Category Archives: Drybridge Market

I Found an old Corgi and an older Dinky at Dry Bridge Market, Tbilisi

I haven’t been hunting much for diecast cars this year because of the Pandemic restrictions and because I’ve been occupied creating YouTube content. Yesterday (9 June), I made a visit to Dry Bridge Market in Tbilisi, I wasn’t expecting anything much but then I saw a Corgi DeTomaso Mangusta.

From the Corgi Catalogue 1971-72, I have 7 of the 16 Sports Cars, the DeTomaso makes it 8. I really would like to find the Iso Grifo and the Porsche 911 Targa. These have such a nostalgia buzz.

And that was not all…on Zura’s stand I spied a couple of old Dinky Toys, a truck and a Plymouth Woody.

The Plymouth “Woody” Wagon is from about 1950, a previous owner had painted over some of the details but it is still an attractive model.

I am very happy with this small haul.

Bonanza Time!

beso haul

August was looking like an uninspiring month as far as collecting went, until Sunday that is, when I visited Dry Bridge Market in Tbilisi. I saw someone was selling some Matchbox and Majorette models from the seventies. Wow!

beso sunday
Sunday’s selection

The asking price per model was 30 lari ($9.71) , which seemed reasonable to me, there was no room for negotiation. I was quite restrained and just bought two; the Iso Grifo (Matchbox) and the Jaguar E Type (Majorette), but I also took the seller’s number as he told me he had more at home.  I asked my wife to call him as my Georgian is still rudimentary and we arranged to meet at the market on Thursday (today) at 2pm. The seller, Beso, came with a case full of Majorette and Matchbox.

Beso box
Beso’s case

Before I came to the market, I reckoned on getting around ten models, if they were of similar quality to those I’d seen on the Sunday. It was a difficult choice. Not all the boxes had cars and there were a few loose, but soon I had selected ten I really wanted.

Beso Box 3
sorting through I found 10 I had to get…

My choices were mostly Majorette, whilst Matchbox is my favourite brand, most of the Matchbox were fantasy models and I prefer regular street cars.

I chose:

  1. Citroen SM (Matchbox)… I had one in a copper bronze colour but not in metallic light blue, it is also a fantastic example of a quirky French sports car, the lovechild of Citroen and Maserati. Scale 1:63. Opening doors. I’ve since been informed that the light blue version is quite difficult to find to add to my happiness.
  2. Jaguar E Type (Majorette)…I picked up an orange model on Sunday and a blue one today, Enzo Ferrari described the Jaguar E-Type (XKE on the US Market) as “the most beautiful car in the world.” 1:60 Scale. Opening bonnet (hood)
  3. Fire Truck “Pompier” (Majorette). The ladder should be detachable, but I don’t want to detach it lest it breaks. This could be a Dodge. 1:80 scale.
  4. Plymouth Fury Police Car (Majorette). This model should have an aerial (missing). 1:70 scale
  5. Mercedes 350SL (Majorette). This model I had as a kid and it was on my Wants’ list. Beso had two: one in white, one in yellow, as I had the yellow model as a kid, I had to choose that. Scale 1:60. Opening boot (trunk).
  6. Citroen DS Ambulance (Majorette). This model has a different style box to the others. It has blue flags on the bumpers and an opening rear door. Scale 1:65.
  7. BMW 3.0CSi (Majorette). Like the Mercedes, this was also a model I had as a kid but in orange, not metallic dark red. Scale 1:60. Opening doors.
  8. Citroen SM (Majorette). The Majorette is a very similar colour to the original Matchbox model. Scale 1:60. Opening doors.
  9. Citroen Dyane “Maharadjah” (Majorette). This is a strange quirky model with a parasol that spins in Rolamatics fashion when the car is rolled along.
  10. Dodge Charger  Mk 3 (Matchbox). #52 This is a concept car from 1968 with a flip up canopy. Scale 1:62.

Beso box 2
My selection

I was surprised I was able to limit myself to just 10 models. Even so, the day witnessed the most I have spent in one day on diecast models, indeed the most I have spent in any month on such. I have very few cars with boxes, all of these have boxes, although some are missing their end flaps. The Matchbox cars are all made in England and the Majorettes are all made in France. I am very happy with this haul.

I told Beso if he still has some models in October, I could be interested in buying some more. There were also a couple of empty boxes (Saab Sonnet and Mercury Police Car) which would interest me if he finds the appropriate car. Also there was a two pack of a car with glider and trailer, but he only had the trailer, this could interest me too if he finds the rest.

I managed to cross 4 cars off my Majorette Wants’ List, of the 10 cars on the list, which I put up back in 2017, I only have two Renaults left to find. I wish it was so easy to find my Matchbox wants!

Majorette wants from Wants’ List   (published 23 September 2017):

  1. Citroen SM (found 27 August 2020)
  2. Renault 17
  3. Simca 1100 (found 18 March 2018)
  4. Mercedes 350SL (found 27 August 2020)
  5. Chrysler 180 (found 23 May 2019)
  6. Jaguar E Type (found 23 August 2020)
  7. Matra Simca Bagheera (found 2 May 2018)
  8. BMW 3.0CSL (found 27 August 2020)
  9. Renault 16 
  10. Jaguar F Type (found 24 November 2018)




I found 3 Majorette Cars at Dry Bridge Market today.

I first encountered Majorette when I visited Paris at the tender age of 9, way back in 1974. They were similar in size to Matchbox but Made in France not Made in England. The first model cars appearing  on the market under the Majorette name came out in 1964.

Today, I ventured to Dry Bridge Market not expecting to find anything much, last month I found a couple of interesting models at Dry Bridge Market, a Matchbox Super Kings Ford Sierra XR4i and a Soviet made Moskvitch 427.

P1780669 (2)
Amidst a diverse range of items, 5 model cars, three of which are Majorettes.

The three Majorette cars were all from the mid seventies: a Chrysler 180, a Matra-Simca Bagheera and a Peugeot 504. When I went to Paris as a nine year old the three Majorette cars I brought back as souvenirs included a Chrysler 180 (so there is a big nostalgia buzz there), the other two were a BMW 3.0CSL and a Mercedes 350SL. I asked the woman on the stall the price of the cars and she told me 15 lari a piece ($4.88), which seemed reasonable, then she hesitated and called her husband over and the price went up to 20 lari a piece or 3 for 50 lari ($16.26). I still considered this a good deal, the woman was apologetic her husband had upped the price, I didn’t take long to decide, I was also given a box for a Bertone Camargue, from the same era (but no car).

Chrysler 180 (orange), Peugeot 504 (pink) and Matra Simca Bagheera (green). Also a box for a Bertone Camargue.


Dinky Austin A40 Van from the late fifties.

I was very surprised today to find this old Dinky van at Dry Bridge Market here in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Austin A40 Van
Austin Van “Raleigh Cycles”

This model was produced in England between 1956 and 1960, it was from an era before Dinkys had windows. In 1956 Corgi had just entered the market in direct competition with Dinky and their cars were being advertised as “the ones with the windows”. The model is playworn and the front tyre is cracked but, considering it is around 60 years old, it is not in bad shape. It is one of the few models in my collection older than me.

The Austin A40 Van (#472) is advertising “Raleigh Cycles”, others advertised BP and Nestle. A rare version advertising Omnisport, a general store in El Salvador, went for an incredible £6, 400 at auction (Dinky toy van fetches £6,400 in furious bidding at auction).

I don’t have many Dinky Toys, they don’t have the same Nostalgia Buzz as Corgi and Matchbox. This model predates my birth (1964 ) and is unlike the models I remember playing with as a child. I can relate better to the slightly later Triumph Herald (#189) (1960-1964) as this has windows, independent suspension and is closer to the cars I played with as a child.

Austin A40 Van and Triumph Herald
Two Old Dinky Toys: Triumph Herald (1960-1964) and Austin A40 Van (1956-1960)

Therein lies a tale…

I remember my 8 year old self in the school playground some 45 years ago. We would play a game of car “tag”, where we’d push our toy cars across the asphalt trying to tag (bump) our friends’ cars. I had a brand new Corgi Marcos Mantis, given to me by my Uncle Norman, a week earlier. Uncle Norman was Dad’s friend, who would visit once a year and bring a shiny new diecast for my brother and I. I remember pushing my car gently onto a drain cover, I thought it a sneaky move to win the game as the others wouldn’t dare chase me there.

drain cover (not the actual one but of a similar design)

Then I gave another slight push and to my horror the car slid and fell into the drain, with a loud plop. I don’t remember crying but my heart dropped. It was not possible to lift the drain cover, my car was gone.

Gocha’s Stall, Dry Bridge Market

45 years later, a visit to Dry Bridge Market in Tbilisi, and to my great surprise, I find a Corgi Marcos Mantis on Gocha’s stall. A few chips and a grubby interior but otherwise in good condition. The asking price a mere 20 lari ($8). I sincerely doubt it is the one I dropped in the drain but it serves as an adequate replacement. I, alas, am unable to console my eight-year-old self, he has long passed into the ether of time, but it does have that frisson of nostalgia, which fuels my collecting.

Corgi Marcos Mantis

One thing is for sure, this one is not going anywhere near a drain cover! There are some other diecast memories from my childhood, but those tales should wait until I find the relevant models: a Dinky Ford Capri, a Dinky Lotus Europa, a Matchbox Pickford’s Removal Van….

Dry Bridge Market (Selling)

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York Tbilisi.

I have for a long time been a customer at Dry Bridge Market, a fleamarket in Tbilisi, the best place for finding older model cars in Tbilisi. Today, Dry Bridge Market is a mecca for tourists but it hasn’t always been like this; in the wilderness years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dry Bridge Market was used by those who wanted to leave Georgia and were desperate to convert their goods into quick cash before leaving the country. Everything is laid out on the ground, often carefully arranged on sheets of material, other times it is a haphazard collection. You never know what you will find here. One person might be trying to sell you twenty-year-old phone or an old toothbrush, while their neighbour will be touting ceramic cosmonauts and silver jewellery.

Karo’s stall

We have recently moved to Saburtalo from Varketili and the new flat is smaller and my model car collection is far too big to display so, I decided to have a go at selling some of the excess in my collection at the market.

These were the models I selected.

I took along over 50 models. I thought I’d keep it simple, the majority were priced at 3 lari a piece (about $1.20), a few at 5 lari and the Beatles Yellow Submarine at 20 lari (I’ve seen this model selling for 25 lari in Hobby Master in Pekini Street). Many of the models cost me more originally, this wasn’t intended as an exercise to profit from my collection. I wanted to experience the other side of the market transaction. I was also interested to see if there were other collectors, having a hobby is more interesting when you know like-minded individuals. I know many other collectors from Internet forums but not locally.


My spot by the road in front of a Zhiguli (Lada)

I arrived late in the day (2pm…the market begins at 10am) as I didn’t want to put myself in anyone’s place, I didn’t wish  to create a potential conflict by setting up inadvertently in a regular’s space. As I was setting up, before I’d even got all the cars out of my bag another trader bought up eight of my larger scale cars (all made in China) for a bargain 20 lari (in the markets and shops they retail at between 6 and 12 lari a piece).

P1640098 My Georgian language skills are limited (see my other blog : The Reluctant Georgian Learner) but I know the numbers, my Russian is non-existent so I used fingers with Russian speakers to communicate price. Unlike many traders I advertised my prices, other traders will not show their prices and often quote one price to Georgian speakers, another to Russian speakers and a higher price in English to those who speak neither Russian nor Georgian.

1 car = 3 lari, 1 car in the packaging is 5 lari and the Yellow Submarine is 20 lari

All my customers haggled, some I accepted, some I refused. As a customer I have noticed some traders won’t haggle. I found disappointingly most of my customers were other traders, like Gocha who was selling ceramics and bric-a-brac on an adjacent stall. I was hoping to find some collectors to make future trades with. I did swap a Norev Ligier for a French Dinky Jeep but that was the only trade of a car for a car.

Gocha trying to sell a vase, which matches the lady’s dress.

Gocha shows off the Soviet made Lada he bought from me for a bargain 5 lari, while another trader eyes me with suspicion.

I made up a few display signs as the afternoon wore on, I don’t think they helped. Finally around 5.30 pm, Gocha asked me how much I wanted for all the remaining cars (36 in total), I suggested a very generous 30 lari, he offered 20, I somewhat reluctantly agreed but retained two rather playworn Matchbox models from the 1970s and the Yellow Submarine.

Gocha got all these minus the models ringed and the Ligier in the lower right hand corner for just 20 lari (about $8)

My pack was a lot lighter leaving. I did pick up a couple of models myself, a Corgi BMC Mini Cooper S from another Gocha, a Hot Wheels Mercedes C 111 from a guy who sells football programmes, a French Dinky Jeep Depannage Breakdown which I swapped with a Norev Ligier JS1 and a wooden rhino (given to me by a trader to whom I’d given a Matchbox Mercedes).

My Haul

I didn’t make a fortune,  that was not the object of the exercise. The buyers got some real bargains. When asked if I would return, I said I would next Monday, weather permitting. I still have far too many model cars (around 800) but like many collectors they have a personal value to me that I can’t quantify and I’m reluctant to part with them. I tried to examine the psychology behind this in a previous post Reflections on Why I collect diecast cars?

Tbilisi seems to have few people into collecting model cars, here they are seen as just a playthings for children, nothing more.

The models I took but didn’t sell (the yellow Corvette didn’t even come out of the bag)


I made a video clip on my phone of Dry Bridge Market back in August (it is not the slickest of videos): Drybridge Market (YouTube)