A website dedicated to collecting model trains calls itself the “World’s Greatest Hobby,” and it isn’t hard to imagine why. Collecting colorful toy train sets is an old and respected leisure occupation. From the time trains arrived as transportation, train sets have been created and collected.
Model train sets range from life-like to O-gauge railroads which are much more toy-like in appearance. Their layouts including tracks, bridges, and entire towns replete with miniature people are known as “hi-rail” within the train collecting culture.
Lionel, Ives, and American Flyer are vintage brands of distinguished value. Trains range from antique and vintage to modern sets with high tech audio and scenery. There are a number of national and international collecting clubs. The most famous story of a train collection’s worth is that of Anthony Bianco of England who began collecting Hornby Dublo trains in the 1970′s. Christie’s values his collection in the hundreds of thousands with a pre-war electric set sold for $4,000.
Like any collectible, condition, brand, and demand play a role in market value. A great deal of time and energy can go into developing a model train set. Collecting valued pieces can be a lifetime of detective work.