30,000 Toy Soldiers for Auction at Bonhams

A vast collection of 30,000 toy soldiers accumulated by Dutch collector, Gijs Scholtens, is to be sold at Bonhams, Knowle, as part of its auction of Toys, Dolls and Soldiers on 5 April 2011.

Echoing the historic journey of Stadtholder William III of Orange (later King William of England, married to Mary II of England), in which he landed on British soil in 1688 with Dutch troops, and quickly shifted to relying on the British Army, Scholtens arrived in Britain this year with his own extensive army, already comprising mainly British troops.

Scholtens, a former lawyer, has been fascinated by anything army-related for his whole life. As a student he was a member of the University of Leiden’s Pro Patria Student Rifle Corps society; aged 58, he became reserve Officer in the rank of Major in the army, and later Lieutenant Colonel; and in 2007 and 2008 he was sent to Afghanistan to establish a legal authority in Uruzgan. He is currently President of the Society of Friends of the Royal Netherlands’ Army Museum.

He started to collect toy soldiers in 1993, sparked by a visit to London toy store Hamley’s with his daughter, who was 16 years old at the time. Having acquired there his first boxes of Britain’s toy soldiers, series 8800, he began to buy at collectors’ fairs and markets.

As is evident in the collection, his favourite toy soldiers are the British Household troops and colourful Highland Regiments. Highlights include Britain’s Infantry of the Line on Guard (estimate £200 – 300); Britain’s General Staff (estimate £200 – 300); Britain’s Medal Model Mounted Household Cavalry (estimate £300 – 400); and Scottish Toy Soldier Company Napoleonic Dutch Imperial Guard Regiment (estimate £200 – 300).


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