Into antique trains? You aren’t alone. There are people all over the world who are into collecting, maintaining, and watching these little Lionel trains spin around their tracks. Some of these little trains can fetch huge prices at auction, but there are other places you may be able to come across them… estate sales!
Regardless of your gauge of choice, read on to find out a bit about the history of train collecting and why estate sales are such good places to find them.
The history of model train set collecting
Without getting TOO deep into it, collecting of model trains dates back to about 1910. During World War 1, the importation of German collectible trains ceased and provided the opportunity for companies like Lionel, Ives, American Flyer, and Dorfan to take the stage. From there, there was no looking back. American model train manufacturing and collecting were in full swing.
After World War 2, when automobiles were readily available to the consumer, Lionel fought to keep model trains relevant in the new age. Many of these collections tanked, with most of the unsold inventory being destroyed. Collectors LOVE hard to find, partially destroyed collections. It makes the pieces rarer.
In today’s day and age, most of the model trains available to the public come in the form of LEGO to make them more attractive to younger collectors. LEGO is collectible in its own right but is a topic for another post.
Why are estate sales such great places to find model trains?
Model train collecting is still a very popular hobby that has lasted throughout the ages. As with any hobby collectible that has been around for a long time, older members are getting to the end of their lives. Model train collecting has been around since the 1880s.
When great collectors pass away, their kids often sell the collections to good homes who will keep them and proudly put them on display. It’s for this reason that estate sales tend to be a great place for finding collectible Lionel trains and all of the others. Simple as that…
Looking to collect model trains? Check out our current sales.
If you are interested in snagging some model trains of your own, you should check out our happening now page. We always post the hottest finds at our upcoming sales in the Atlanta area!