
Update 14 August:More new findings have meant I need to make changes to this article!! I have tried to keep the original text and show the updates as best I can in a combination of
strikethroughand italic text.
It does seem to be the case that if a Jensen's Mini exists then it needs to be a very pale blue, have free-spinning shaped wheels, a later base type
and to come with a specific Georg Jensen leaflet (or possibly a card) in a box that has might have a 'J' label that does not have 3/3d on an end flap. Then I might consider it.
I expect the auction house staff simply didn't know any better, although the fees charged by auction houses really ought to cover a bit more research. I expect the owner, on whose behalf they sell, may be oblivious to the fact that he paid a fortune for a fake years ago too and he or she will be rather disappointed by this news. But that's life. We all make mistakes.
To their great credit (and cost, as fees on £1600+ would have been substantial), I have just received a reply from QDT to say that they have decided to remove this item from sale this morning, erring, as they have said, on the side of caution for this model.
"You have an item described as above at this link.After extensive research I have had to conclude that there was no such model made as a promotional item by Corgi. They did produce a Hillman Imp in pale blue with the firm's transfers but not the Mini in either red or blue form.It was their practice, when producing such promotions, always to insist on a different colour or shade of colour from the original 'normal' issue.
The particular model that you have shown here is also a very early 226 model, with the first type of base (holes near the axles being the most obvious indication) and smooth fixed wheels whereas any promotional items for the firm would have been created at a later date when free-spinning wheels and later types of base and base text design would apply so this cannot even be regarded as a possible sample made for illustration at meetings with Jensen's.It is generally well-known amongst informed collectors and those of us in contact with ex-Corgi staff that these 225 and 226 models are fake, being easy to make with excellent transfers available to buy. They have been produced over at least the last decade to my knowledge and have acquired an aura of being genuine purely because organisations like yourselves and Vectis, amongst others, have given them credence and collectors, assured by your and others' reputation in the field, have been willing to pay highly for these 'rare' items.Now, even a fake, of course, can be valuable and it is not for me to say that these models should not be put up for sale, nor that a price is or is not reasonable. What is wrong, however, and which also must have legal and reputational problems for you, is the assertion and implication that these are genuine. Even the leaflet is a later type that would not have been included at the time of a genuine 'Jensen's' promotion.I accept that your staff have acted in good faith and may well have been taken in by this model's history but, now that the matter has been brought to your attention, I would strongly suggest that this item is withdrawn from sale or, at the very least, has its description reworded. This will, no doubt, come as a surprise to its owner who may have bought it in good faith. It is also, however, conceivable that the owner is aware of its history and can provide some provenance as a sample or something other than a rather a sad and, to me, obvious fake.Andrew Hill"
I should add that I would be extremely suspicious of any Ebay-advertised Jensen's Mini. You should be pretty safe with the Imp, though, but still watch out for resprayed editions.
I have also written to Jensen's. Whether anyone there will have any recollection of a promotional arrangement with Corgi from the earl 1960s I doubt. But someone has to try. My first letter was to the jeweller! I fell for the 'Georg Jensen' references in the Vectis and QDT listings of old until a colleague put me right on that! Researching the logo design, it appears that it is now owned by a German Meat firm.
I am also aware that I would now have written to QDT in a slightly less definitive vein regarding the existence of a Jensen's Mini. That particular Jensen's Mini, however, was questionable enough in many ways and deserved to be withdrawn.
QDT have since replied to say that they are also conducting some research - and this is understandable as they have more reputation to lose than I do. So far, it is not looking good for the Mini but, as this is now the third update I have had to make to this article, a fourth may yet be required!
Wednesday 4 August 2021
I see we'll get the later edition with suspension. I found this a bit too high off the ground and the driver looks silly with his head poking up high above the windscreen! The 215 model was great and seemed to 'sit' better on the road. But, whatever the case, I am looking forward to all of these.
Will the Ambulance have a battery compartment that we can fit an AA battery into easily? The first or second edition? The second, I hope, with a more reliable system for light operation.
Blue or red Jaguar E Type? I vote for blue, the less common colour. Will this have a bubble pack like the original which few of us, as children, opened correctly!
Silver or white Mercedes? White is scarce and it would be good to see one with wire wheels too!
Tuesday 3 August 2021
There are, indeed, two Land Rover Breakdown Trucks coming out soon from Corgi! I have updated my last article on this and this is just to clarify matters for those of you who, like me, were confused.
Corgi's model is what appears to be the first in what may or may not be a series of 'retro' models. They are issuing the 417S model - the one with suspension and free-spinning wheels but still with a tin canopy - and it comes with a pretty good copy of the old style box, advertised at £19.99 but my pre-order has cost me over £25 when postage and VAT were added.
The Corgi Model Club are issuing a 417 reproduction - the first type with fixed smooth wheels, no interior or suspension and the first type of jib. Here is a sample of the box design they've published.
Sunday 1 August 2021