Etched in a faltering hand, perhaps with a school compass, the car's underside reveals it to be the property of one P. McRae. The production details are imprinted just beneath the spidery signature - Humber Hawk, Dinky Toys, England, Meccano Ltd.
We don't know anything about P. McRae. It's assumed he is a boy - gender-neutrality wasn't de rigueur when this particular toy was new - but his age and other details of his life are a mystery.
This particular toy (No. 165 in the range) was released to the market in July 1959, so it's likely the young McRae acquired the toy in the 1960s.
The scratched signature indicates he wanted all to know he was the proud ownerof this particular car and to maintain ownership in the event of any 'car thieves'.
Nigel Boyle runs the Toy and Model Collectors Market in Christchurch. He says Dinky Toys were manufactured in the Meccano factory in Liverpool from the 1930s until 1979;models made from the 1950s into the 1960s ( such as the Humber Hawk) are most popular with collectors.
"There was a fantastic range with new cars released every month. These were announced in tempting colour on the rear of the popular in-house Meccano Magazine. Many New Zealanders subscribed to it to get their regular fix of things Meccano," he explains.
Dinky cars were more expensive than Matchbox toys, which were far more common in New Zealand. He says careworn models (like this one) often languish at the bottom of toy boxes and have little financial value - though good examples can make sellers some money.
Boyle says model 165 is relatively common and can be found easily on online auction sites: "They are not too hard to find in decent condition on TradeMe or eBay," he says.
"Prices for a very good unboxed model start at around $30 and go up to about $65-$70 for a near-mint example. Boxed models can be double the price, depending on the condition of the box.
"Specialists like us buy collections and this is generally how they come to the market," he says. "We recently bought a collection of nearly a thousand Dinkys from a long-time North Island collector who once had a vintage die-cast model display at his home on Waiheke Island."
While the Humber Hawk may have little financial value, its chipped and cracked exterior reveals a toy much used and much loved.
Young P. McRae must have treasured this little car; you can sense his childhood imagination piqued by its sturdy, no-nonsense British design and striking paint job.
Nearly 60 years on, the young owner of the prized car may now be in retirement, with children and grandchildren of his own.
While the future of the car remains unwritten, there is a chance that one of P. McRae's descendants may still find delight in this battered old car.
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