Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stuart Judd - Another Fabulous Toy Collector and Contributor

July 21, 2011

Stuart Judd
Meccano Collector
Another Fabulous Toy Collector and Contributor

     I first got to know Stuart, when I purchased several nice Meccano sets here in Montreal. I knew they had value, but I didn't know how to evaluate them or whom to sell to. So I took a chance, did some research on the Web, and lo and behold, I came across Stuart. The rest, as they say is history.

    The Internet has truly been a marvel of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Where can you type in several words, and discover all kinds of information, resources, and fabulous people, all willing to share their stories and expertise with you.

    So without further fanfare, I have the honour to present to you Mr. Stuart Judd who resides in Ireland.

When Stacey asked if I’d like to contribute something for his Antique Toy blog I scratched my head for a while wondering what I could offer.  For my sins I collect the products of Meccano Ltd a once proud and famous British toy company and for those of you reading who are not familiar with Meccano here’s a quick potted history.
At the end of the nineteenth century Englishman Frank Hornby of Liverpool started making simple metal toy construction sets for his children and quickly realised the potential for these toys and in 1901 formed a company marketing small sets called Mechanics Made Easy.  Initial interest in these sets was slow but within six years sales had increased sufficiently to warrant expansion into larger premises that incorporated a factory to manufacture ‘in-house’ for the first time.  It was at this time the name Meccano was coined for the construction outfits and development of accessory parts and outfits continued with products exported all over the world.

Other diverse ‘toys’ were introduced including crystal radio sets, butter churns and the lethal saw bench many of which were of German origins but Hornby encouraged by the government of the day sought to develop his own, and his view superior products.
The “golden years” from 1926 to 1941 saw huge growth and further product diversification at Meccano.  The construction sets, or outfits to give them their proper name, were by now tastefully enamelled in dark green and red later replaced in 1934 by a beautiful new colour scheme of gold and blue. 

Hornby Gauge O Trains powered by clockwork motors developed soon after the first world war were by now hugely popular and in 1938 they were joined by OO gauge Hornby Dublo trains.  During the same period clockwork Speed Boats for use on municipal ponds and lakes, wonderfully detailed Car and Aeroplane Constructor outfits, electrical and che­­­mistry outfits and of course the famous Dinky Toys were added. 

Every town and city throughout Britain, the Commonwealth and beyond boasted one or more Meccano dealers offering mouth-watering toys and accessories to ‘Meccano Boys’.  In addition the monthly Meccano Magazine first published in 1916 now had a circulation of some 30,000 copies.  Each edition had a beautiful full colour cover and was full of interesting information pertaining to engineering feats and daring do, with Meccano model building instructions and competitions. 
The Second World War saw all toy manufacture in Britain cease as companies turned their factories over to the war effort and when peace finally arrived toy production was slow to recover and the heights of the golden years were never scaled again with several product lines dropped.  The slow and fatal decline of the British toy industry and in particular Meccano had started and culminated in the sale to Lines Brothers in 1967.  The name Meccano lives on, after several changes of ownership it is now a French company but the construction sets bear little resemblance to those we fondly remember.

As a collector of all things Meccano I concentrate on pre-war items although I do make exceptions for items from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  Meccano realised that product stagnation and decline had set in and revamped their construction outfits and other products as one last hurrah.
 My collection reflects my interest in those golden years and earlier with particular favourite product lines more in abundance than others.  Advertising and Dealer material is also eagerly sought indeed anything related to the company from reference books, catalogues and brochures, shop price tickets, factory invoices have a home in my collection.

It isn’t all about collecting though, I have a keen interest in the history of the company, the personalities behind the success story (and the decline!) and thankfully much has been written by those that worked at the factory or were connected in some way.....oh and I have been known to occasionally construct a Meccano model.

If you would like to see more of my collection, please visit: 

Stuart Judd, Ireland

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