Matchbox toy car collection brings nearly $400K at auctions

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Simon Hope and part of his collection of Matchbox toys | H&H Classics photos

Simon Hope, founder of H&H Classics, sells his ‘matchless’ collection

You might call it the matchless sale of Matchbox cars as H&H Classics announces that the 68-year-old founder of the British collector car auction company has sold his personal collection of Matchbox cars for more than £300,000 ($392,785).

Simon Hope’s collection of nearly 3,000 toy cars and trucks dated from his childhood. His cars were kept in pristine condition and were immediately returned to their boxes after play, not to protect the toys but to protect his grandmother’s mahogany dining table. 

1968 Porsche 910 racer

Hope’s passion for the toys continued into adulthood, as he began collecting rather than playing.

“It was only when I got older that I realized there was actually a collecting scene out there and information on rarer versions and colors,” Hope was quoted in H&H Classics’ announcement of the sale. “I never took part in that scene, preferring to simply track down the ones I wanted in perfect (or as near as possible) condition. It just grew and generally they were bought with amounts of money not missed at the time.”

Because of the large size of Hope’s collection, the toy vehicles were offered for sale at three auctions staged by British toy specialist Vectis. 

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“This collection was astounding and probably had the biggest range of any I’ve seen,” said Julian Royse of Vectis.

Rover 3500 in police livery

“There is a big market out there for items like this, particularly the models from the 1970s as these things do tend to be generational,” he added.

“Models from the 1950s which have previously been very valuable are now less so and later examples are extremely desirable. We find the demand far outstrips the supply and as such people will be very keen to get their hands on pieces which may not come up again in their lifetimes.”

Royse added that Matchbox vehicles have a very strong market in eastern Europe, especially with those residing in the Czech Republic.

Among Hope’s collection, the highest price paid at the sales was more than £7,000 ($9,170) for a lime green ERF dropside truck.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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