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Matchbox cars are a popular toy brand established in 1947 by Lesney and Rodney Smith along with their partner Jack Odell. Created at an English pub, the trio formed a partnership that forever changed toy manufacturing. Odell is credited with establishing Matchbox when he produced his iconic miniature cars for children during the holiday season.
Jack Odell helped produce the large-scale die-cast miniatures that were Matchbox’s first models. Later, he produced a model for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. Odell sold the detailed models to tourists who attended the royal event. Later, he took that same model and shrunk it down to 4 inches long, creating an instant success and a pathway to commercial production for Matchbox toys. The company sold one million coronation coaches in its first year of manufacturing.
The small-scale miniatures were dubbed Matchbox due to the size of the boxes they were sold in, essentially mimicking a box of matches in size. The company started commercial production in 1953 via Lesney Products, eliminating their earlier distributor Moko of England. Today, the company is owned by Mattel Inc. and produces commemorative lines mimicking original models with newer elements. Mattel is also known for manufacturing a competitive line in 1968 called Hot Wheels.
Matchbox collectors seek early production models as well as color variations of specific vehicles. Boxed and mint condition examples are highly regarded by today’s buyers
A rare unreleased large-scale Matchbox Liang dump truck sold at auction on March 2010 at the Matchbox Club’s 25th Convention for £10,200, a record price for a Matchbox sold at auction
In the original larger-scale coronation coach, Jack Odell paid homage to the death of King George VI in 1952, shrinking the size of the coach and adding the legs of the king inside the detailed miniature