Vintage Electric Toy Trains – The Perfect Year Round CollectibleBy Admin
Quick – what was the first consumer product manufactured at the end of World War II?
The answer? Electric toy trains, which began to appear on store shelves just in time for the first postwar Christmas. Many were manufactured by the Lionel Company of Irvington, New Jersey, which would become world famous for its electric train sets, chemistry sets and slot car sets.
Pick up an issue of any magazine from this period and it will be filled with ads for electric train sets from Lionel, the Marx Company and the A.C. Gilbert Company. Marx sets were tin litho and very colourful, but were at the lower end in quality and variety. Many collectors started by purchasing Marx sets.
With advancements that had been made during the war in technology, Lionel and A.C. Gilbert began to put out new types of locomotives with real smoke and accessories like cattle and milk cars. In 1957, The Lionel Company even manufactured a pink train set for girls. The set did not sell very well but will fetch several thousand dollars today.
Related for collectors are the catalogues that were printed each year. Those from the 1930’s-60’s had beautiful paintings of trains, and scenes of the trains passing through the Rocky Mountains, cities, and passengers getting on and off the train. Older catalogues sell in the range of several hundred dollars.
Sit back and enjoy the ride with expert columnist and vintage electric train toy collector Jim Trautman, who has been featured on CBC TV programs on the history of sports cards, games, and other collectibles, and is currently working on a new book on the history of the early Planes.