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Dinky’s South African odyssey finally brings rewards

12 March 2011Written by Roland Arkell

SOUTH Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 1961 brought with it hefty import taxes on finished luxury goods: a difficult moment for Meccano, for whom the colonies were key markets.

To resolve this problem, and escape the levy on finished goods, Meccano briefly experimented with shipping Dinky Toy parts to South Africa, where models were assembled and painted locally.

Toys using English parts were made between 1962 and 1963 (it is believed only one batch of each model was produced) while a further six models were made with bare metal parts imported from the French factory in 1966.

In short, South African Dinky Toys are very rare - and distinguished by their unusual colours, base plates with a gloss rather than a matt finish and (should they survive) boxes with Afrikaans lettering at the one end and Printed in South Africa on the side.

A number of very good examples have been on the market in recent weeks.

In chronological order, we begin at Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees on December 9 when Vectis had been surprised to see a No.139 South African issue of the Ford Cortina - a very scarce example in mid green, with beige interior that came in its South African issue box - chased to £2100 (estimate £600-800).

This estimate-busting performance in what is otherwise a largely predictable market did suggest expectations of between £250-400 apiece would prove lightweight on three boxed Afrikaans Dinkys offered by Special Auction Services  of New Greenham Park, Newbury on January 21-22. A good version of the light 184 Volvo 122S in avocado green sold at £920; a French factory silver 552 Chevrolet Corvair took £880, while a 148 Ford Fairlane in mid blue, considered 'excellent' in a very good box, achieved £1300. The latter appears in a number of different South African colours from light green and grey through to several tones of blue.

Back at Vectis again on January 27, a further £1700 was taken for a No.554 Opel Rekord, made from French factory parts in 1966 and painted in mid blue. This sale also included one from a series of military vehicles, based on the 25 Series Lorries, shipped to South Africa in the mid-1950s and painted in the livery of the South African Defence Force. This No.25B Army Covered Wagon, considered near mint but lacking its box, took £500.

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