Before there was Corgi Toys there was Mettoy, founded in Northampton in 1933 by German émigré Philip Ullmann who was later joined by South African-born German Arthur Katz who had previously worked for Ullmann at his toy company Tipp and Co of Nuremberg. The firm made a variety of lithographed metal wind-up toys. Both Jewish, they moved to Britain following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. In 1956 they launched Corgi Toys as a new brand specialising in finely modelled diecast model toys.
Prior to the launch of Corgi there had been a Mettoy diecast Karrier Bantam bottle float, in 1957 this model was absorbed into the new Corgi Toys range and painted blue. The Karrier Bantam was the the light truck produced by the Commer division of the Rootes Group from the late 1940s to the end of the 1960s and was ubiquitous as a municipal refuse truck, road sweeper etc and urban delivery van. The Corgis are 1 ton and 2 ton trucks, at the time the quoted weight was payload weight, rather than gross vehicle weight as is now the case in the UK.
455 Bottle Float
The Corgi bottle float is the blue one below, the red one is by Mettoy from before the launch of the Corgi brand, it is interesting to note that about five years later Corgi were back making Co-Op liveried trucks. The Karrier Bantam 2 Tonner was released in January 1957 as a Corgi, remaining in the range until 1960. The Great Book of Corgi has it in blue with a red loadbed. In Ramsay it is also mentioned in red and in grey, both still with the red loadbed. No premium is put on these other colours. I suspect they are probably referring to the pre-Corgi Mettoy releases. The ex-Mettoy model returned with filled-in sides as the Lucozade van a year later in1958 and again in 1962 as the Dairy Produce van
407 Mobile Shop
Economy with modelling. Mettoy, who set up the Corgi brand, re-used the Karrier delivery truck model that had previously been sold as a Co-Op pop delivery van as the Karrier Bantam 2 Tonner. Now the cab is re-used here with the Smiths mobile shop back-body to create the Mobile Shop, The cast base is a bit of a give-away, the moulded prop shaft is very similar to the old Mettoy bottle float. There's more mileage yet to be had from this old war horse. Its last outing is in 1963 as the chippy van after being used as a mobile butcher's shop and a circus ticket office. In the 'Hygienic Mobile Shop' version the Smiths 1 Ton Van body on the Karrier Bantam was in the Corgi range from 1957 to 1962. There are no recorded variations.
The mobile Corgi toy shop below is a code three model based on a prototype which never went into production.
411 Lucozade Van
Another trip out for the durable Karrier Bantam light truck. There had been two Karrier Bantams released the previous year in 1957, one was a new casting for the Smiths 1 ton van which was around for years in a number of guises and the other was the open sided version of this two tonner. That itself was a rehash of an old pre-Corgi Mettoy which is shown below.
Putting the models side by side you can see where the casting has been altered, but underneath they are the same model. This is a nice toy and putting the roller shutter on the side was a neat touch. The Commer Walls & ERF Moorhouses vans use a back body with no openings - that was no fun to play with. If its a wagon you have to be able to put things in it and cart them around.
The Karrier Bantam Lucozade Truck was released in August 1958. It remained in the range in this form until 1962 when it was given a make-over as a milk van and renumbered 435, before being deleted finally the following year. The box has an effect on value here, the early blue box trucks being worth a little more than later releases in a blue and yellow box.
413 Butcher’s Shop
The Mobile Butcher's Shop was produced from 1960 to 1964. It is not a model that sold in huge quantities and today is relatively hard to find so a mint in box example will cost you quite a lot. There is only this one colour, pale duck-egg with a light blue roof however I have seen references to a factory error example with the Mobile Shop stickers and Ramsay mentions a version with spring suspension which I didn't believe existed, however thanks to LW Museum user Stijn Althuizius of The Netherlands, I now know differently as he has found one.
When you look closely at the windows you will see a pigs head with an apple in its mouth. I'm not sure how many toys on sale today have picture of the severed head of a pig displayed in this manner, ah well, time marches on. On the other side of the van there are what appear to be pork pies displayed underneath a hanging leg of pork, the Environmental Health boys would have this van closed down in an instant.
The butcher's van came round to our farm twice a week with fresh meat. It had similar standards of hygiene to this motor. It wasn't a big walk-through tonner van like this though, it was a 12cwt, an Austin J4 I think or a Bedford CA, the fish man definitely had a Bedford, but both of them had their stock on wooden trays in the back of the van, or in buckets of iced water (no refrigeration). They would both then do the cutting, chopping, gutting, slicing whatever on a wooden board on the rear floor of the van, standing in the road behind the open doors, out in the good fresh air. There's no wonder I never suffer from upset stomach, I got my antibodies good, strong and early.
As ever this brings on further reminiscences of an old bloke. Why can you no longer buy pies from the butcher? - they were always better than ones from baker's shops, never mind the awful manufactured items from the chippy. On market day in Ulverston we used to buy a hot pork pie from the pork butcher, running with scalding melted jelly, and then go and buy a bag of chips from Stretch's. The pie would be about a shilling and the chips sixpence, then we'd go down to the rose gardens and eat them sitting on a bench. We were classy though, no eating a pie out of a bag as we walked down the street, someone might see us and tell our mam.
426 Chipperfield's Circus Booking Office
The first version of this casting arrived in 1957 as the mobile shop, then came the mobile butchers. After the circus booking office came the last version, the mobile snack bar. I suspect that as the Smiths one ton van had the same die cast base as the Bantam open sided bottle float and that it was another hangover from Mettoy days. It is not an easy to find Corgi, only just over 100,000 were made (compared to 1.6 million bubble cars - released in the same month) which explains its rarity. The van was released in January 1962 and deleted in 1964, turned hubs get a better price than spun hubs.
435 Dairy Produce van
I'm a great fan of the Corgi range planners at the peak of the brand's powers, you only have to read the articles I've written on this website to understand how I admire their judgement and innovation. How the hell then did they find themselves releasing this toy based on an old pre-Corgi Mettoy model of a Co-op soft drinks delivery van from the early 50s with no seats and no suspension in 1962? This is post some of Corgi's best-ever models - it was released the year after the Ecurie Ecosse Racing Transporter - what the hell was going on? I have a faint residual memory of this milk promotion being part of an anti drink-driving campaign, getting the kids on board first and shaming their dads into behaving themselves - but it is only faint and may not be accurate. Had it been released in 1956 I'd be writing some grudging praise of a smart van with a nice opening shutter - in 1962 that no longer held water.
The Karrier Dairy Produce Van was released as part of a small sub-range of milk promotional models in May 1962, it remained in the range for just one year and sales were small so there are not that many of these around now and you may have to pay out a bit to get one. There are no listed variations.
471 Joe's Diner
There is a Mettoy Karrier Bantam shown elsewhere on this website made by this company in the early fifties before they launched the Corgi brand, the casting of the Mettoy item found its way into the Corgi range, but it's hard to believe it's still turning up a decade later. I suppose though that chip vans are rarely built on new vehicles - the ones you see in the lay-bys of Britain are usually beat-up old things, so to be authentic it's OK to base it on a van from the previous decade. Nice bit of modelling on the interior though, clever use of Trans-o-Lite to light the sign over the cab too. There is a UK version and an export version - for Belgium I think where they put mayonnaise on your chips - hmm...
Order of release:
|Mettoy; Karrier Bantam Two-Ton Bottle Float; Red ‘CWS’||
Corgi Toys 455; Karrier Bantam Two-Ton Bottle Float; Blue, Red Deck
|Corgi Toys 407; Karrier Bantam Mobile Shop; Hygienic Mobile Shop||Corgi Toys Code 3; Karrier Bantam Mobile Shop; Corgi Toy Shop||Corgi Toys 411; Karrier Bantam Lucozade Van; Turned Hubs|
|Corgi Toys 411; Karrier Bantam Lucozade Van; Yellow, Spun Hubs||Corgi Toys 413; Karrier Bantam Butcher’s Shop; White, Blue Roof||Corgi Toys 426; Karrier Bantam Chipperfields Circus Booking Office; Spun Hubs||Corgi Toys 435; Karrier Bantam Dairy Produce Van||Corgi Toys 471; Karrier Bantam Mobile Canteen; Joe's Diner|
|Corgi Toys 471; Karrier Bantam Mobile Canteen; Patates Frites, Belgian Issue|