Dealer, collector, author, military historian – Shamus Wade amassed the remarkable collection of toy soldiers and figures which was recently sold at Special Auction Services of Greenham, near Newbury.
Wade's collection crossed many different
themes and factories but was particularly strong on the creations
of Georg Heyde of Dresden.
Solid lead figures never really took off in
Germany but, while unable to break the allegiance to the flat
figure at home, Heyde enjoyed considerable success overseas with
Great Britain and the USA both important markets between 1870 and
1944 when the factory was destroyed in Allied bombing raids.
According to the original display box, the
extraordinary set pictured here depicts the Engl. [English] Balloon
Detachment N. 737 and was retailed by Charles Morrell, 868 Oxford
Dating from c.1910, it comprises a series of
'Prussian' British infantry in red tunics and grey trousers,
including two cyclists, but its key components are a painted
tinplate Zeppelin-type airship and an observation balloon connected
by wire rod to a horse-drawn winch wagon.
Extremely rare in any condition, and here
offered complete in the original (if damaged) packaging, it was
estimated at £2000-3000 for the sale on June 15, but sold for
£10,000 following a battle between two telephone bidders.
Heyde figures (distinctive for their plug-in
heads) are admired for their character and sheer variety. Among the
best known is the Viceroy's Elephant, an animated walking elephant
with mahout and large gold howdah.
On board are the Viceroy in a plume cocked
hat, the Vicereine holding a parasol and another white dignitary
with his punkawallah. A good, rather than exceptional example with
some flaking and gluing, it nevertheless sold at £3000, ten times
its lowest estimate, after some fierce telephone and room
The buyer's premium was 15%.