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Around a third of the entries were
not various military battalions and
gun emplacements but models of farms, zoos, circus performers and miniature gardens.

In terms of the auctioneers’ sale statistics, this was probably no bad thing as civilian material is the strongest performing area of this market at present although in this instance the auctioneers were heartened by the performance of the military section which was boosted by some new collectors from America. As a result they got away all but 20 of their 255 lots, netting £104,710.

The sale opened with 15 lots of Heyde militaria dating from c.1925, a childhood collection formed by the late Captain Lamar Downing Witcher of the US Navy which saw considerable American interest and was topped by a British Empire of India elephant gun team and escort at £1200. The Britains section that followed was led by a rare set of c.1848, an Indian army mountain battery in full dress at £2100.

Then came a civilian section that featured a number of high-flyers, not least a large consignment of Britains’ miniature gardening material with original packaging which the auctioneers had divided into three lots for sale, all of which doubled estimate, coming in at £900, £800 and £1200 respectively.

Equally enthusiastic bidding greeted a 1953 Britains zoo set, The Elephant Ride, pictured, in its original yellow box, offered together with a camel and boy rider. A couple of the figures were only in fair condition, (the remainder were classed as ‘very good’) and one of them, a boy accompanying the elephant, did not match, but it nonetheless realised £1200 against much more modest predictions of £200-300.

An interesting entry was a rare 1950 salesman’s sample box by the British firm Timpo, containing their complete Wild West series all numbered and priced. The box was badly damaged but the figures themselves were in mint condition. The appealing subject ensured that this generated both British and American interest and it ended up selling for £1600.

The leading price of the sale was paid for a very rare Britains four-wheel promotional builder’s lorry with side transfers advertising Davis Estates Ltd Builders of Homes and a green finish. It was consigned by a vendor who had three examples of the van, all ex-shop stock, one of which, finished in yellow, he sold through the same rooms six years ago for £1800. For this example the estimate had been increased to a heftier £3000-4000 and it came in just under that at £2800.