By Terry Hardgrave
All text and photographs copyright of the author.
Dinky Toys were introduced around 1933-1934, by Meccano Ltd., at that time a very well-known English toymaker, based in Liverpool. At first, there were just a few models, of trucks, cars, and farm tractor. But public interest soon caught on, and by 1937, there were over 200 models in the range.
In 1935, Meccano decided to diversify the Dinky range a bit, with some simple structures that would add to play value, and hopefully sell more toys too. Since everything up until then was diecast, this meant using tinplate construction. Tinplate had already been around for many years, with other toy makers even making simple models out of it… it was much easier than having precision dies made.
Little is known about how Meccano produced tinplate items, but I am quite sure they bought the tinplate in sheets, stamped it out to their required dimensions, that lithographed the various scenes on it. After that, it was a simple task to assemble, using tabs that were
part of the design.
There were two tinplate items that were featured as Dinky Toys: the #45 Garage, and the #48 Filling and Service Station. Meccano also made two other small hut like structures that were much smaller, that won’t be discussed here.
According to references, the Filling Station and Garage appeared first, around mid-1935, followed a few months later by the Garage in
late 1935. Both of these were only made during this pre-war period, from 1935-1941.
The big limousine pictured with the garage is the Dinky Toys 30 series Daimler Saloon, an early post-war example with pre-war style, open baseplate, smooth wheels, and white tires – all pre-war carryovers..
In 1941, with World War II having started, and with England fighting off Hitler, all toy production ceased, and the plants were temporarily converted over to producing wartime goods. When the war ended, and production resumed in late 1945-1946, many Dinky Toys were
re-issued, some for several more years. Others, such as these two items, were never produced again, so they were only made for a few years, and finding examples today is not easy nor inexpensive.
The Garage was only made in one color scheme: cream, with green opening doors, and an orange roof. It does feature splendid lithographed details, with windows and plants adorning the sides and rear. As mentioned, the two doors do open, and have a type of latch to secure them. There is room enough to squeeze two cars inside.
The Filling and Service Station is more elaborate and larger in size. It was finished with yellow walls, green or blue base, and brown or yellow roof.
It features detailed scenes on both sides and the front… looking through the windows to see the goods stocked inside. The front even features a young man heading outside.
A natural accompaniment for the Filling and Service Station was a set of gas or petrol pumps, so the Dinky Toys #49 Petrol Pumps were created at the same time. They were not included with the station but could be purchased separately.
To complete the scene, here is a Dinky Toys pulling up to be serviced! I have included these in the photos, as they certainly add a lot to the scene.
Both of these would have been wonderful toys for young boys, who likely already had several Dinky Toys automobiles. To me, they also represent a long ago era, where the simple charm of these lithographed scenes remains today.
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