Category Archives: Lionel

Lionel set 1590 from 1958…

One of the great bugaboos of the model train hobby is the mindset that I run into at shows or just at social gatherings.  John (or Jane) Q. Public has a train set that’s “been in the family for a long time” and they want to know what it’s worth.  From the look in their eyes and the tone in their voice, they obviously have the one exceptionally rare antique set worth enough to cover their mortgage and send one or two of the kidlets to Harvard, so would I be a dear and please confirm this delusion?.

Nothing could be further from the truth in this hobby.  Old DOES NOT mean valuable, whether it sports a Lionel tag or TYCO.  What the Lionel debacle did in the 80s was pull out from attics and closets across this fruited plain, box after box of grandpa’s old trains, showing that what was once  considered “Rare” was actually just one of many hundreds that were buried, just like any other toy out there, waiting only for a good reason to be pulled out into the light.  5000 greenbacks for an original #300 Hell Gate Bridge will do that to anything out there, not just Lionel.

My 1590 set comes from a good friend who is settling his brother-in-law’s estate.  Fortunately for me, he understands that only special pieces get special prices.  He found this mixed in the estate with a bunch of track, most of which had fallen victim to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.  It is in cosmetically good condition and has all four cars, the blue gon just didn’t make the cut on the too short shelf space.  The irony is that the value in the set is not in the whole, but in fact, one part…the “Range Patrol” truck that would have sat on the yellow flat car.  An orange or yellow truck can get double what the set complete can get.  Who knew…sigh…

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Original 1958 catalog listing…

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NOTE:  Settling this estate has been a hoot for my friend and his family.  With no will, the state and a reprobate offspring have ravaged the estate and my friend’s life over the last 2 years.  Being married to next of kin just gives the state a warm body to sink their fangs and claws into.  They will get their pound of flesh, and it will be yesterday…

If you don’t have a will, you are a fool and richly deserve every curse called down upon your corpse by the family you left behind.  Get a will…now.