Triang Minic No 56ME Rolls-Royce / Daimler 'Sunshine' Saloon with Electric Headlamps 1938-1940.

Take a moment to read Jan Werner's excellent post from Sunday, November 09, 2008 - 09:27 pm:

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Jan Werner

Posted on Sunday, November 09, 2008 - 09:27 pm:   

MINIATUREAUTOBIOGRAPHY – or the eventful life of a Tri-ang Minic Rolls-Royce ‘Sunshine’ Saloon of 1938

Attached to the model presented here there is a story, a story which is more important than the model itself.

Some time ago already, I had my silver jubilee as a senior employee. As usual, such an event yields a lot of presents from colleagues: bottles of wine, flowers, book tokens, gift coupons, envelopes with money etc. But among them there were two colleagues who had more original, daring presents.

The first one, a paper restorator, gifted me with a completely restored Dinky Toys box, the one which I had desperately given along with him in a seemingly irrecoverable, fully crumbled state some weeks before. The no. 706 Air France Vickers Viscount box, packed as a present, with a knot of ribbons around, was like new again!

But the other present was the most impressive and … emotional one. It was the model which fits into this thread. Subsequent to the thirtysomethingth book token and bottle one colleague addressed to me a bit more explicitly than the others. He congratulated me and he excused himself immediately for the worn, humble present which he hoped I – as a collector of Dinky Toys – might like. If it would not cope with my quality standards, he would take it back right away and send me a book token after all. It was just an old toy from his childhood years.

As soon as I had opened the little package and he saw my apparently happily surprised face, he dared continue his introduction to the present. There was a story with it, which he did not want to withhold from me. Rather emotionally he told me the following story, in about these words:

“This little car – I do not believe it’s a Dinky Toy – has been mine for a very long time already, since a few years preceding the war. I was born in the Netherlands East Indies in 1932. In 1938/39 I accompanied my parents on their leave to The Netherlands. We were also in London for a short time, and I got from my uncle, who was living there, this miniature car. Not very long after that, this uncle died in a German air raid over London.
Just before hostilities burst out, we could escape and return to the East-Indies again. After that I saved this car through all war dramas which we experienced in the subsequent years. Among others it survived three years of Japanese concentration camps.
My toy did not survive the war without any damage. Not only the camp but also the damp and hot tropical weather contributed to that. The rubber tyres had perished completely after some time and the paint is not 100% anymore. Also, the electric lights have gone and the spring of the motor did not survive my nerve-wracking childhood years either. Still, I have never been able to part with it, despite all clearing away actions in the decades after that.”

My colleague suspected that my modelcar hobby was rather more serious than just spending money and then quickly putting new acquisitions on a shelf. So he judged it a very good solution to trust this little car to me, as he was going to move to a smaller house in the near future, as a retired person. Of course I was very much impressed and – though not knowing much about Tri-ang Minics - I could tell him that it most probably was just due to his English journey that he, as a Dutch boy, was able to receive such a Tri-ang Minic car. In my opinion Tri-ang Minics were hardly known and hardly for sale in The Netherlands in the prewar years. Well, both of us were extremely happy with this jubilee transfer.

The Rolls-Royce Sunshine Saloon is a robust model of ca. 13 cm long, issued by Lines Bros. Ltd. of Merton in 1938. It belongs to a small sub-group of Minics which could also be obtained with electric lights. All models have a clockwork motor and they all have the same relative scale, from cars to trucks.

Replacement of the perished tyres was easy. Unfortunately the head lights are lacking indeed after all these years. Compare the mint red and green example, once auctioned by Christie's, which shows what my gift must have looked like when it was sold to my colleague’s uncle in 1939.

The rear bumper is missing too.

And the clockwork motor must have been out of order for a long time already.

The maker’s name has been embossed down under the blue tinplate baseplate.

The model’s name is lacking though.

Although playworn, this model is not very common, anyway not in The Netherlands. A Rolls-Royce model collector friend of mine has a few thousands of Rolls-Royce models, but not this one. Ramsay mentions an astronomical price for a mint model. He gives 1940 as the final year of production for this model. The grey blue colours of this one are neither mentioned with the regular version, nor with the electric version.

Although this model does not fit into my collection – it is not a Dinky and far from excellent or perfect – I will cherish it with passion. All those visible scars of a long, eventful life are lacking on all those pristine, mint & boxed models, which you hardly dare touch anymore nowadays. They may be fifty or sixty years old, but they have not gone through many things, a story is missing.
That’s why I wanted to share this very special miniatureautobiography with you!

Kind regards, Jan Werner
David John Busfield (Buzzer)

Posted on Monday, November 10, 2008 - 10:10 am:       

Hi Jan

I have found a Triang advert in the May 1939 Meccano Magazine which I think will interest you.

It is not the Rolls Royce but a Daimler and is very similar to the one you show in your fascinating article above.

Here is a close-up of the Daimler which was priced at 3/6 with headlamps and 2/6 without, I suspect that models with the electrics would have been very rare.

I am still filling a few gaps in my Meccano Magazine collection between 1934 and 1940 I will look out for a Rolls Royce and post it if I find one
Jan Werner
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2008 - 12:10 pm:       

Thanks David, indeed Tri-ang advertisements are abundantly represented in many issues of Meccano Magazine.
My documentation is rather well organized, but I cannot find the even more elaborate advertisement - I don't know which source, I believe even in colour - which shows more Minic models, including the Rolls. Perhaps someone can give me a hint or show it to us?
David, in some 10 days' time you'll be able to have the model in your hands - additional cryptical remark of mine.
Kind regards, Jan Werner
Chris Clemons
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2008 - 12:19 pm:       

One of the best references for Triang Minic toys is "The Minic Book" by Peter Bartok, published by New Cavendish Books, first edition published in 1987.


The photographs are superb and each model is shown with a short but accurate description. Your pre-war example is shown, together with a post-war example, on page 30 of the book. Unfortunately my scanner has not done justice to the colour in the actual photo so do not regard this as an accurate copy.



Jan Werner
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2008 - 09:16 pm:       

Thanks Chris, now my suspicion is confirmed that the sliding roof panel is missing too!

Kind regards, Jan Werner