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Matchbox model cars
Title : Matchbox model cars Matchbox model cars
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Creator : Lesney
Format : Toy
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Description :

A range of Matchbox model cars including Esso red petrol tanker (No. 11, 1955?); Yellow Vauxhall Victor (No. 45, 1958); London trolley bus (No. 56, 1958); Morris J-2 pick-up (No. 60, 1958); Austin Mk2 radio truck (No. 68, 1959); Nestles Commer 30cwt van (No. 69, 1959); Bedford articulated Wall's ice-cream van (lacks prime mover) (from No. 2 major pack); Green Pickfords removal van (No. 46, 1963); Yellow drinks truck (No. 37 (?), 1957); BP Autotanker (Major pack No. 1); Greyhound coach (No. 66, 1966); Blue Studebaker Lark wagonaire (No. 42, 1965); (Leyland) Site hut truck (No. 60, 1966); two BP petrol bowser sets (Accessory pack No. 1); Off road Jeep with box (No. 5 1981).

Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith were two friends who met after World War Two and decided to form a toy company, which they called Lesney. The first toys produced were clockwork tin toys, but the company later began manufacturing miniature cars that could be fitted into a matchbox. The first toys in this 'Matchbox' range was produced in the 1950s.

The young company had financial success with their miniature Coronation Coach in 1953, selling over a million of them. This financed their 1:75 range of cars.

Matchbox cars were easily affordable. Mothers might buy one as they completed the weekly shopping; fathers might bring one home on pay day. Children's collections grew. Lesney, or Matchbox as the company were more familiarly known, expanded its series as more people began buying family cars: Matchbox models closely replicated the details of the latest model cars. Matchbox made family sedans, commercial vehicles and emergency services vehicles. Production increased and over 1,000 people were employed. The company won the Queen's Award for Industry in 1966.

The company ceased production in 1973, no longer able to compete against the cheaper plastic toys, but the name 'Matchbox' continues under the Mattel label.

Period : 1946-1979
Further reading :

Carter, Robert. Yesterday's yesteryears: Lesney "matchbox" models, Yeovil, Somerset, England: Haynes Pub. Group; Newbury Park, Calif., USA: Haynes Publications, 1986

Jaffe, Deborah. The history of toys: from spinning tops to robots, Stroud [England]: Sutton, 2006

Leake, Geoffrey. A concise catalogue of 1-75 series "Matchbox" toys, Worcester, England : G.H.B. Leake, 1981

McGimpsey, Kevin. Collecting Matchbox diecast toys: the first forty years, Chester, England: Major Productions, c1989

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