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
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
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.