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Matchbox cars at the Museum of Decorative Arts

Matchbox cars fascinated generations of boys. They are no longer produced, but now you can see some 1,500 models at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

Great Britain's Lesney company started making Matchbox toys in the 1950s, and the miniature cars were played with (and feverishly collected) by children and adults the world over. Because of their country of origin, the cars are known in the Czech Republic as "angličáky" (difficult to translate, but something like "Englishers").

Interestingly enough, early models were actually sold inside a matchbox - whose design was supposedly inspired by the Norvic box produced by Czechoslovakia’s SOLO Sušice match manufacturer. The original Matchbox 1-75 series was soon followed by additional product lines with new features and designs.

And as automobile designs changes over time, so too did the matchbox cars.There are Ford Zodiacs, VW campervans, race-cars, station wagons, trucks and more. In 1956, the company introduced its Models of Yesteryear series, which included classic automobiles such as the Ford Model T.

These models were extremely popular in Czechoslovakia due to their extraordinary precision and faithful reproduction of the originals down to the smallest details, as well as their functionality, durability and bright colours.

The exhibition presents nearly 1,500 models ranging from the first toys manufactured in the late forties and early fifties to vintage models made quite recently. Intended for audiences of every age and walk of life, the objects have been installed in a way that they can be viewed both as children’s toys and as collectors’ items.

The exhibition runs until April 1, 2013. More information is available at

December 18, 2013


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