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Thousands of 1920s-30s robots, chickens, butterflies and boats go up for auction

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 06, 2014

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A collection of more than 2,000 traditional tin plate toys rescued from closing shops and factories is set to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.

Arthur Findlater, 57, started the hoard as a boy, with most coming from the store rooms of failing "dime stores" or factories shifting broken stock.

The stash of robots, chickens, butterflies and boats were made between the 1920s and 1990s and have filled Arthur's loft and cupboards for decades.

Among his colourful collection are original boxed wind-up robots from the 1980s as well as intricate flapping butterflies made almost 100 years ago in Japan.

But the toy maker is selling all but a few of his much-loved collection after his worsening multiple sclerosis made holding the metal treasures impossible.

Experts reckon the simple toys, which were bought for just a few pounds each, could fetch several thousand pounds when they go under the hammer next month.

Arthur, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire., said: "I have collected them for 30 or 40 years and it has just got to a ridiculous size and I have far too many. It has got a bit obsessive.

"I have got them from all over the world.

"Many came from dime stores in America. If a shop wasn't selling their stuff it was put away in a cupboard and just kept there because these stores were just so big.

"They would sit there for decades at a time, still in their boxes, until they were found by a dealer and then sold for the first time many years later.

"I have also bought them from factories. I used to buy them by the metre, many at a time that were broken, but they only had very small faults and they could be fixed."

The collection is one of the biggest ever sold by Gloucestershire-based Cotswold Auctions.

Renowned Sutcliffe tin boats and submarines from the 1930s are expected to fetch ?80 each, with highly-detailed Portuguese Paya-brand clockwork birds to go for around ?60.

Auctioneer Lindsey Braune said: "It's not every day that we're asked to sell a single collection of more than 2,000 pieces, so we're exited and delighted to do it.

"It's going to look great when it's all set out, it's so colourful."

The life-long toy collector was a big name in the wooden toy making world with his painter wife Mally, 55, before he was diagnosed with neurological condition MS in 2000.

He has been confined to a wheelchair for ten years and recently spasms in his hands got worse.

He said: "I can't pick them up anymore. I fling them across the room by mistake and my assistance dog Daxi isn't allowed to pick them up as they are sharp.

"I have to struggle and I have already run over about three or four recently with my wheelchair. They are well and truly dead after that and that won't do.

"I'm not too sad about it. I have kept a few special ones."

They will go under the hammer at Cotswold Auction House's Bingham Hall tomorrow at 10am.

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