The Talbot company was formed in 1903 selling cars made in France. The first British made Talbots were manufactured in 1906. By 1920 the brand was part of a conglomerate, Sunbeam, Talbot. Darracq. It was under this management that the van modelled here was produced. The name Talbot disappeared and reappeared under different owners until the name was dropped completely in 1992.
The model is of a Talbot van, which would have been manufactured in 1927. The model is one of a series introduced by Lesney in 1956 under the ‘Matchbox Models of Yesterday’ brand. Although, arguably, suitable as a child’s toy, this series was aimed at collectors of accurate scale models of classic vehicles. The first model Talbot van was released in 1978, with ten variants issued over a period of twelve years. The models were scaled 1:47. Each new release was painted in the livery of a well-known company. The one shown here, the Ever Ready Batteries model, was the seventh Talbot van released. The year was 1983. The date displayed under the model was the date of the copyright, 1978. The other vans in the series are pictured later. The companies featured were Lipton’s Tea, Chocolat Menier, Taystee Old fashioned Enriched Bread, Nestle’s Milk, Chivers and Sons, Wright’s Cold Tar Soap, Dunlop, Rose’s Lime Juice, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
The name Lesney is shown underneath the van. The The Lesney company was formed in 1947 by Leslie and Rodney Smith, who made die cast toys for London shops as Christmas gifts. The development of the company was due to a brilliant engineer and model maker, Jack Odell. His models were initially about eight inches long. He then engineered a model of The Queen’s Coronation coach, pulled by horses and with figures. This was 12-14 inches long. He then shrank it to four inches long and sales soared to more than a million. His was the idea of making models small enough to fit into a matchbox and the phenomenally successful ‘Matchbox’ brand for children was launched in 1953. By 1968 ‘Matchbox’ toys were the most successful small die-cast models in the world. In addition to cars there were lorries, tractors, buses and motor cycles.
The ‘Models of Yesterday’ series was introduced alongside the small toys, as were other larger ranges, such as ‘King Size’. There was always keen competition from Dinky and Corgi and later small ‘Hot Wheels’. The company continued to adapt, but in 1982, with a financial crisis, the company went into receivership, as did Dinky and Corgi. Matchbox was sold to Universal toys and production was transferred to Macau and later China. In 1992 the brand was acquired by Tyco and finally by Mattel in 1997.
The van shown here was made in England in 1983, so must have been one of the last models made here prior to production transferring to Macau.