A trip in a small car to the past

Ouh, life is just full of little surprises, isn’t it?

My most recent unexpected discovery was quite interesting, actually. I thought I hated collecting in all its forms and was wary of collectors, always and everywhere. They fill drawers, suck time and create things into dust.

As the only member of my family who is not a pack rat, i.e. a collector, I have worked hard to hold the line.

So when I pulled out the Matchbox vehicle collection, passed down from my brother, I groaned inside. I really wanted to know its value, but the thought of doing the necessary research gave me a mild case of hives. I also got a nose full of dust because these things have been put away for decades.

For those of you who are really interested, my ‘collector’ mum started collecting these for my ‘collector’ brother when we were stationed in Germany in 1959, and it seems my brother only played with a few of them, so the rest is what they call “mint”.

However, after going through several collectors’ websites and blogs, I’m still not sure if they are worth more if beaten, but not restored, or if intact is better.

I’ve learned that some collectors also want the boxes to be pristine, which puzzles me, as the paper just doesn’t hold together very well. Apparently our collection has been looked at a lot, as most of the boxes are a bit ratty.

But what bothers my non-collector’s heart the most is that the more I learned about this box full of toys, the less I wanted to part with it. They managed to evoke good memories and create unexpected attachments.

I didn’t see it coming and I’m not happy about it at all.

Equally disturbing, I found the hours and hours of internet research I had to do on these little metallic creatures to be really rather absorbing.

I love that many of them have charming British descriptions and names, like in the street cleaner is a ‘rubbish cleaning’ truck, the dump trucks are ‘tippers’ and the milk truck is a “milk float”.

Then I discovered that the vehicles that I found adorable and fascinating were the least appreciated, while the ones that I found extremely ordinary carried a high price.

My favorite is The Bedford Evening News van, with the tiny signs saying “First with the News” and “Football Results”. His value? $25. What about the regular Ford station wagon, just like my parents owned? A guy on eBay wants $700.

Maybe my non-collector status is still secure.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who quickly moves away from all the dusty boxes under the bed. Contact her at [email protected].

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