Maurice Collins

Maurice Collins

Eccentric Maurice Collins, owner of a weird and wonderful collection of off-beat antique gadgets - including the world's first ever Sat Nav - has taken up top honours as Britain’s Best Collector in a nationwide search.
Former printer Maurice, 76, began gathering strange devices and inventions 35 years ago when he took his teenage son to a rubbish dump near their home to go 'bottle digging'.
Since then he has amassed close to 1,600 items ranging from a clockwork burglar alarm to an electric hair-restoring comb.
He is also the proud owner of two clockwork teasmaids, a finger stretcher and a mechanical envelope sealer.
Father-of-two Maurice Collins of London who has been named bid tv's Best British Collector, said: "I don't think anyone else loves collecting  'thingy-me-bobs' from the past as much as I do.
"I started in around 1976 and since then it has become a bit of a hobby."
After collecting the £2,000 prize from bid tv to celebrate the launch of their Collectibles Club, Maurice added: ''I am thrilled. I will give the money to the charity I set up, Kith & Kids.''
Amongst other things Maurice and his 14-year old son Paul discovered in the rubbish dump in Scratchwood, North London, three decades ago was an old Hiram Codd bottle complete with marble which was designed to prevent the content's gas escaping. 

It was this bottle design that resulted in the saying, 'What a load of Codd’s Wollop!’ when someone is talking ‘hot air’.
Their intriguing find sparked an obsession which has seen Maurice amass around 1,600 items.
His most treasured items are two clockwork teasmaids, which are each worth four figure sums.
The device comprises a clockwork alarm which triggers a lever, which lights a match, which boils the water, which then pours out one's tea.
Many of the items are kept in museums or exhibitions, but Maurice's home in East Finchley is an Aladdin's Cave of historical inventions, gadgets and tools.
Maurice, who was a printer in his early years before he set up a business organising business to business exhibitions, said: "The teasmaids are my pride and joy, I managed to lay my hands on one years ago.
"And for a long time I thought it was the only one in Britain, then another one cropped up at an auction. I just had to buy it.I couldn't bear anyone else owning it.
"The lark roaster is the oldest item I own, that dates back to 1800s, most of my collection was invented between 1850 and 1950.''
Maurice's collection dates largely from the Great Exhibition in 1851 to the Festival of Britain in 1951.
It also includes a coachman's belly warmer and shoe heater.

He also owns six self-pouring teapots, gas mask spectacles, a bar changer which kept the last payment visible to the publican to avoid punters claiming they were given the wrong change, and a wooden butter machine. Maurice, whose daughter Kim, 49, has severe learning difficulties, donates most of the money made by his collection to the Kith & Kids charity, which he set himself to raise money for children with similar problems.A spokeswoman for Bid TV said: "We had entries from all over the country but Maurice’s collection really stood out, not only because it was so unusual and extensive but also because it has helped raise more than £40,000 for children’s charities over the years - which is an enormous achievement in itself. 

"It is typical of Maurice that, as soon as we told him he had won, he asked for the £2,000 to be made out to his charity. He is not only an outstanding collector but a truly remarkable man."

Maurice's collection also includes:
* 1920's Sat Nav
This idea was brilliant, it was merely the timing that was wrong. The wrist-mounted, watch-like contraption enabled drivers to insert miniscule maps scribbled on tiny pieces of paper displaying directions to chosen locations.
* Clockwork burglar alarm  (1870)
This less than covert device required the user to wind it up, place it on the floor with the upright lever close to the bottom of the door and push the spike into the floor. It would set off a loud alarm if trodden on by an intruder.
* Pistol purse (late 19th Century)
The pistol, which contained a solitary bullet, was hidden in a secret compartment of an innocent-looking ladies' purse enabling the highwayman's robbery victim to pretend to hand over her cash, only to blow away her assailant with one carefully aimed shot.
* Toe socks (Circa 1915)
Pre-shrunk 'to sox' (corr) were designed to protect soldiers socks from wear and tear, cutting the military's hosiery bill by up to 80 per cent.
* Envelope sealer
Created by Reynolds of Chicago, this 'time-saving' invention required a crank of the leaver, which activates a roller that moistened the lip of the envelope, while a second roller sealed it.
* Light spectacles
These 1930s spectacles comprised two small battery-powered lights which were supposed to make reading in the dark easier, but posed a serious risk of electrocution in the rain.
* Eye massager 1920s
This disturbing device massages the eyeballs via small puffs of air when pressed to the face.
* Moustache protector
This came in three types, protector, spoon or cup, but all served the same purpose, keeping one's lip furniture free of milk, cream and soup etc.
* Piano player's finger stretcher 1910
This American invention was supposed to enable pianists to stretch their fingers to reach the required notes. At least one well known pianist never played again after injuring his fingers using it.
* Clockwork teasmaid 1902
An alarm clock triggered a switch, which struck a match against sandpaper to light the  stove under the kettle. After the water boiled, pressure lifted a switch which would tilt the kettle to pour the tea.
* Manetor head ache curer 1900
This is a device which when pressed against the forehead was supposed to cure headaches - it didn't.
* White's Electric Comb 1920
This promised to 'Grow Hair Where there Was Hair' but, again, was never proven to actually work.
* Asthma necklace 1900
A cure for the common ailment which involved wearing the necklace all day.