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Arguably the best-known name in the model railroad industry, iconic model train company Lionel, LLC has manufactured model trains and model railroading accessories since Lionel trains specialize in O gauge model railroad products, which include realistic models of engines, freight cars, passenger cars, cabooses, buildings, and other Lionel train parts. The train caught on and soon Lionel was manufacturing model electric trains for consumers. ByLionel was well established as an electric model railroad manufacturer.
At auction, Lionel train sets, pieces, and accessories can sell for a few hundred dollars or for a few thousand dollars, depending on the rarity and condition of the piece. Lionel collectors tend to have a lifelong passion for model railroading. While collectors do note some decline in the popularity of the hobby due to the rise in electronics and video games and the general cost of model railroadingcollecting remains active online and new interest in model trains has emerged through model railroad Christmas products that draw on the power of nostalgia.
Once the originality has been compromised, prices take a steep turn downward from their original counterparts. Pricing is always subjective among buyers and sellers. The look, style, Pictures of lionel trains quality of Lionel model trains are linked to different phases of the Lionel Corporation and the business conditions that the company experienced, so collectors should pay particular attention to the date the Lionel model trains were manufactured.
Below, explore are prime examples of trains and accessories sold from the Invaluable price archive, organized into four Pictures of lionel trains eras of Lionel production. Lionel developed and perfected its model des and layouts during the Pre-War Era — The first Lionel electric trains were powered by wet-cell batteries, which were, of course, dangerous.
For safety reasons, the batteries were soon replaced by a volt transformer. Lionel developed many different model engines and rail cars, as well as accessories, to allow consumers to set up their trains into life-like layouts. Lionel model trains experienced wide popularity throughout the s, but business declined sharply during the Great Depression.
Because people could not afford expensive model trains, the smaller Lionel O gauge trains became more popular and Lionel Standard gauge was discontinued in Pre-war Lionel trains can sell anywhere from twenty dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the rarity of the piece and its condition among other factors.
Recent auction indicate that pre-war Lionel trains generally sell for a few hundred dollars per lot, with exceptional examples selling for a few thousand dollars. During World War II, toy manufacturers placed their production on hold so they could dedicate their resources to helping the war effort.
Lionel trains were no exception, and the company ceased model railroad production to manufacture compasses for the U. In the Post-War EraLionel trains introduced magnetic knuckle couplers and remote uncoupling. In they also developed diesel engines, which were modeled after real-life trains. Lionel focused on making their model railro look more realistic. Through this effort, a large assortment of engines, cars, and accessories in a variety of colors and des were made available to consumers.
The popularity of Lionel train sets peaked in the mids, and business declined as television became popular. Joshua Lionel Cowen and his son, Lawrence Cowen, sold their interest in the company in to their relative, Roy Cohen. The company fell into decline after the Cowens left, and the organization filed for bankruptcy in Rights to Lionel electric trains were sold to General Mills, an American manufacturer of consumer goods, Pictures of lionel trains Image 2: Lionel No.
Image 3: Post War Lionel No. Fundimensions built up the Lionel product line to post-war levels during the s, but in order to cut costs they used cheap manufacturing techniques, including plastic trucks and couplers. Lionel model trains from this era are considered less desirable, but a few items from this era are popular, especially the Mickey Mouse Express piece model railroad set from In the mids General Mills attempted to move production of the Lionel line to Mexico.
This move ultimately failed, and production was moved back to the United States. Inshortly after the failed move, General Mills sold rights to the Lionel brand to Richard Kughna Detroit real estate developer and model railroading enthusiast. Kughn established Lionel Trains Inc. Production was moved to China and Korea, but the company focused on continuing to improve the quality of Lionel products. As technology advanced, Lionel trains continued to incorporate new and improved technologies, including its Pictures of lionel trains remote control system, LionChief.
InLionel collaborated with Warner Bros. In recent years, based on feedback from collectors, Lionel has moved production of some limited edition lines back to the United States. Its corporate headquarters are now located in Concord, North Carolina. Image 1: Contemporary Lionel Brass No. Looking for more? Explore Lionel trains Pictures of lionel trains Invaluable now historical records of Lionel trains sold at auction from the archives. Get the latest stories, price guides and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
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History of Lionel Trains