Many people think any old Lionel is worth its weight in gold

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Many people think any old Lionel is worth its weight in gold
Posted by V8Vega on Sunday, April 18, 2010 11:39 PM

I just hate it when someone says I have some old Lionel trains would you like to take a look at them? Obviously everyone hopes for a desirable set or engine but what do you say when its a beat up lowest price pieces and there friends of yours?

Dennis  San Fernando Valley CA.  Joined August 2009

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Posted by Ole Timer on Monday, April 19, 2010 3:03 AM

Tell them the truth .....  Cowboy

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, April 19, 2010 5:35 AM

Tell them what they want to hear.  They are you friends, keep it that way.

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Posted by sir james I on Monday, April 19, 2010 8:06 AM

I just tell the truth, This is what you've got, this is what it might sell for. Love the one heard many times it has 999 on it. Me i like Marx but its not Lionel.

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Posted by arkady on Monday, April 19, 2010 10:46 AM
V8Vega

I just hate it when someone says I have some old Lionel trains would you like to take a look at them? Obviously everyone hopes for a desirable set or engine but what do you say when its a beat up lowest price pieces and there friends of yours?

As others have said, tell them the truth. What kind of friend would be upset by that?

On the other side of the coin, what drives me crazy is when people see some of my collection and then stand there, mouths agape, saying "How much is it worth? As if anything that says "Lionel" on it must be worth more than a wheelbarrow full of gold bars.

My answer -- truthful -- is always "I have no idea, and it doesn't really matter, since I'm not going to sell them anyway." I don't think they actually believe me, though. They seem to think I'm being smug as I sit on a treasure trove of priceless collectibles.

The truth is always the best course. They might or might not believe you, but when you tell the truth, you've done your part.

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Posted by phillyreading on Monday, April 19, 2010 10:50 AM

You may need to get ahold of Greenberg's Pocket price guide for the current year and show your freind the real price or value of an item.

I have been to an antigue store in Jupiter FL and they want an outragous price for anything with Lionel on it. One price was for a hopper car that Greenberg's put it at $30.00 and the antigue store was asking $110.00 for it. The saleperson said that's what the person who put it on consignment wants, I told her he would be lucky to get a third of that price and left.

On the other side of the coin, I have been to train shows where people try to talk me down to almost $1.00 for anything with Lionel on it. I have seen where people use the Greenberg's price guides against you saying that they can get something cheaper elsewhere and my reply is "Do it!"

Lee F.

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Posted by brianel027 on Monday, April 19, 2010 12:36 PM

Vega, it's been this way for a couple of decades now. Plenty of old Lionel trains are for sale and being bought constantly. But molded color SP cabooses, blue NYC gondolas or short black Lionel Lines gondolas don't make news.

Big ticket items and auctions of rare pieces do though. So people see in the news that Lionel trains sold for record price and think that applies to everything without considering specific circumstances of what commanded those record prices.

Even when you get on to any of the train forums, what's being talked about for the most part? Starter set locos? K-Line S-2 switchers? How great Lionel MPC 2-4-0 steamers really are? Conventional control is the way to go?

NO. What gets all the attention are the new (and also EXPENSIVE) items. Legacy equipped locomotives... not cheap. Accurate scale rolling stock... not cheap. People pick up the new Lionel catalogs and see many locomotives listing for well over $1,000 and rolling stock for nearly $100 a pop and it's understandable how they come to their simple conclusions.

Plus in these hard economic times, when folks are out of work or getting desperate, they'll look around the attic and garage for anything they can sell to make some money. They find those old stashed away trains, remember the news bit about record prices paid for Lionel trains, and the next move is obvious.

About 8 years ago there were layoffs in the thousands in my area. Unemployement at that time was 6 months and NO extensions, even though this area was in a crisis situation. I remember at the time seeing an ad in the paper for used Beatle vinyl albums at $100.00 each. Hmmmm.

It's funny how when you are desperate and need basics like food, how little our "prized" posessions are really worth. As with any collectible, it's really only worth the amount of money someone is willing to hand you for the items.

brianel, Agent 027

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Posted by Ole Timer on Monday, April 19, 2010 3:03 PM

 I've NEVER lost any friends telling them the truth about what something is worth ... if you lie and tell them what they want to hear as one poster said .... they'll find out you lied or don't know anything about the articles and think you're an  idiot ... Whistling

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Posted by fredswain on Monday, April 19, 2010 3:46 PM

I've had people ask me what their old Lionel was worth. Not because they thought they had gold on their hands but rather because they didn't know if it was worth anything. Most of the time it is something cheap and fairly low in value but every once in a while you'll find someone out there who has something quite nice and worth a bit to someone. My friend Lane asked me to take a look at "his grandfather's steam engine" to see what it was worth. It was an old Erector Model 6 kit that as it turns out is quite valuable and can approach a couple thousand dollars depending on condition. He was shocked to say the least. He didn't go out and pawn it or sell it though. To him the monetary value was a curiosity. The fact that it was his grandfather's was where the value is.

Don't automatically assume someone asking how much their old Lionel is worth is thinking they have money on their hands. Some may. Others may just be curious.

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Posted by phillyreading on Monday, April 19, 2010 3:57 PM

I had a guy down the street from me think he had some valuable Lionel stuff, but it was mainly FMC era stuff and some was beat up and missing parts. A couple days later his freind told he can get more money selling it on ebay, so I lost out, but it wasn't of any great value or even rare.

I figured let him sell it on ebay, he will have to pay shipping and posting fees.

Lee F.

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Posted by POTRZBE on Monday, April 19, 2010 4:59 PM

 My little 2026 set my dad gave me in 1948 is beyond price.  My grandson gets it soon.  Some things are beyond price.  My complete run of MAD, however...

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Posted by servoguy on Monday, April 19, 2010 5:43 PM
Lee, IMHO, anything that isn't pretty good won't sell on ebay because the shipping charges are too high. The cheap cars are only worht $3-5, and that is usually what the shipping is. if they are missing parts, forget it. $1 each. What everyone is saying about people believing that anything Lionel is a priceless collectors piece is true. I see them on Craig's List all the time. So I ignore them until reality sets it. I believe that most stuff is down in price from the peak of a few years ago, and that anything that a person buys now should be a good bargain. I am sure Greenberg's prices are way high because prices are down about 50% in the last 2 years. Anyway, I only buy stuff when it is a real bargain, and I don't see bargains on ebay. Bruce Baker
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Posted by vsmith on Monday, April 19, 2010 6:06 PM

Tell 'em the truth, then tell 'em to confirm it by tracking similar auction items on Ebay (forget the way abused and way overpriced "buy it now" listings). I get alot of my rough values for my things based on what other stuff I've tracked on ebay. At least they'll know what they can expect +/- value-wise.

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by Taranwanderer on Monday, April 19, 2010 6:17 PM
I'd have to agree on the truth as your best option. What's probably in the best interest of your friendship is to get the latest version of the Greenberg price book, show them the averages, and also go on eBay and see what the same item is going for (and X2 on ignoring the "Buy It Now" auctions, I guess some people don't understand what an "auction' is supposed to be!) Maybe they'll have something valuable, maybe not, but your friendship will be intact!
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Posted by Civil War on Monday, April 19, 2010 6:46 PM

V8Vega

I just hate it when someone says I have some old Lionel trains would you like to take a look at them? Obviously everyone hopes for a desirable set or engine but what do you say when its a beat up lowest price pieces and there friends of yours?

 

You didn't say whether they were your friends.  If it was one of my friends I would tell them nicely that well used and warn trains don't bring much in the market. Collectors want examples in excellent shape. I would suggest that if they want to sell them I would help them list them on ebay. That is a fairly reliable way to get what they are worth since so many people are following Lionel trains on ebay and if they are accurately and fairly listed along with a couple of good clear pictures they will likely get a fair bid on them.

If they are not friends, I just tell them the truth. That probably won't satisfy them but so what, the truth is always the best policy. I run a Civil War museum store in Virginia. I get people in off the street all the time who think they have a treasure that is worth thousands. Most time it isn't worth my time. To them I say that for $45.00 per hour, I will do a full appraisal. That usually gets me off the hook. These are the same people who try to get a free diagnosis from a doctor the meet at a party. The smart doctor tells them to call his office for an appointment. I am an expert with Civil War artifacts and I have 45 years experience. I don't give it away for free unless it is a friend. I don't know squat about trains. I just like playing with my postwar trains and am struggling to build a moderte layout. I am learning a lot from members of this forum and from reading back issues of CTT. (I have most of them now). That said, I will never be an expert at trains. They are just fun for me. Civil War artifacts are my passion and my business. I try to keep both seperated and in perspective.

Terry Thomann Fredericksburg, Virginia That is me on the left. My brother got the train TCA 09-64381

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Posted by 11th Street on Monday, April 19, 2010 7:47 PM

Calmly smile & change the subject (because they are your friends). Graciously decline if they offer to sell them to you, regardless of price.

If not your friends: offer them a couple hundred shares of Enron stock. That too was worth something awhile back.

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Posted by wyomingscout on Monday, April 19, 2010 8:08 PM

POTRZBE
My little 2026 set my dad gave me in 1948 is beyond price.  My grandson gets it soon.  Some things are beyond price.

 

Ditto for my Scout from 1950.  It's probably got a 'sale' price, but I don't know what it is yet.  And, if I did put a price on it, no one would pay it.

So, my grandson will get it for free someday, too.

wyomingscout

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Posted by Buckeye Riveter on Monday, April 19, 2010 8:24 PM

I just looked at a box of trains for a friend.  Mostly low end stuff, until I pulled our a Lionel Marine Corps flat car with a Duck.  It looks like it is worth a few bucks.  I had never seen one before and you don't find tham on Ebay everyday either.

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Posted by initagain on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 4:00 PM

I notice most of the replies in this thread make reference to low-end Lionel and to Ebay.  Take a look, sometime, at the results from some of the east-coast auction houses' sales.  You will be knocked over by the prices, even with the so-called economic downturn.   There aren't any one-dollar or five-dollar sales there!  Some of the items you would think are very common (and therefore should be cheap) are commanding ridiculous prices.  One thing that comes to mind (and I won't mention the auction house) is a red 394 rotary beacon.  It sold for $210.00, because it was purported to be very rare, in that it had an ADHESIVE number label, instead of the usual METAL label with tabs.  I have one of these, and I have seen several on ebay, so I don't think they are THAT rare.  Another item was a 6464-300 Rutland boxcar, usually fairly common except for the split-door and solid-shield versions.  It was because the graphics and paint were applied to a shell that was royal blue before.  It went for $3800.00.  I think the point here is don't overlook what appear to be very common items.  There are plenty of buyers out there who will pay big bucks for anything Lionel that appears to be different. 

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Posted by Timboy on Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:17 PM

 

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Posted by TRAINCAT on Saturday, April 24, 2010 8:21 AM

I see over priced post war trains at every swap meet and it gets laughable. Then as was said, you see people paying hidious prices for box cars in auction houses. The Train Station at Mountain Lakes always has post war engines for sale at rediculous prices. I truly wonder if they sell at those prices. I would not pay those prices if it were the last one on earth.

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Posted by traindaddy1 on Saturday, April 24, 2010 10:46 AM

Just a comment about "E-Bay".   I use this venue often and have purchased some nice items at reasonable prices.  BUT, like everything else, you have to do some 'homework'.*

Recently, there was a Lionel boxcar listed on a "Buy-It-Now" or "Best Offer" listing for $60.00 plus the S & H.   I made an offer and got it for $25.00 (including the S & H)

  * I checked the comparables (@$40.) and my budget.  A check of  the seller's "Other Items For Sale" showed a multitude of things but nothing else train-related.  The 30 day listing had 1 day left.

What is this Postwar item worth?  I really don't know. However,  the "Thrill Of The Hunt" and the running of the car, to me, is priceless.   

 

 

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Posted by Timboy on Saturday, April 24, 2010 12:06 PM

 

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Posted by Civil War on Sunday, April 25, 2010 9:33 AM

Timboy
There are very legitimate reasons to pay "too much" for toy train items,

 

 

You are right on the money Timboy! Any of you who know me, know I don't know squat about train stuff, but I do know Civil War artifacts. There is a saying in the CW collector world "I didn't pay too much for an artifact, I just bought it too soon". Example: I bought a Model 1863 Sharps Carbine in 1961 and paid $50.00 or it. That was an outrageous price then. At least double what it should have been priced at. In Today it is easily worth $2000.00. I don't know what the return on investment would be. If there are any CPA types out there I would love to know. Point being. If you see something you like, buy it. Not at any price, but if you are planning on holding on to it for a long time it's value will catch up to the price you paid. What is more important is what is it worth for you to have it now or pass and hope you find another at a lower price in the future. There are lots of factors to weigh in making a decision to pay a high price for something and you must use your experience and common sense in making the decision. Happy hunting.

 

Terry Thomann Fredericksburg, Virginia That is me on the left. My brother got the train TCA 09-64381

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Posted by Timboy on Sunday, April 25, 2010 10:43 AM

 

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Posted by vsmith on Monday, April 26, 2010 10:19 AM

traindaddy1

Just a comment about "E-Bay".   I use this venue often and have purchased some nice items at reasonable prices.  BUT, like everything else, you have to do some 'homework'.*

Recently, there was a Lionel boxcar listed on a "Buy-It-Now" or "Best Offer" listing for $60.00 plus the S & H.   I made an offer and got it for $25.00 (including the S & H)

  * I checked the comparables (@$40.) and my budget.  A check of  the seller's "Other Items For Sale" showed a multitude of things but nothing else train-related.  The 30 day listing had 1 day left.

What is this Postwar item worth?  I really don't know. However,  the "Thrill Of The Hunt" and the running of the car, to me, is priceless.   

Am I the only one noticing that Ebay "Buy it Now" items seams to be consistantly priced 20-30% OVER online hobby shop retail prices???

Also in my scale anyways, that 3/4 of the listings are "Buy it Now" items and that legitmate "auctions" seams to be slowely dissappearing from Ebay pushed out by the online "stores" ???

Out of 12000+/- recent listings only 3000+/- were actual "auctions"

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by tjsprague on Monday, April 26, 2010 1:16 PM

 Yes, I've been through it too. Tried the honesty route and was treated rudely.

In this case it was may wife's friend's husband, so not really someone that I'll miss. My wife was hosting a party for her co-workers and she said that Sue's husband would bring some trains because she told him about the shelves filled with old Lionels in my study. Well, he didn't bring the trains, just a few out-of-focus photos. It was a 736 freight set, a couple boxes, but no set box. Looked to be in decent shape, but then again-out-of-focus. Told him I may be interested in the Loco and tender, and if all was in order I'd estimate value at $200. The guy was actually insulted and insinuated I was looking to profit from his lack of expertise. He really thought he had something worth thousands! This of course was followed by the usual responses

-I saw one just like it on ebay sell for $2000
   (probably saw a '38 700E and couldn't tell the difference)

-A guy at a hobby shop said it was worth a lot of money because it was an original "set"
  (he was probably trying to interest him in an expensive tune-up)

-You know, they don't make Lionels anymore
  (um, OK)

I've had many others, some folks upon hearing that their heirloom is worthless take it more realistically and go on to talk trains and childhood memories, others like my party guest, can't let it go.

 

Tim

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Posted by Civil War on Monday, April 26, 2010 3:45 PM

tjsprague
The guy was actually insulted and insinuated I was looking to profit from his lack of expertise. He really thought he had something worth thousands! This of course was followed by the usual responses

 

 No good deed goes unpunished.

 

Terry Thomann Fredericksburg, Virginia That is me on the left. My brother got the train TCA 09-64381

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Posted by RockIsland52 on Monday, April 26, 2010 3:46 PM

If we have company over the holidays and uninformed folks (who have trains stashed) take an interest in the trains running around the tree, their first impression is that the trains look "like new" (they don't) and run like it as well (they do).  Meanwhile I'm looking at the same item of mine and have every scratch and paint rub indelibly imprinted on my brain.  When I try to explain to them that on a scale of C1 to C10 an engine of mine may only rate a C6 they don't believe me.  They think I am being modest.  Nope, truthful.    

The best recommendation in my mind is to be honest and humble. A train guide like Greenburg's or the completed listings on the Bay are a starting point.  But as one said, collectors want the perfection and those who have been searching for quite a while for a particular item will bid an item up over its value to most.  And for no apparent reason (to me) other than they want it.  But usually the latter is an exception. 

I've seen postwar baby Hudsons and Alcos go for prices I can't believe (too high) for their photo condition.  And around the same time/date a far better piece go for far less.  And I ask myself what drove the same buyer to pick out the poorer piece out of the listings and pay so much more for it than one auctioned at the same time for so much less in better condition.

A friend of mine has just one postwar steamer and was shocked at how common it was and how a decent number were listed on Ebay.  He was unpleasantly shocked when I showed him that as nice as his piece is, it shows the playtime.  Hence the price plummets.  "Yes, but it is 60 years old."  "So are the ones you are looking at in the marketplace."

None of this matters to me because my pieces are nostalgic and have far more value to me than the auction price.

Jack

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