Dinky 289 Routemaster Bus
The decision to release a commemorative model for the 10th Anniversary of the Model Car Collectors' Club of New Zealand was first made at the Club's Annual General Meeting, held in Dunedin, in 1978. Those present at the meeting agreed an approach should be made to Models Limited, the then importers of Dinky Toys, to see if a number of Dinky Double Decker Buses could be made available to the Club for the commemorative model. According to some of those at the meeting, Mark Steele attended the meeting and as he was employed by Models Limited at the time, he was asked to look into the purchase of 50 models. Although memories are vague after all this time it is thought the original idea for the Dinky commemorative model came from the fact the Otago Branch of the Club had prepared a limited edition run (Code 3) of Fun Ho! #56 Landliner Bus models to commemorate the AGM in 1978.
As stated above the model chosen to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Club was the Dinky 289 Bus. Mark advised the Club Committee that he could get the buses and 50 were purchased. Ivan Whitley, of Invercargill, had the stickers produced in Invercargill and the whole thing came together in 1979. Maurice Wooley, member #5 and a founding member of the Club, who was living in Palmerston North ended up with both the models and the stickers and completed the job of assembling the models. The buses were supplied in the original colour, red, and had the standard issue "Esso" labels. The models were not repainted and the "Esso" labels were not removed, they were simply over-labelled with the new blue commemorative labels. It is not known how much the original cost to the Club was nor what the sales price to the members was. No certificate was supplied with the model.
Due to some administrative mix up, Maurice ended up paying for the models and the production of the stickers. That is how he came to be the seller of the models, rather than the Club itself which was supposed to reimburse him for the expense of producing the model. Maurice advises that of the original 50 models all but six or seven were sold to members of the club. The remaining six or seven were mainly sold, over a period of about ten years, to overseas collectors with the last two or three being used in a swap with prominent bus collector and dealer, John Gay of England, for other models that Maurice wanted to acquire for his extensive collection.
As with most collectibles "value" depends on the beholder. Maurice recounts how, when visiting England in 1994, he met John in the flesh for the first time at a swapmeet. On his table he had one of the Club Commemorative Buses for sale at an asking price of Twenty Pounds. Maurice remembers that about two years earlier an example of the bus came up for auction through the Vectis Auction house in England. It fetched Eightyfive Pounds, a remarkable sum for such a model at the time.
My thanks: to Maurice Wooley for taking the time to recall and jot down the facts on this interesting item. Also my thanks go to him for bringing along an example of the real thing for me to view!
If you have ANY further information on this Dinky model or know of someone who is prepared to sell an example to a member of the Club
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