Paul Martin and experts offer tips on antiques and collectibles. Paul test-drives a classic car made by the Alvis Car Company in Coventry.
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Over the last 11 years on Flog It!
we've helped you sell thousands of antiques and collectables
and, over the years, we've seen a variety of astonishing things.
It is the most amazing object.
You have made my day.
Are we all done?
But, as you know, it's not easy to put a value on all of them,
but there are some things that are always guaranteed to find a market.
Welcome to Flog It! Trade Secrets.
Toy cars, train sets, Airfix models.
I can speak for the rest of the chaps on Flog It!
and say we're always delighted to see items like this being unwrapped
at a valuation day, something to do with bringing out the child in us.
They certainly put a smile on our faces.
But when do they stop being fun and start to be worth serious money?
Coming up in this programme,
we'll be finding out why boys' toys sell so well...
People collect what reminds them of their childhood.
Boys' toys, you know, grown-up men play with trains.
Philip Serrell explains why he's never grown up.
On Christmas morning, 1961 or '62,
this appeared in my Father Christmas sack.
And I'll be having heaps of fun
with a fab collection of vintage cars.
We always get excited when people bring in die-cast toys to the valuation days.
Not only do they give everyone a warm glow of nostalgia,
but they also make excellent money, as Charlie Ross found out.
What a blaze of colour!
Seldom have I seen so many toys that haven't been played with!
It's a real treat.
You've got a boxful.
And although these are the better ones,
-we've got some others that we couldn't get on camera.
-Yes, we have.
This fantastic collection of Dinky Toys was valued by Charlie
at £400 to £600.
It's one of the best Flog It! collections I've seen of Dinky Toys,
-particularly the condition. Marvellous!
A very large and a very good collection of Dinkies, some boxed.
There is loads of interest.
-But it sold at auction for a staggering sum.
-The hammer's gone down, Daniel! £1,350.
How fantastic is that?
That was wonderful, wasn't it, Daniel?
Die-cast toys get their name
from the process of injecting molten metal
into reusable steel moulds called dies.
They started to be made in the early 20th century by companies like Meccano,
producers of Dinky Cars in the UK.
The first models were basic -
small cars or van bodies with no interior.
Matchbox toys were introduced in 1947,
with each vehicle packed into a small box
designed to look like those used for matches.
These toys became so popular
that Matchbox was widely used as a generic term for any die-cast toy,
regardless of who the actual manufacturer was.
The popularity of die-cast toys increased
and more companies entered the field, including the Corgi brand,
which appeared in the 1950s and pioneered the use of interiors.
It soon became apparent that many die-cast vehicles were being bought by adults as collectables,
not as toys for children.
But in the 1980s, Dinky, Matchbox and Corgi all struggled,
and production was either broken up or shifted overseas.
Today, a pre-war Dinky Toy bearing an advertising sign
can make £2,000 to £3,000.
If it has its original box, its value can double.
If, like me, you're a big fan of form and shape,
here's something that will set your heart racing...
MUSIC: "Sunny Afternoon" by The Kinks
The TD21, built from 1958 to 1963 in Coventry...
With 120 horsepower and 2,993CC engine capacity,
this is just one of thousands of cars
that put the city on the road map of motoring.
From Daimler to Hillman and Rover to Triumph,
from the very first £100 car,
and this beautifully hand-crafted Alvis TD21 Drophead Coupe,
Coventry built them all.
MUSIC: "Lust for Life" by Iggy Pop
Some engineers were sceptical of the future of the motor trade,
but when the first Coventry Daimler emerged from the Motor Mills factory in 1886
Britain's motoring industry was born.
And what an industry it was, producing some of the first cars of the day.
Driven by a king, but at the cost of ten times that of a house,
not yet by country.
The early cars were made by master craftsmen, unique in their skills,
pushing boundaries of design.
One such company made my favourite car,
and you may be surprised to know they are still making them today.
This car's incredible,
I'd like to sell all my antiques to buy this! I really would!
And to tell me more about these beautiful vehicles,
owner of Alvis, Alan Stote.
How long would it have taken to make a car like this?
Well, a few thousand hours, because everything was handmade.
Alvis had to make patterns to make the castings,
they had to design everything, they had to hand-fettle everything, everything was put together by hand.
-The whole thing was crafted by hand.
-I can see an ash work frame.
Well, that's the skeleton of the body skin.
All of that would've had to have been made by the coach builder.
We've got records showing that you could have exactly what you wanted on the car.
It was absolutely hand-crafted.
-What made you fall in love with the Alvis car?
-I think it's the individuality.
They were made to order. Customers could have exactly what they wanted on the car.
The records we have, 22,000 of them, show what each car was,
and I think that there are no two the same.
Alvis cars were made by highly skilled craftsmen.
But as the middle classes took to motoring, demand grew
and mass-scale production was the only option.
Production lines started to replace the craft-based skilled workforce
and Coventry's motoring industry sped into a new age of mass production.
Throughout the '40s, '50s and '60s,
Coventry's factories provided 23% of the UK output.
People came from all over the world to work here
and the city benefitted, with a thriving economy.
And like most booms, a bust was soon to follow.
Companies like Alvis and Triumph were taken over by giants British Leyland,
and the 1970s saw relationships between trade unions and management breaking down.
There were many strikes and productions lines came to a halt.
Now, add that to the pressure of cheaper cars being imported from abroad
and you can see why time was running out
for the British car industry.
From the 1970s onwards,
the term "British car manufacturing" became a complicated combination of words.
Rolls-Royce was sold to BMW, Mini was made by British Leyland,
and when Jaguar and Land Rover were sold to Tata in 2008,
it seemed mass production of British cars had bitten the dust.
But what remains of the Halcyon days of car manufacturing
should not be resigned to the scrapheap.
You could buy a new sports car or a mass-produced car today,
and three years later it's depreciated by - let's say - 50% of its value.
Hopefully, in three or four years, these will go up a great deal.
As an example, that TD21 Drophead over there...
-The black one?
-..that sold in 1994 for £22,500.
In 2007, we sold it for 40,000,
and it's now for sale, five years later, at 80,000.
It's doubled its money! Wow.
And the car I took out on the road earlier,
that is my favourite car, do you know that?
I'm ever so pleased I had the honour of driving one.
# Life in the fast lane... #
The British motorcar was born in Coventry,
it grew up in Coventry
and it lives on in Coventry.
Vintage cars have a keen following among collectors
and can sell for massive amounts of money.
But if you don't have the funds to buy a car,
what about buying part of one?
A Rolls-Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy" figure
can be bought for about £150
and could be a good investment,
as there are plenty of collectors of car memorabilia out there.
And it's not just car memorabilia which is collectable.
Here's Catherine Southon's tip on what to buy today
which could make you money in the future.
One of the questions that I always get asked is,
"What's really going to make money in the future?"
It's actually a really hard question to answer
because we don't really know, we can't predict.
But my feeling is that people should go out
and start collecting Concorde memorabilia.
Because a bit like Titanic,
it's something that could, in years to come,
really be worth something.
But the most important thing is when you go out to buy something,
buy something because you love it,
not because you think it will be worth something in the future.
Buy it because you love it, and if it makes money in the future
that's a bonus.
Over the years, we've seen some fantastic boys' toys on Flog It!
and Philip has a theory about why they do so well.
I'm a great believer that men collect toys from their boyhood.
And I think that people, it's a little bit now like...
..perhaps men of 70 or 80 might collect Hornby train sets,
perhaps people who are 30 or 40 might collect Star Wars figures.
And I really do believe that people collect
what reminds them of their childhood.
Wow! Look at that! Isn't that absolutely stunning?
It's a Hornby train set.
It's quite simple, really. Hornby is Rolls-Royce.
-When did she come to the throne? About 1951, wasn't it?
-Something like that.
So I think this is possibly late '40s, early '50s.
It belonged to my father-in-law.
It is the iconic model.
It would've been massively expensive in its day.
I seem to remember, around the time of the auction of the one that we sold,
the original was being restored.
So all of those things add to the value.
How much are we going to get for it, do you think?
-I was thinking about 100, 150 maybe.
-Well, I'm thinking more like £300 to £500.
Easy! This is a family programme, John.
You can't use that sort of language!
Let's watch it go loco!
The Hornby Train - Princess Elizabeth.
500. 520. 550.
580. 600. 620.
700. 720. 740 on the phone.
940 bid. 960. 960 bid. 960.
-Stopped short of the four figures.
On the phone at 980.
£980 - not bad for an old toy!
The value was clearly boosted by nostalgia.
You get these almost obsessive collectors of toys.
And I'm pretty sure it is that connection with their childhood.
Boys' toys, you know? Grown-up men playing with trains.
What have you brought in for us today to have a look at?
-I've got two Battle of Britain Dinky Toys...
..and two Schuco motorcars.
Michael's mum had sent him in.
As is the case with a lot of these old vintage toys,
they end up in Mum or Dad's loft.
And then, of course, they've got to downsize,
they come across this box and they tell the kids -
and this is kids who are probably 40-50 years old -
"What am I doing with your old toys in my loft?"
My mother's had them for ages and she more or less ordered me to sell them!
We've got two Dinky aeroplanes here,
obviously - by the box - Battle of Britain.
These were produced in 1969,
erm, shortly before Dinky were taken over by Airfix
and the quality somewhat slumped.
So these are still nice quality.
You've got some nice crisp moulding and some good colours.
And we've got the English Spitfire, obviously for the Battle of Britain,
the most important plane that we had involved.
And then we've got the German aeroplane,
which I think a nice little touch is the addition...
of the dropping bomb, which I think is a nice touch.
I think the main draw was the German aeroplane, which still had its bomb. Now, that's important.
Any of these toys which have detachable pieces or accessories,
as soon as they get lost it's incomplete, so the value drops considerably.
And then at the front here,
we've got the die-cast Schuco Micro racer,
probably dating from the 1960s when Schuco were producing.
And then we've got the late '50s Schuco car
with a rather nice touch, I think, with the...
HORN BEEPS ..little horn!
There are certain little details
that can make one Dinky Toy worth ten times what another one is worth.
And it can be down to the colour of the windscreen,
the colour of the hubcaps, the colour of the tyres.
Similar to porcelain, where you have things made in different colours, people want to collect them all.
In the present market, if you were going to sell them as a combined lot,
you should be putting a figure of £60 to £80 on them at auction.
Obviously, with collectable toys,
condition is of primary importance.
These are in reasonable condition, but I wouldn't say they were mint.
At the end of the day, these were produced to be toys for children.
The best advice I can give to people is if you want to collect toys,
buy two. Buy one to keep in the box and tuck away,
and play with the other one.
Did the damage put the bidders off?
They've been played with. The boxes are a little bit worn.
Mint and boxed, this is about £150, £200.
But, you know, we're talking 60 to 80.
-It's a bit sad you have them and not play with them.
463 now, the Dinky Battle of Britain Spitfire
and various other toys.
50, I have down there now.
Straight in. He's a bidding man. He wants them.
-£60 I have down here.
85. 90. 95.
At £95, I'm bid.
-All done at 95.
130. In front of me now at 130. Are you all done?
£130. That was a surprise.
-And how confident were you they were going to sell?
The fact that the bomb had not been lost, I think, added to the value
and I think that's why they sold better than I thought.
But it's not just big-name model cars which can make big money.
All I can tell you is that this is a super piece,
something I would certainly love to own.
A lovely tin plate model of an Alfa Romeo.
I think it's a stunning piece.
I remember this toy car particularly well
and I remember the owner really well.
It was my father's and I suspect he got it new.
-He was born in 1913 and this is a 1924-25 car.
So I suspect as a young teenager or 11, 12 year old,
-he was given it by my grandfather.
And then I remember it as a child, being in the house.
The owner had so many tales to tell about this toy car.
He played with it extensively when he was a child
and that's really why it was in such a bad condition.
It is in a very poor state, that's quite clear,
but I actually quite like that.
It shows that somebody's loved this and really had a great time with it.
What I really like, as well, is some of this detail.
-I love this simulated leather seat with...
-A crinkle effect.
Exactly. That lovely crinkled, crackled finish.
In perfect condition with its original box,
-we'd probably be looking at a couple of thousand pounds.
Collectors always want these to be in perfect order.
But if we move away from toy collectors
and think about people who might be interested in it as a charming piece, as indeed I would be,
-I think we're probably looking at about £300 to £500.
Catherine played down the car because of the condition. Was she right?
All of a sudden, when the item came up for sale,
all these men in their 40s suddenly came towards the rostrum
and you could see, "Yep! This is a real boys' toy
"and it's really getting the guys going."
There wasn't a lady in sight, that's for sure!
I'll start the commission bids at £800.
Is there 50 in the room?
It's one of those moments where your jaw just drops
and you think, "Oh..."
And I remember this one was also on the front of a catalogue,
so when an item's on the front of a catalogue you always think,
"OK, I've got the valuation a little bit wrong here,
"but it's going to do extremely well."
And 50. Commission bidder's out.
1,300. And 50.
1,400. And 50. 1,500.
And 60. 1,600. And 50. 1,700.
And 50. 1,800.
And 50. 1,900. And 50.
-£2,500. To the telephone at £2,500...
-I'm pleased for you.
-Thank you for bringing an item like that in.
It shows the condition doesn't count for everything in something like this.
That car did brilliantly because of its rarity and age
and because it was made to celebrate the launch of the Alfa Romeo P2,
There's so much to think about when buying boys' toys.
Here are my top tips...
Collectors of old toy transport are still willing to pay good prices for the right pieces.
This could be a great time to sell.
If you don't want something, someone else might.
Have your old toys valued at your local auction house
or at a Flog It! valuation day.
Poor condition doesn't have to mean a low price at auction,
as we've seen.
And if you have the original box, even better.
We know lots of you Flog It! viewers are youngsters at heart,
like Philip Serrell, who is no doubt about one of his most prized possessions.
Without going into all the gory details about when I was born,
in the early 1960s Corgi Toys produced this,
which was an Ecurie Ecosse Car Transporter.
The Ecurie Ecosse was a Scottish motor racing team that raced at Le Mans.
This is a coach-built racing car transporter.
It was used for transporting racing cars around the world
and you used to drive the cars up there.
This was something I absolutely coveted as a kid
and, lo and behold, on Christmas morning,
and I can't remember when, but I guess it would've been 1961 or '62,
this appeared in my Father Christmas sack.
I was so pleased with it and I loved it and I played with it.
It's something that I've always kept.
And the thing that makes it a little bit special for me, and this is down to doing TV,
if you look very closely at this,
you can just see there the motor racing transporter,
and through doing television, I got to go and sit in and see the real thing
about three years ago.
I mean, this is really, really sad but it was a real magic moment for me
because it was like so many boyhood, childhood memories,
because I really wanted to be a racing driver.
Jimmy Clarke, Phil Hill and Stirling Moss,
all these great names of that period, that was what I wanted to do.
And to be able to go and see this,
it was really special.
And it all started with that.
At most auctions, there's often one sale which takes everybody's breath away.
Like you, I want to find out more
about how one object can change life for its owner.
Here's one that really stands out for me.
Sometimes, people who turn up on Flog It! have rather unexpected passions.
-Now, what can I say?
Take Kenneth, for example, what would you expect him to collect?
I'd have thought maybe motorbikes.
# God save the queen... #
I've got a bit of a mix -
the Sex Pistols,
Dennis the Menace
and Poole Pottery -
but I like it.
Poole Pottery? It's a bit, well, unblokey!
We first met him in 2006,
when he brought a really weird item into a valuation day.
My father won it in a cribbage game many moons ago.
-I inherited it when he died some years ago.
It's a lobster claw, as you can see,
and it's been made into a brandy flask.
And I think it's a charming, quirky object.
That's what I was thinking. I thought you'd like it.
It's really bitten me, excuse the pun!
But it's just great fun.
-Somebody's taken what was obviously a massive lobster...
-It must've been huge.
-Much wider than the table.
-Oh, yes, much bigger.
It would've made a lovely meal!
It would've done, although I'm not a great lover of seafood.
But I think there will be people who would find it
a unique object, which it is.
My dad told me years ago that it was worth a lot of money,
but what's a lot of money? You don't know.
I thought maybe £100, somebody would give me that.
I don't think it's a huge value.
-I would've put maybe 70 to 100 on it.
-That's not bad!
-Not bad, is it?
Maybe we'll keep the reserve a little bit lower than that
to give it a fighting chance.
50 or 60?
-Yes, 50 quid. That's a deal.
-All right, then.
-We'll put a reserve of 50 and let's see what happens.
So, what did happen?
-I love it.
-I do, as well.
-A bit of folk art.
-I mean, it was a huge lobster, wasn't it?
-I hope it claws in the money!
Boom-boom! This is it. Good luck, Kenneth.
Lot 37, which is an amusing lot.
One of the highlights of the sale, this lobster-claw brandy flask.
50. Five. 60. Five.
Add 65, but thank you. 70. Five...
-It's still going.
-Fresh legs. Or should we say claws?!
..100. And ten?
120. 130. 140. 150.
170, sir? 180.
200. And 20.
220. 240. 260.
260. 280? 280.
300? 300. And 20. Fresh bidder.
At £320 on the back row, going...
-The hammer's gone down.
Pfft! Who'd have thought it, eh?
-Kenneth, what are you going to put that towards?
-I might get a Poole pot or something.
Sometimes it's not how much an item makes, but how you reinvest.
Pretty much every spare penny Kenneth has, he puts into Poole.
I have quite an addiction to collecting Poole.
I probably need help!
Help packing it up!
The record at auction for one piece is £13,000,
and for a collection, 250,000.
I think there's about 300 pieces downstairs in this room,
there's a further 50 or 60 pieces in the bedroom
and in the attic, the last count was 50 boxes full,
and each box has got...
..at least nine or ten items in it.
Erm... One day, maybe the attic will fall down.
The Poole Pottery Factory was established in 1873
and is still open and making ceramic-wares today.
Over the decades, it's become known for its bright colours and bold designs.
They did a lot of tableware and cups, saucers, eggcups, blah, blah, blah...
How many teapots, I don't know.
I must have at least 12 teapots and I don't even drink tea!
I thought I'd get a logo tattooed on my leg.
I had to get that done, really.
That goes to show, you shouldn't always judge the collector by his cover.
So, go on, search your home. You could be sitting on a treasure and now even know it.
Well, that's it for today's show. I hope you've been inspired.
And remember, never underestimate the frivolous,
the naughty and the childish.
If it makes you smile, it's a fair bet somebody else will want it.
See you next time for more trade secrets.