Born in London in 1957, the only son of an eminent physicist and engineer, Jeffrey Levy always had a passion for commercially made old toys, and was one of the few people who could see their future artistic and collectable appeal at the time. As early as the 1960’s, Jeffrey, in his youth, had begun a quest to garner knowledge and understanding of toys from the past, and it was as an adolescent teenager that formed the embryonic stage of his toy collecting passion.
1980's - Los Angeles, London
It was in 1980, he opened a collector’s toy shop specializing in the purchase and sale of quality antique and collectable toys on the prestigious South Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and two years later in London. Jeffrey soon became the one of leading dealers in early die-cast and tinplate toys, and shortly after, in vintage trains. Whilst developing an international clientele, he was to foresee the market rise of quality antique toys in the 1980’s which often attracted six figure $ prices, and which today, is the norm. Key to the growth in the market which Jeffrey foresaw was his purchase of the world famous Peter Ottenheimer Collection from Switzerland. At the time it was probably the finest tinplate toy collection ever to have come onto the market with a multi-million pounds price to match. During these early years of the business, he accumulated the finest collection and selection of period diecast toys on the planet, all of which had to be in perfect condition and contained with their original boxes. Indeed, Jeffrey's London gallery was the premier "must go" place for international diecast collectors at the time.
1989 - New York
1989 was to see the opening of his most prestigious antique toy gallery in New York. Right in the centre of the "museum mile" on Madison Avenue, the three floors displayed some of the finest collections of antique toys ever to come onto the market. The centrepiece was undoubtedly the then recently acquired "Charles" Fire Hose Reel Wagon by George Brown of Connecticut, which was made only for one month in 1870. In fact this large and unique piece featured in the 1992 edition of the Guinness Book of Records recorded as the world's most expensive toy a with a price tag of $1 Million. It is this very toy which featured in a lavishly illustrated 269 page book Jeffrey published in 1989 - “The World of Antique Toys” - An accumulation of what was then fifteen years of extensive research on the subject – A mighty tome, which soon became a much sought after title after a one-off limited edition print run of just 5000 copies, including several foreign language editions.
1998 - Valencia
After moving to Spain in 1998, Jeffrey opened a Spanish-themed antique toy gallery in Valencia, “Galeria Navarro”, maintaining his worldwide links and contacts accumulated during the three preceding decades of trading in the finest antique and collectable toys. Galeria Navarro's educational and informative website continues online today in 5 languages – English, German, Spanish, Chinese & Hebrew, all of which reflects the truly international nature and appeal of the business - A definitive and sure sign of the truly global nature and reach of toy collecting. During the fifteen years of the gallery's physical operation in Valencia, Jeffrey was keen to share his immense knowledge on the subject and further expand the market interest by educating and bringing to people's attention the aesthetic and intrinsic beauty of toy collecting and all its facets. Prestige exhibitions were organized under Jeffrey's supervision at top social venues such as the Monte Picayo Casino together with an exhibition at the Crown Jewelers to the Spanish Monarchy - It was at the latter, that the gallery's finest antique toys were on display alongside the most exquisite, rare and priceless jewels ever seen in public.
2014 - Tel Aviv
Today, “The Antique Toy Gallery” in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel, established in 2014 with its vast array of quality antique toys, are all housed within three individually themed and beautifully designed spaces. The collection consists of some of the finest tinplate toys and trains on the planet, together with what is probably the largest selection of quality diecast toys for sale. We are also proud to boast the most complete and concise library on the subject, with dozens of informative and scarce books available. This, together with over forty years in the business has further ensconced our position in the world of antique toys. Jeffrey's existing and new Middle-Eastern and Asian clientele have begun to appreciate the art, beauty and history of this subject, and who are now building world-class collections in their own right. In addition, Jeffrey gives regular lectures on the Middle Eastern museum circuit, delving into the origins and very essence of what toys were, are and will be, and how they have shaped industrial and post-industrial revolution society.