Here we present a selection of well-worn 1940s – 1950s British-made toy cars. Their individual patinas not only the result of many hours of exuberant play, but of the gradual destruction caused by natural chemical reactions.
The Dinky cars were spotted at Click Antiques & Vintage, all the others were spotted at Tring Pickers.
Chad Valley Company Ltd., Harbonne, Birmingham
These cars were imitations of Schuco (Germany) clockwork cars. The ‘wonder car’ (shown above) was able to turn itself around upon reaching the edge of the table!
Mecanno Ltd., Liverpool
Like many toy manufacturers, production was halted during WW2 with the factory being used for war work.
Zinc alloy is ideal for die-casting, with a low melting point and low viscosity making it possible to achieve quickly produced small and intricate shapes. Zamak – Zinc Alluminium MAgnesium Kupfer (Copper) – was developed in 1929 with a 99.99% pure zinc metal to avoid corrosion problems.
Impurities in zinc (such as lead, bits of scrap being mixed in) cause zinc pest – an extreme and destructive form of corrosion. Early Zamak could suffer from bad batches until better quality metals and stricter manufacturing processes eliminated it. Toys (especially pre-war) will suffer from severe bloating, distorting, stretching and cracking. Such is the extent of the damage, toys can crumble or even explode when touched.
Glamorgan Toy Products Ltd., Porth, South Wales
Glam Toys was founded by Jacob Beatus, one of a number of pre-war emigres from Nazi Germany who established factories in South Wales. These cars were imitations of Wynadotte cars (US), a highly successful toy company founded in 1921 who were the world’s largest manufacturer of toy guns, but went bankrupt in the 1950s following steel shortages.
Cheap and cheerful, an early form of mass toy production involved the stamping of thin tinplate sheets, ‘folded’ and assembled using small tabs. From the late 1800s offset lithography was used to print designs onto the metal sheets.
When the tin is scratched it leaves the underlying metal exposed to rust and corrosion. Filiform corrosion (or ‘spidering’) is a threadlike network of corrosion causing the coating to lump and crack. Pitting corrosion is more localised, water or dust particles causing a reaction that leaves a rusted pit in the surface.