Greetings to everybody, especially Dave B !
I suppose that the Dinky 582/982 Pullmore Car Transporter is one of the more popular and long-lived Dinky models, having been available for eleven years from 1953 until 1963. I find it surprising therefore that the 990 Gift set with four cars, which offered so much play potential, was only available for just under three years - maybe it was just too expensive ?
In Ramsays catalogue, it is listed as available from 1956 to 1958, and indeed I have an early set which has an inspection stamp on the inside of the lid 'XB 1056', being October 1956, and a pencilled price on one lid end of 28/6d. Although the set was not included in the June 1956 catalogue, my copy of that catalogue has a hand-written note on the back cover next to the picture of the 982 - "with 4 cars, 28/6d" - but of course, that could have been added months after the catalogue print date which is 7/456/800 i.e. April 1956.
The first official reference I can find for it is in the February 1957 leaflet DT/CF/3 which has a price of Â£1-8-11, and this price was maintained over the next two years until it last appeared in the April 1958 catalogue. There appears to be no reference to the set after this date, although I would imagine that there were still some stocks available up until Christmas that year - so it would seem that the information in Ramsays is correct.
Having always had a desire to obtain one of these sets, I eventually won a set from Wallis & Wallis in their September 1995 auction - but when it arrived, I was rather disappointed that the actual set did not seem to live up to the auction catalogue description (does that sound familiar, Bruce?) as the box was worn, punctured, missing packing pieces etc. and the cars and transporter were considerably paint-chipped, rusty baseplates etc. - so much so that the set didn 't join the other models in my cabinet. Although my search for a better set didn't stop, all the good ones which I saw at toyfairs and auctions were priced way out of my reach, so the set just stayed on my 'wish-list '.
However, in 2008 I came across a set which looked in unbelievably good condition, from an eBay seller in Brisbane, and I was fortunate to win it at what was a most reasonable price. When I received it a week later, I was amazed - it was literally 'Mint-Boxed' - so I contacted the seller, and he told me this story :
His father was one of two brothers, and the other brother (Uncle Brian) had never married. He lived in a nearby suburb in Brisbane, but the two brothers didn't see each other very often. In 2008, Uncle Brian, in his 80's, passed away - and the nephew (Peter) was delegated to clear out his uncle's house which was to be sold.
In the living room was a sideboard which contained all sorts of household items - but right at the back, Peter found a brown paper package tied up with string (aren't they some of your favourite things?) and written on the paper was the inscription "To Peter, happy christmas 1957, from Uncle Brian". Of course, Peter was mystified - obviously something had happened to prevent the present from being given, but what? Had he done something wrong? Had his father and uncle fallen out? He could think of nothing, but of course unwrapped the package to reveal the Dinky 990 Gift Set, brand new and never taken out of it's box all those years. He then said that, as he had now grown out of toy cars, he would sell it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This is how I found the set once I had taken the lid off :
Bearing in mind that in Ramsays, the set is described as having one packing piece, this is 'what's in the box' when you unpack it :
If you include the sleeve for the ramp, there are actually seven packing components: the ramp sleeve; a cover with folded ends for the ramp sleeve; an upper and a lower packing cut-out piece; a corrugated card base cut-out for the cab and cars to rest on; as well as :
two extra corrugated card pieces, one which slides in over the roofs of the cars on the lower deck to protect them from rubbing on the underside of the upper deck, and one to separate the two lower-deck cars. Paint protection 1957-style !
So now, all we have to do is warn the driver of the Zephyr to exercise careful clutch and accelerator control - that ramp looks almost as steep as Porlock Hill - and to jump on the brakes as soon as he gets to the top, or look out Somerset !
The only thing I didn 't mention is that the box lid has the inspection stamp 'HJ 577' which of course is July 1957 - bear in mind the time for shipping from England to Australia, so this set would have probably been in the Dinky dealer's shop in Brisbane by October that year, and I would think that the set was bought soon thereafter. You may notice that the base packing cut-out is torn in two places, which I have subsequently repaired - probably done when taking the transporter out of the box to show Uncle Brian ?
Although my earlier set has both a "LF" sticker on one box lid end, and the transporter has a "20" decal on the tailgate, this later set has neither. The earlier set also has a Zephyr with dark green lower sides, whereas the later set has one with lime-green sides and the rear numberplate mask-sprayed in aluminium - so confirming that these changes happened some time between October 1956 and July 1957.
I spent a worthwhile afternoon yesterday cleaning and repairing the earlier set box, which I am pleased to say looks much better than the over-enthusiastic description given it by Glenn B. in 1995 in his Lewes auction catalogue !
As always, I hope you find this of interest - if anyone can add more specific information about production dates, I would be pleased to hear from you. And Dave B. - hope this contribution has lived up to your expectations !
Regards to all, Adrian.