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A slice of their business has come by way of referrals from Christie’s South Kensington (whose average lot values are now often above those of good if not exceptional antique toys) and it was through this connection that SAS received the opportunity to sell on March 27 almost 300 lots from the model railway collection of the late Robert Head. A strong supporter of the Gauge 1 Model Railway Society he patronised Aster, Fulgurex, J&M and other leading contemporary makers before his untimely death in 2002. Christie’s had sold the first part of this vast collection of hundreds of predominantly new or nearly new railway models in April 2003.

The quality of many of the Aster locos, coaches and wagons in this collection evoked memories of Märklin in their prime – meticulously made Gauge 1 replicas of full-size engines, hand decorated and sold in brass-bound mahogany carrying cases. All were in good condition and some, such as the model of the Mallard loco and tender, had rarely been out of their original packaging. This 2ft 1in (68cm) model of the record-breaking flagship of the LNER Class A4 was considered near mint and sold at £5500.

Contributing most to the £230,000 total was an Aster model of the biggest steam locomotive ever made, the Union Pacific 4000 Class – or simply Big Boy – finished in black and silver livery. Robert Head had clearly used this one in anger but it sold at £7200 (estimate £4000-6000).