GLENANDA resident Peter Matthews has always had a passion for collecting and inventing and has spent his life gathering Meccano models and dollhouse miniatures. He shared some interesting stories with the CHRONICLE.
The home of Peter (85) and his wife of 67 years, Anne (82), is filled with fascinating, timeless collectables.
These include a workshop full of 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures, another workshop filled with the most amazing Meccano models and toys, over 3 000 books, hundreds of vinyl records, a teddy bear collection, an elephant figurine collection and china and crested china collections. It’s quite something to behold!
A passion for collecting
Peter grew up in England and moved to South Africa in the 1970s. Today, he and Anne live in Glenanda and sell their miniatures and Meccano models from their home. They also buy classic old toys.
Ever since Peter was a young boy, he had an interest in collecting and constructing models, such as the old Meccano toys from back in the day.
Meccano (including Dinky Toys and Hornby Trains) was created in 1901 by former Liverpool resident and member of the English parliament Frank Hornby.
Peter’s interest in models was piqued by his model railway station that he had as a child.
“There was a company in England called Hobbies that sold all these kinds of collectable toys and models, and it fascinated me,” said Peter. “I decided to bring this concept to South Africa, which is why Anne and I moved here.
“I made and sold all kinds of dollhouse miniatures and it went well, because I believe it was the only business of its kind in South Africa at that time. I used to be a part of The Dollhouse Club for miniatures hobbyists and also exhibited miniatures at the annual Dollhouse Fair that used to be held at the Blairgowrie Recreational Centre many years ago,” Peter added.
In his younger days, Peter spent much of his time creating and constructing the most intricate 1:12 scale miniatures – all different sorts – not only because it was his business, but because he found so much joy in inventing and the creative process.
Today, Peter no longer creates the models himself, but rather imports them from America to sell. Nevertheless, through his love for toys, he still maintains his “boyhood” today.
To everyone interested
Peter and Anne won’t be running this business for much longer and won’t be living in the South for very long either. They plan to move and retire in the North as soon as they sell their house. However, before they can sell it, they first have to sell all their collectables to people they know would appreciate them as much as they do.
They don’t plan on selling each collectable individually, either. Peter said he’d prefer it if each collection were sold as a whole. This, Peter said, is to ensure that the most valuable items don’t get sold first, leaving them with common collectables that nobody would be interested in buying.
It may take them a while to sell all 3 000 books (including a 168-year-old book and a set of original 1916–1929 Meccano Magazine books from the magazine’s own editor from back in the day, Ellison Hawks), hundreds of vinyl records, a teddy bear collection (including one from the 1890s), china sets, crested china sets and elephant figurine collection (some are carved out of ivory).
Each of these priceless items must go to owners who realise their cultural and historical value, owners who will love them as much as Peter and Anne do. After all, they have spent their entire lives collecting and caring for each item.
A message from Peter
“It’s a shame that children these days are only interested in buying things with buttons on them, when there is a world of hobbies out there to enjoy and learn from,” said Peter. “I take Meccano, for example. It’s good for the brain and teaches children to think and figure things out. Most of the world’s best engineers used to build and play with Meccano when they were young.
“I want to encourage all people – especially the youth of today – to collect something, anything. Even if it’s just bottle caps or matchboxes – if you find it interesting, collect it. To collect something is a learning experience. It’s interesting and informative; you can’t go wrong.”
If you have a passion for collecting or know of someone else who might be interested in buying Peter and Anne’s collectables, contact them on 011 682 2303, 073 144 0002 or [email protected]
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