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Where can I find out what old matchbox cars are worth?

Updated March 23, 2017

Matchbox cars, the classic miniature toys, have become worldwide collectibles since their creation in England in the 1950s. With a number of collectors buying and selling Matchbox cars, finding values for them is an important part of the hobby. Collectors rely on several sources to determine the value of their Matchbox cars, including the Internet, fellow collectors and printed price guides.

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Online Auctions and Websites

When it comes to collectibles, nothing tracks the rise and fall of current prices, as well as demand, like online auction sites such as eBay. With a quick search, a collector can probably find the going rate for most Matchbox cars. Before accepting eBay results as the market rate for particular cars, however, there are several factors to take into account.

It is important to search completed listings, not ongoing auctions. There may be a dozen ongoing auctions for a particular Matchbox car, all with no (or very low) bids. This is not always an indicator of interest; many eBay auctions do not see bids until the final day of listing. Checking recent completed auctions (this can be selected through the search options) provides a better idea of overall interest and demand.

Online auctions can sometimes skew values, especially if collectors get into a bidding war. To find a car's real value, collect several results, throw out the top and bottom finishes, and average the remaining results. This should give a collector a better idea of value.

Online price guides are also available, including ToyMart.com, which provides thousands of values for die-cast cars, including the Matchbox brand. Rates, however, are in British pounds.

Die-Cast Car Collector Shows

A Matchbox collector who is looking to buy, sell or learn car values should seek out a local die-cast dealer show (which cover Matchbox as well as other brands). Even as eBay as helped "shrink" the hobby by making Matchbox cars accessible to anyone, dealer shows still provide a place to ask questions as well as buy and sell. In fact, dealer shows are often the best place for collectors to find bargains, as the demand is often less competitive than online auctions.

Charlie Mack, the founder of Matchbox USA (a national collector club) and the Matchbox Museum (in Durham, Connecticut), holds an annual convention every June in Connecticut. MBoxCommunity.com sponsors an annual show in Albuquerque.

A very comprehensive list of die-cast toy shows is available at HotWheelsCollectors.com, in the events calendar. Shows in this list are not limited to Hot Wheels; they cover all types of die-cast.

Price Guides

Printed price guides often provide a comprehensive list and visual record of Matchbox cars, even if values can become outdated with time.

Charlie Mack of Matchbox USA publishes a monthly newsletter for members that includes the latest updates on "hot" cars and includes ads and contact information to a number of the finest Matchbox dealers. He also has published a price guide, "The Encyclopedia of Matchbox Toys," which is available in bookstores.

Tom Larson is the author of "Warman's Matchbox Field Guide," one of the best guides on the subject. New editions are always coming, keeping the information up to date. It is available in bookstores and Amazon.com.

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About the Author

Victor Medina has served as a Community Voices columnist for the Dallas Morning News and editor of the NORTH TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS REPORT. He has also been featured in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and several national magazines. He blogs about politics and social issues at VictorMedina.com.

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