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In 1934, when the brand was in its infancy, each van cost sixpence, but today those few examples that have escaped metal fatigue and playwear can command remarkable sums. Only a handful of complete boxes of Type 1 vans have come on the market - but two were seen at Special Auction Services, near Newbury last month.

Each containing six vehicles branded with internationally-recognised trade names, they came for sale from the families of two leading collectors of Dinky Toys, John Westcombe and Julien Loffet, who both died recently. Upon the suggestion of specialist Hugo Marsh, the two collections were united for what he called a once-in-a-lifetime sale.

"These two yellow trade boxes contain the very first Dinky Toys ever made that featured advertising on them. To have two boxes in the same sale is unheard of - up until now it had never happened before. The box numbers A1008 and A1009 are sequential and both were first advertised for sale in May 1934, meaning that although known as first and second series they do appear to have been issued concurrently."

Type 1 Vans

The so-called first series box, contains six Type 1 vans individually branded for Hornby Trains (No.28a), Pickfords (No.28b), Manchester Guardian (No.28c), Oxo (No.28d), Firestone Tyres (No.28e) and Palethorpes (No. 28f).

All were catalogued as either very good or excellent, with the original yellow trade box (with replacement dividers) serial numbered A1008, considered fair to good. Estimated at £10,000-15,000 for the sale on November 20, they sold at £20,000.

The second issue box of six (28/2) vans, shown above, carried the serial number A1009. The vehicles (again very good to excellent) advertise Kodak Film (28g), Sharp's Toffee (28h), Marsh's Sausages (28k), Crawfords Biscuits (28l), Wakefield's Castrol (28m) and Meccano (28n). In a box (again with replacement dividers) considered 'fair', these took £19,000. Both lots sold to the same UK private collector.

In March 2008 Vectis of Stockton-on-Tees sold the so-called 5th Avenue Collection, which included both another first issue box of six Type 1 vans sold at £30,000 and a single Dinky No.22d van bearing the name W.E. Boyce, a cycle shop on the Archway Road in Highgate. This apparently unique survivor achieved £17,000 and still holds the record for a single Dinky.

The sale took place on November 20 and the buyer's premium at Special Auction Services was 15%.