Back to News




Dear Collector

Mother started it all. Clearing out her loft in preparation to move into a retirement bungalow she had found a box of my old Dinky and Matchbox toys she had put away as a keepsake. So here I was in 1975 back in ownership of my early 1950's toy cars bearing the scars of a playful thrashing.

From an early age I had always found fast cars exciting. This interest in all forms of motorsport has remained with me all my life. Having had my interest in model (toy) cars rekindled, wandering into my local model shop in December 1975 I discovered Polistil - and the just released model of the Renault "Alpine" Rally. I bought it, and then other models in this Aladdin's cave. At the British Grand Prix in 1976 I came across a stall selling Solido, and bought a Porsche 911 in bronze. This is when things took off. I had my local toy shop put new models to one side as soon as they came in, and I collected them on a weekly basis. I soon expanded to Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox. At the end of 2018 reviewing my 43 years of collecting revealed that I had models from 79 different manufacturers from across the world.

At this point I should mention that I was also afflicted with "collectionitus" at about the age of 8. In those days Brooke Bond tea came in packets and with each packet would be a card to collect. These started with a 25 set of "Birds of Britain", and then moved on to larger sets of Wild Flowers, Wild Animals etc. The clever marketing bit was that a few cards were deliberately made rare, thus making this young collector demand that tea consumption should drastically increase in our household so that my set could be complete. This need to "complete a set" has consumed me all my life, and was readily transferred to model cars.

Matchbox 1:75 scale models were not good news for me as they came in a set of 75, which I obviously had to collect. This only lasted for a few years before I refocused on the last of the Corgi models, and in particular the rarer colours and export models (still under valued I think)

From the start all my models were logged on handwritten spreadsheets in a green lever arch file, stating where purchased, price, condition etc. I never got around to transferring to an electronic spreadsheet system. Storage space was becoming a problem. The curse of all collectors. Having filled all the usual spaces under beds, on top of wardrobes etc. I realised a more comprehensive approach was required. As luck would have it there was a cardboard box manufacturer close by. Now armed with an endless supply of the same size boxes, I designed high level perimeter shelving around the bedrooms to house the expanding collection. A neat solution, but not entirely popular with my long suffering wife.

Initially, regularly touring the local toyshops for new models, I expanded this to attending the Swapmeets in the area. On holidays I sought out toy shops for old stock, including foreign trips. For example, while skiing in Crans Montana in Switzerland I found a tiny toy shop with some rare old stock Corgis. As an architect I became involved in remodelling banks across the UK from Portsmouth to Aberdeen thus travelling all over the country with the chance to raid the old stock of even more toy shops.

I had had visions of large display cabinets around the house. Like Brexit this negotiation proved difficult. A compromise of four small display cabinets was agreed, which I made myself at evening woodwork classes. The consequence has been that the vast majority of my models, once purchased, have laid dormant leading a very sheltered life in a cardboard box in a bedroom. The upside of this is that most are in time warp condition and will hopefully, via Vectis, find proud new owners to cherish them for the enjoyment of future generations.

I have obtained immense pleasure from both collecting and seeing the collections of others. Talking with other enthusiasts from all walks of life has fuelled my passion over the years. I am now at an age that I realise we are all merely custodians of what we collect. Downsizing is on the horizon and my collection must go. I do not resent this as I feel pleased that I will have contributed by passing on my models for future generations to see and have a 3D glimpse into a previous world.