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A single-owner collection of Tri-ang and other British toys offered at Berkshire saleroom Special Auction Services on March 20-21 turned out to be a sell-out, ‘white-glove’ auction, with every one of the around 600 lots getting away.

The collection was described as the largest of its type to come to auction. It was the result of a couple’s abiding passion for Tri-ang – particularly large wooden toys, dolls houses and furniture.

Tri-ang was one of the brands of the elements of the Lines Bros company who traded using Tri-ang and also Minic, Pedigree, and Frog. Brothers George and Joseph Lines made wooden toys in the Victorian age under the company title G&J Lines. Joseph, who was the active partner, had four sons. Three of these – William, Walter and Arthur Edwin Lines – formed Lines Bros shortly after the First World War. Three Lines make a triangle, explaining the Tri-ang name.

According to tri-angsociety.co.uk: “Tri-ang toys were aimed at the children from working homes and were always competitively priced and brightly coloured. Lines Bros thought big and achieved their good prices through large scale and efficient manufacture, with factories all over the world.”

In the 1960s Hornby Dublo was sold by Meccano to Line Bros and the brand became Tri-ang Hornby, but Lines Bros itself was broken up by 1971 (information from Wikipedia and tri-angsociety.co.uk).

Stunning selection

The SAS auction featured more than 100 dolls houses, hundreds of pieces of furniture, dozens of wood and steel vehicles, toy ships and Tri-ang’s range of Minic-branded metal model road vehicles. It also included toys by British manufacturers Burnett, Chad Valley and Swallow, and German penny toys.

The sale total came to £105,418. SAS specialist Daniel Agnew said: "It was a real delight to handle such a wonderful collection amassed over many years with such passion, being fairly tightly squeezed into the owner's house, then only seen in small parts during the cataloguing process. When it was finally laid out in the sale room it looked stunning.

“I believe as the many buyers who attended walked into the room, they saw what the original owners loved about the G&J Lines and Tri-ang ranges from the first 60 odd years of the 20th century and this produced very enthusiastic bidding, resulting in a 100% sold rate, with many items quadrupling their estimates and the final sold total doubling the pre-sale estimate."

See accompanying caption stories for individual sale highlights.