Sixty-eight-year-old Simon Hope's Matchbox collection was so massive that he had to use three different auctions to clear the whole lot. Hope amassed almost 3,000 of the tiny toys, and all told, the auctions pulled in nearly $400,000. The most expensive vehicle almost hit the $10,000 mark.
Hope is the founder and Chief Auctioneer at H&H Classics in the United Kingdom. There, he's been running the show for approximately 30 years and has dealt with a variety of items such as classic cars, motorcycles, aircrafts, carpets, and other antiques. His first classic car was a 1947 Sunbeam Talbot Ten in high school, and he has owned a De Dion Bouton, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Riley, Cadillac, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Maseratis, Ferraris, Lotuses and a Mille Miglia Allard J2 since.
Before (and after) the Talbot, his passion for motor vehicles was stored in small rectangular cardboard boxes. In a note written by Hope himself, he says his parents started buying them for him at age 2. The passion infiltrated his imagination, but he was not one to drive them on the wall in the bath or down the driveway outside.
"I simply opened the box, took the model out, looked it all over, ran it a couple of times along the table or floor, and promptly put it back in the box," the note details. "It didn’t help when Gran simply refused to let me play with them at all when we went to see her. It then got put on a shelf in my bedroom and waited until the next birthday etc for another friend to join it on the shelf. This continued until I started to earn pocket money or ‘paper round’ money, and it all went on models (well maybe the odd sweet) and most of those models are included in this sale."
Because of this, the collectibles are in incredible condition and still in the original packaging. Although some of the cars in the collection are extremely rare and desired, Hope points out he was never chasing. If he saw something that sparked joy, he bought it.
"I was not, though, still really collecting," he said in the note. "I had not joined a club, I did not have a price guide or a list of rare models or anything - I just bought what I liked but I was buying lots, and luckily, I met Julian Royse from Vectis early on and he helped point me in the right direction."
If this news sounds familiar, it might be because Hope's intentions caught the news cycle in 2019. The first auction on Vectis, the self-proclaimed leading specialist toy auctioneer, is dated April 24, 2019. Part 2 is dated September 24, 2019, and Part 3 is dated November 26, 2019.
The news today is that the entire collection reportedly raked in more than $390,000, according to The Classic Cars Journal. The priciest sale reportedly landed at $9,139 for a lime green ERF Dropside truck.
Typically, a massive auction dump signals the end of a collection, but collectors are never finished. Hope says the main reason he sold was storage space.
"No room left, so I am just keeping a selected 1500 or so," he said. "I will still be at the sales for the odd one I am missing. ... My world is auctions. Real full-size Collector Cars, Motorcycles and Automobilia at H&H Classics. So I bid you the best of luck."