Collector's Corner: Greenberg Toy Train Price Guides
By Charles Conley
The 2003 Greenberg Pocket Price Guides are available now from Kalmbach Publications. There are a few surprises. Some things have gone up in value. The postwar Lionel 2360 GG-1 electric locomotive, tuscan color, excellent condition, with five gold stripes is now valued at $1,820. Last year the same engine was listed at $1,250. Some items have fallen in value. The prewar Lionel 700E Scale Hudson locomotive, in excellent condition, is now listed at $2,550; last year the same engine showed a value of $3,500.
On balance prices seem to have declined just slightly, but in most cases high quality pre World War II Lionel trains, particularly standard gauge items, are bringing higher prices than they did a year ago.
I did a small survey of 12 eBay Lionel locomotive auctions at the end of November. I watched four prewar, four postwar, and four post-1970 auctions to see how they turned out and how the selling prices compared to the Greenberg values. All but three of the auctions resulted in a sale. Of the three that did not sell, two had starting prices at or near the Greenberg value; the third had a reserve price, not met, that was more than 50% of the Greenberg value.
Of the nine that sold, the average selling price was 85% of what I estimated as the Greenberg value, based on apparent condition of the locomotives. The two auctions that brought the highest final bids both had opening bids of $9.99 with no reserve. One of these was a Lionel 390E prewar, standard gauge, Blue Comet engine in good condition, which sold with a final bid of $798.94. The other was a 1990 replica of the prewar Hudson 700E, (mint with box and display case) which sold with a final bid of $893.99.
These were both wonderful, collectible trains, and I would not have had the courage to put them on eBay with such a low starting bid and no reserve. But the sellers did, and they were rewarded with final bids that seem reasonable. The third highest selling price was for a Lionel 8100 Norfolk & Western locomotive, mint in box, which had an initial bid of $10.00, met the reserve, and sold with a final bid of $619.69. The book value of that was $760. My conclusion: toy trains on eBay are alive and well!
The 2003 Greenberg Pocket Price Guides are available for Lionel (all gauges), American Flyer (S Gauge), Marx, M.T.H., and possibly others. They can be ordered by telephone, (800) 533-6644, on the Internet at http://www.kalmbach.com, or purchased at train shops and some bookstores. The Lionel price guide sells for $14.95 plus S&H when ordered by mail.
About the author:
Chuck Conley, a member of the Train Collectors Association, is Digital Equipment early retiree. He has had an interest in Lionel trains since he got his first set at the age of 10. Put on the "back burner" for many years, his hobby was rekindled about ten years ago when he and his wife Esther began attending auctions in the MetroWest Boston area and sometimes found very desirable trains. Although he admits that some of the new trains are impressive, he still favors the postwar variety, including his first Lionel. Chuck and Esther live in Framingham, Massachusetts, and often work together putting things on eBay (not just trains). Their eBay ID is "nepacer". Feel free to write him at nepacer @ aol.com.
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