The company began life in 1934 as a Meccano spin-off owned by Hornby, and had produced more than 1000 diecast models and numerous colour variations by the end.
An obvious choice for a Dinky collector will of course be cost. The beauty of such a wide range of models available means plenty of price points are also possible.
If you love Dinky and do have a bit of cash to splash, then the earliest models may be ones to target. While prices have softened over the years, collectors are still prepared to shell out for toys in the right condition.
Tennants’ sale of Toys, Models, Collectables & Sporting Items in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, on April 5 had a good example.
Dinky toys dating from the firm’s infancy will fetch good prices, especially the classic vans featuring advertising on the side. Vans were among the first ranges, designed to add trackside realism to Hornby train sets. As well as the delivery van, they comprised a tank, a tractor, a sports coupe, a motor truck and an open sports car, and immediately captured the public imagination.
At Tennants, a pre-war Dinky 28M 1st Type Wakefield Castrol Motor Oil van with purple wheels, in excellent condition, sold for £1300 (plus 18.5% buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £800-1200.
As another recent example of a single pre-war delivery van offered at auction, on February 21 this year Penzance saleroom David Lay sold a 28K Marsh’s Sausages for a low-estimate hammer price of £900.
In March last year, Berkshire auction house Special Auction Services sold another pre-war Dinky Toys 28M 1st Type Wakefield’s Castrol Delivery Van for a mid-estimate hammer price of £1200. Three months later SAS offered a No.28/1 first-issue set of six Dinky 1st Type delivery vans in original yellow trade box with replacement dividers. Estimated at £7000-10,000, it sold for £11,000 hammer.
Back on November 20, 2014, SAS offered two 1934 Dinky 28 Series Delivery Van with estimates of £10,000-15,000. One set made £20,000 and the other £19,000.
They came for sale from the families of two leading collectors of Dinky Toys, John Westcombe and Julien Loffet, who had both died recently. On the suggestion of SAS specialist Hugo Marsh, the two collections were united for what he called a once-in-a-lifetime sale.
At the time, he told Antiques Trade Gazette: “These two yellow trade boxes contain the very first Dinky Toys ever made that featured advertising on them. To have two boxes in the same sale is unheard of - up until now it had never happened before.”
In March 2008 Vectis of Stockton-on-Tees sold the so-called 5th Avenue Collection, which included both another first issue box of six 1st Type vans, for £30,000.
Rare sale visitors
While condition counts, the importance of rarity is demonstrated by a pre-war 2nd Type Dinky 280j Fenwick delivery van, c.1939, offered at Poole auction house Cottees in January last year.
It was catalogued as “a very good example of this hard to find promotional model of which there is believed to only be six in existence”. Estimated at £3000-5000, it made £3100 hammer.
In that March 2008 auction Vectis offered a single Dinky No.22d van bearing the name WE Boyce, a cycle shop in Archway Road in Highgate, north London. This apparently unique survivor achieved £17,000.