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Musings on brass and estate auctions

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Musings on brass and estate auctions
Posted by mononguy63 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 6:47 AM

I attended an estate auction yesterday in which an individual's collection of locomotives was sold off. The collection featured a couple dozen brass locomotives. I've never dealt with brass - I must admit that several of the locos for sale were indeed stunningly beautiful. But my jaw dropped at the prices these engines were fetching. Hundreds of dollars apiece. As I recall, the high bid for one engine was around $800, and stuff was basically going at fire sale prices (more on that in a moment). With each locomotive sold, I'd think to myself, "I could buy five of the engines I run on my layout for that one. I could buy six for that one..." The amount of money this individual had sunk into his brass collection was utterly staggering.

After all the brass had sold, they moved on to the boxes stacked with "junk" locomotives. In most auctions I've attended, the junk engines are Tycos and the like. In this case, the "junk" engines were mostly Kato, Tenshodo, and Spectrum. Most of them were too modern for my layout, though I did pick up a Kato F-unit for $7.50. Tested it on my layout last night and it runs like a Swiss watch. What a steal.

So my question is directed mostly at you brass collectors out there. Is this typical for a brass collection? Do a lot of people really invest that heavily into their motive roster?

"I am lapidary but not eristic when I use big words." - William F. Buckley

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Posted by tbdanny on Thursday, May 6, 2010 6:58 AM
I'm a brass runner - my roster consists of 2 West Side models HOn3 brass locos, which were around $300 apiece.  But that's the only real price range in HOn3 - $300 brass or $300 plastic RTR.  However, I did adjust my operational schema slightly so that I wouldn't need to purchase any more locos for the foreseeable future.  So as far as I'm concerned, no, I don't spend that much money on my brass locos.

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Posted by CNJ831 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:10 AM

One must appreciate that there are quite a number of individuals out there that are strictly "brass collectors" and that there is usually little or no comparison between most of the collectors and those guys who are actually running brass models. Admittedly, there are some few that bridge the gap. Let me say from experience that even really small-time brass collectors with only a score, or fewer, locomotives can have collections valued at well over $25,000. For the big boys, it can run to several 100k. Since there is very little interaction between the real brass collectors and the rest of us, model railroaders have never fully appreciate that market's way of thinking.

Incidentally, the larger current production HO brass steamers can command $2,000 to $3,000 per, as can some of the much early "crowns". Some serious O scale models run several times that. It's a totally different hobby from model railroading and its participants are generally much wealthier than the rest of us.

As to the concept that you could have purchased 3, 4, or even 5 of the better modern plastic locos for the price that one of the brass models sold for, the difference is that the quality and detail on the brass model is likely a factor of that many times better than on the layout-quality plastic model. I can tell you straight away, those who claim that today's plastic steamers rival brass simply has never owned a really quality brass model.

Incidentally, if you want to really see staggering prices, look for brass ship, automobile and aircraft models. Wink

CNJ831 

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Posted by Howard Zane on Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:23 AM

Being involved with brass retailing for almost two decades, I can shed some light on this one. Actually depending on the model, $800 is not really that much, and could have been a bargain. The extreme of this brass at auction bit would have been March of 1997 at the Southeby's auction in NYC. Many pieces sold there for an an average price near $10,000 with the highest being a KCS 2-10-4 improted by PFM in 1963 fetching $28,000. After NYC sales tax and house premium, the buyer paid over $34,000.

Also that date was the heyday of brass models. The decline can be traced to several reasons....but mainly due to brass owners and collectors just retiring, and  to smaller quarters. Newbies into the field just did not have the love or knowledge of steam locos which were and are overwhelmingly what is modeled.

Brass models are literaly a hobby within a hobby. They are in every sense of the word, hand crafted fine art which is indeed collectible. Unfortunately brass collecting was never presented to the general public and remained within the confines of a very parsimonius community.

Some brass folks actually play with these as do I. A serious modeler today will opt for brass if there is not a plastic or die cast model of the prototype he is seeking. I was once a serious Western Maryland nut, but the only non- brass models were a Bachmann I-1 2-10-0 and a 2-8-0 masquerading as an H-?, but obviously coming from Illinois Central heritage. In brass I found almost everying the WM had in steam and diesel except for a few classes of articulated and sub-classes of steam and diesels.

The myth about brass not running as well as today's plastic and die-cast models is partly true, but when once set up (sort of like buying a new stringed instrument) it will last forever....plastic??? I once ran a PFM/United PRR K-4 on my hobby shop layout 8 hours per day for almost two years. The store gave out before the loco, and I still have it today sans plating on tires. Folks, this was over 1000  hours of trouble free operation.

Brass as an investment??? NO!!!!! True, some models have appreciated, but there is no way other than Ebay to "cash in". Many customers over the years have asked this very question.  My answer was always the same....buy it because you like it and want to want to own somthing hand made and of great quality.

There is much more. You may want to log onto www.brasstrains.com  Dan Glasure has written a very informative book on brass models called.....simply, The Brass Book. This is not his guide, which is also quite informative and invaluable to anyone involved with brass models.

 HZ

Howard Zane
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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:33 AM

Brass represents the intersection of collectors (which implies rarity), a desire for quality and accuracy,  luxury goods, and maybe even some snob appeal.  Automobiles have some of the same elements.  So do high end writing pens -- they write no better but that is profoundly not the point.  So you have the same basic item -- a model of a locomotive -- that is desired by three different audiences: people who want a locomotive to pull their model train cars, people who want a beautiful item to grace their shelves, and people who want a commodity that will appreciate in value purely as an investment (I just read Howard Zane's posting and don't disagree -- it may not be a good investment but some people think it is, and that is all it takes to bump up the bidding).  Not surprisingly, the latter two groups compete among themselves and pretty much freeze out the first guy, the guy who just wants the wheels to turn.  That guy will always be outbid by the others.

In some ways used brass prices seem to violate the laws of supply and demand.  Brass steam locomotives were a common (and at one time were even regarded as cheap!) item from the early 1950s right up to the 1990s (shifting from Japanese to mostly Korean origin in the process).  By common item I mean, hobby shops stocked them without knowing in advance that any particular customer would purchase them, and some locomotives such as the Santa Fe 2-8-0 that PFM offered were kept in the catalog for decades, not special ordered or limited run.  There were special runs and extra special trains -- the Crown line that PFM offered comes to mind.  But in theory we should be up to our armpits in used brass from the 1950s to 1970s as modelers from that era die or retire.  Sometimes deals are to be had, for sure, and I have seen brass steamers selling for a couple hundred bucks particularly if they no longer have the original box or were painted by the prior owner.  Mint in box brass tends to create its own market.

Except for the most ruthless and impatient and ill advised family cleaning out an estate one wonders if even the most doggy old brass steamer is ever actually thrown away the way I have thrown away pathetic old LifeLike B&O Docksides that no longer really ran at all. 

While there is still some newly imported brass to be had, often you are now looking at a four figure item.  I think there is a general sense that the era of brass is, maybe not literally over, but is phasing out and shall not return (I always expected brass to turn to VietNam for yet cheaper labor costs but so far it has not happened).  Thus even a very ordinary brass locomotive -- the Tenshodo USRA 0-8-0 comes to mind, or the truly horrid running North West Short Line Cotton Belt 4-4-2 (even NWSL advertised it as the "Rotten Belt" locomotive and sold a retrofit "make it move" kit!) -- takes on a certain cache or rarity and scarcity not because plenty weren't made or imported but because they will not be succeeded by an improved version.

Now compare that to a plastic F7.  In one way or another those will be with us for some time to come.  So the Penn Line F7 was maybe a bit better than the Revell, but the Athearn super power was better than both, then the Proto 1000 F3 was better than Athearn, Athearn genesis was better than that, and so one -- and nobody sheds a tear at retiring or even throwing away the superceded model.  They aren't literally the same but they are of the same type, with no sense that we are looking at the last of a breed so to speak.  So when a Marx HO F3 stopped running I didn't feel guilty about salvaging what few parts seemed to have potential and tossing the rest away, even if some collector might have liked to have it, assuming I would ever run into such a collector.  I know where to find the brass collectors!

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Posted by fwright on Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:57 AM

mononguy63

I attended an estate auction yesterday in which an individual's collection of locomotives was sold off. The collection featured a couple dozen brass locomotives. I've never dealt with brass - I must admit that several of the locos for sale were indeed stunningly beautiful. But my jaw dropped at the prices these engines were fetching. Hundreds of dollars apiece. As I recall, the high bid for one engine was around $800, and stuff was basically going at fire sale prices (more on that in a moment). With each locomotive sold, I'd think to myself, "I could buy five of the engines I run on my layout for that one. I could buy six for that one..." The amount of money this individual had sunk into his brass collection was utterly staggering. 

Was it really that staggering in comparison to the roster lists I've seen on this forum?  I'm assuming the "couple dozen" brass locomotives went for an average of say $500 (I'm being generous) - most would be less, a few would be more.  That's $12,000 total.

Buy the same number (24) of current production steam locomotives from BLI, Rivarossi, Trix, MTH at today's street prices - and tell me how much cheaper it actually is.  I'd bet you'd be up in $8K country.  For beautiful plastic and die cast locomotives - many with sound and electronic boards and wonderful paint jobs, but of unknown long term durability.

And the diesel guys with their 100 locomotive rosters - to replace that today would be over $10K.

So no, I don't think the amount is staggering for some to many in the hobby - although I personally am not in that league.  I'm sure it was done at the rate of a couple of locomotives a year.  And he may have paid less when he originally bought his brass.

So my question is directed mostly at you brass collectors out there. Is this typical for a brass collection? Do a lot of people really invest that heavily into their motive roster?

Like tbdanny, keeping a roster that matches the layout is the key to keeping my hobby expenditures under control, especially once outside of HO or N standard gauge.  How many locomotives does one need, and how many can one afford?  With my small layout, even when completed to maximum size, 3 standard gauge and 4 narrow gauge locomotives is all the layout can handle at any given time.

There is a third alternative to used brass or new plastic in HO and HOn3 - remotoring, rebuilding, and detailing mostly OOP lower end locomotives like Roundhouse and Keystone Shays, and Mantua, Roundhouse, Model Power, Kidder, and FED rod engines.  Even then, you tend to end up at at least $200 and often at $300 when all is said and done.  Add another $75-$100 and a few hours for a Tsunami sound install.

The one exception point to the above is Bachmann Spectrum plastic steam.  They are under-cutting others in street price of new production.  If Spectrum has what you want, the price can be lower.

Bottom line is to consider all resources (space, time, money) required when planning a layout.  Just because you have space doesn't mean you have the time or money to fill it in the way you would desire.  Luckily for my planning, all 3 resources - time, money, and space - are similarly limited so no one resource drives.  A small layout - which is all I have land grant for - requires much smaller rosters, fewer structures, and fewer wagons, horses, and figures, which in turn keeps costs in check.  And even at my leisurely pace, I have time to do the model building I enjoy while still "completing" the layout in a reasonable number of decades.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:59 AM

 I would say that in general, today's brass is better than today's plastic. Just as yesterday's brass was better than yesterday's plastic (and zamack castings). But modern plastic against yesterday's brass? My one direct comparison example is no contest, PCM Reading T-1 vs the NJ Custom Brass version from the 70's - the PCM model is more detailed and the fine bits are just as fine. But I still see the brass version (unpainted) going for $500 and up on eBay. Not falsely advertised, either, in a  way that could trick the unwary that it's actually the Overland version - the more recent Overland brass version IS more detailed than the PCM version.

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Posted by Howard Zane on Thursday, May 6, 2010 9:37 AM

This is a very intersting thread. I think I can simplify the discussion of brass vs.other rather easily.I have found that folks who purchase brass....quite basically do so because they can.

I hope this statement does not come off as arrogance as it is not the intention.

HZ

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Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 9:39 AM

CNJ831
the difference is that the quality and detail on the brass model is likely a factor of that many times better than on the layout-quality plastic model. I can tell you straight away, those who claim that today's plastic steamers rival brass simply has never owned a really quality brass model.

 

 

I don't doubt you, but I've never seen it. All of the brass models I've seen, like on ebay and whatnot, do not look anywhere near as well-detailed as the better plastic models. I have always heard that good brass is better than plastic. But from what I've seen-- which admittedly isn't everything-- the brass beats out the "older" plastic models, but the newer plastic models win out over the brass.

I would very much enjoy looking at something that is nicer than that. I'm not doubting it exists, but I'd sure like to see some close-up pictures of it. I'm sure it would be worth the look.

 

John

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Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 9:48 AM

Howard Zane
Unfortunately brass collecting was never presented to the general public and remained within the confines of a very parsimonius community.

 

Interesting. On the surface, one might believe that a member of a "parsimonious community" would be the very antithesis of a "Brass Collector".

 

John

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Posted by Howard Zane on Thursday, May 6, 2010 10:35 AM

Perhaps "costs concerned" would be a better choice. Then again what is the percentage of brass collectors in the hobby? My guess would be less than 5%.

HZ

 

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Posted by mononguy63 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 10:44 AM

Interesting insights, all. I found the "hobby within a hobby" comment to be particularly enlightening. Brass collecting is certainly the World's Greatest Hobby on a plane far above anything within my personal universe.

jwhitten
All of the brass models I've seen, like on ebay and whatnot, do not look anywhere near as well-detailed as the better plastic models. 

I must admit that I shared that very same opinion. Just didn't see what the big deal was about brass. But having seen some up close and personal now, I must say that, compared with plastic engines, the brass is so finely detailed that there really is no comparison. In previewing the auctions, I was honestly a little afraid to even touch them. Though, the few locomotive I did handle were like picking up solid bricks - the weight applied to the drivers would be quite impressive.

Jim

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, May 6, 2010 11:07 AM

I have seen brass go from one extreme to the other (was there for the liquidation of the Lambert estate) someone I know bought the whole thing for $8000.00, my buddy bought a beautiful camel-back from this person for $125.00. I personally own a half dozen brass but the most expensive is a Powerhouse Little River which I paid a little over $100 and have seen go for $400 but this is a hybrid but worth more than some of my all brass ones. Price on anything has to do with supply and demand, example the heisler, brass for that at one time (not the best pieces) went for around $400, Rivarossi's were going for around $125. Rivarossi came out with a new improved model but it only impacted brass prices a little. In comes Spectrum with theirs and the price (even on the better stuff) dropped dramaticaly and you can still get Rivarossi's for cheaper if you look. Now that Spectrum has almost disappeared from the market, the price of both have shot up. Now this is just what has happened on the low end but Spectrum did hit the lower priced Crowns price some at the time as the brass market thought Spectrum was going to come out with model after model, this did not happen. But as said the best of the best don't seam to be affected by these things, a different world

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Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 11:20 AM

Howard Zane

Perhaps "costs concerned" would be a better choice. Then again what is the percentage of brass collectors in the hobby? My guess would be less than 5%.

HZ

 

 

I dunno... I reckon you'd have to listen close to see if they clink when they walked... 

 

John

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Posted by mopac57 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 11:38 AM

Something else to think about when it comes to cost: The brass collectors usually don't run their equipment on a layout, so they aren't shelling out cash for vehicles, structures, scenery, lots of rolling stock, track, benchwork, expensive Tortoise switch machines, etc. When you add up all of those expenses for even a medium-sized layout, it can add up quickly. So is $800 for a single locomotive really that outlandish? Maybe. Maybe not. Guess it depends on how you like to spend your discretionary income.

fwright
Bottom line is to consider all resources (space, time, money) required when planning a layout.  Just because you have space doesn't mean you have the time or money to fill it in the way you would desire.  Luckily for my planning, all 3 resources - time, money, and space - are similarly limited so no one resource drives.  A small layout - which is all I have land grant for - requires much smaller rosters, fewer structures, and fewer wagons, horses, and figures, which in turn keeps costs in check.  And even at my leisurely pace, I have time to do the model building I enjoy while still "completing" the layout in a reasonable number of decades.

Fred makes an excellent point here. I recently took a long, hard look at my situation and scaled back my ambitions. I tweaked the layout's theme so that I only need a few locos to pull it off realistically, as opposed to needing 30 before, as well as hundreds of pieces of rolling stock. What does that mean? Basically, I now have the budget for one or two brass locos or high-quality plastic with sound, as opposed to 30 mediocre locos. And a few dozen well-detailed pieces of rolling stock, as opposed to hundreds of "so-so" models. Since I'm a detail nut, it really wasn't that much of a leap. But I started thinking in terms of quality rather than quantity, and it really opened up a new way of thinking. Plus, would I really have the time to get a large layout and 30 locos up and running? Nope. And the funds for it? Probably not. Unless I win PowerBall. But now that I'm thinking smaller and cheaper (overall), the option to purchase one or two brass locos at some point is a viable one.

This is all, of course, a personal decision. Your mileage may vary. 

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, May 6, 2010 2:56 PM

I hear you but it is hard to give up things you collected, remember when I got rid of most of my MDC stuff, very hard, doing IHC now as the cheap locos on mine are now Spectrum or Proto steam.

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Posted by tatans on Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:22 PM

The replies on this forum are some of the more sane answers to brass "collecting'' ( I still cannot get my mind around this ''hobby'')  The above explanations do make some sense rather than someone's forum on the 400 brass locomotives they have, also, gentlemen, you may be surprised as to how many "collections" of brass end in the local land fill, as they were tossed by relatives as ''toys'' How sad is that.

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Posted by CNJ831 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:16 PM

jwhitten

CNJ831
the difference is that the quality and detail on the brass model is likely a factor of that many times better than on the layout-quality plastic model. I can tell you straight away, those who claim that today's plastic steamers rival brass simply has never owned a really quality brass model.

 

I don't doubt you, but I've never seen it. All of the brass models I've seen, like on ebay and whatnot, do not look anywhere near as well-detailed as the better plastic models. I have always heard that good brass is better than plastic. But from what I've seen-- which admittedly isn't everything-- the brass beats out the "older" plastic models, but the newer plastic models win out over the brass.

I would very much enjoy looking at something that is nicer than that. I'm not doubting it exists, but I'd sure like to see some close-up pictures of it. I'm sure it would be worth the look.

A lot of the stuff one sees on eBay are early models...which were nevertheless lightyears ahead of anything else available at the time. The really early stuff (late 1950's) could sometimes be called downright crude (International/IMP).

However, here's a nice much later example, from 1989. Newer brass models are even better.

CNJ831

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:19 PM

jwhitten

CNJ831
the difference is that the quality and detail on the brass model is likely a factor of that many times better than on the layout-quality plastic model. I can tell you straight away, those who claim that today's plastic steamers rival brass simply has never owned a really quality brass model.

 

 

I don't doubt you, but I've never seen it. All of the brass models I've seen, like on ebay and whatnot, do not look anywhere near as well-detailed as the better plastic models. I have always heard that good brass is better than plastic. But from what I've seen-- which admittedly isn't everything-- the brass beats out the "older" plastic models, but the newer plastic models win out over the brass.

I would very much enjoy looking at something that is nicer than that. I'm not doubting it exists, but I'd sure like to see some close-up pictures of it. I'm sure it would be worth the look.

 

John

 

 

John, this brass steamer, which belongs to a friend, is a good example of what's available in current-day brass:

In addition to the functioning diaphram between engine and tender, this loco has operating doors and roof hatches.  It ran, for the very first time, on my layout and the operation, right out of the box, was flawless.  Absolutely the smoothest running steam loco I have ever seen and probably better than 95% of current-day diesels, too.  Like buttah! Smile,Wink, & Grin

Two of my friends are brass aficionados, and both have layouts.  Both have collections of somewhere between 50 and 100 locos, and while I would consider one to be primarily a collector, he does run them too.  The other guy is definitely a runner, and I've remotored a couple dozen brass locos for him (steam and diesel) over the years.   Some were done to improve the running characteristics, while others had simply worn out and needed to be rebuilt.  His motto is "if it doesn't run, it's useless to me." Laugh

Wayne

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Posted by tin can on Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:36 PM

I bought my first piece of brass 28 years ago, a Hallmark CF7.  At the time, that was the only way to get a CF7.  I never dreamed that in my lifetime, Athearn would produce a RTR CF7 for under $100.  The Hallmark CF7 is beautiful, but it is a hangar queen; its vertical clearances are such that it requires perfect track, so it stays in the box while my Athearns and RPPs run.

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Posted by CAZEPHYR on Thursday, May 6, 2010 5:01 PM

mononguy63

I attended an estate auction yesterday in which an individual's collection of locomotives was sold off. The collection featured a couple dozen brass locomotives. I've never dealt with brass - I must admit that several of the locos for sale were indeed stunningly beautiful. But my jaw dropped at the prices these engines were fetching. Hundreds of dollars apiece. As I recall, the high bid for one engine was around $800, and stuff was basically going at fire sale prices (more on that in a moment). With each locomotive sold, I'd think to myself, "I could buy five of the engines I run on my layout for that one. I could buy six for that one..." The amount of money this individual had sunk into his brass collection was utterly staggering.

After all the brass had sold, they moved on to the boxes stacked with "junk" locomotives. In most auctions I've attended, the junk engines are Tycos and the like. In this case, the "junk" engines were mostly Kato, Tenshodo, and Spectrum. Most of them were too modern for my layout, though I did pick up a Kato F-unit for $7.50. Tested it on my layout last night and it runs like a Swiss watch. What a steal.

So my question is directed mostly at you brass collectors out there. Is this typical for a brass collection? Do a lot of people really invest that heavily into their motive roster?

Brass sold at a local auction like you described will always go for much less than the price it could bring at a major dealer in brass, but dealers don't really want to purchase it outright.  Most collections are sold by consignment at a dealer for a 20 to 30% commision and it takes time to sell a brass collection of 100 to 200 pieces. 

 If a family needs the money quickly, the value of the brass to them will be lost by 50% or more.  The fact that the Kato diesel sold for $ 7.50 is a sign that no one was really interested in that model except you and you got a bargain.   Even on Ebay, the Kato probably would have sold for $40 to $60 dollars.

I have never attended an auction for any model trains but it sounds like it was a rare opportunity for someone to pick up some nice models for a discounted price.  

CZ 

 

If you see one like this for $800, buy it!!!

 

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Posted by UP 4-12-2 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 5:07 PM

It's good to see folks like Howard posting on here.

I was the somewhat atypical brass collector:

Prior to getting married, and before the kids came along, I bought/sold/traded a good amount--always looking for "near perfection" but not always finding it.  If the model had issues that weren't something I could fix, or if I found out that it wasn't as accurate a model as I'd hoped, or was poorly soldered, etc., well I just sold it and got something else.

My friends and I actually ran all our brass.  One guy had nearly $100,000 worth.  Some of them would buy collections and then piecemeal them out on Ebay, keeping the best piece or two for themselves.

I'm sorry to say one of my friends (you can't always pick them--especially when you meet them while working in a train store) went to jail for odometer fraud, and his girlfriend had to sell the major portion of brass to pay the legal bills.  I was involved in cataloging it and dealing with the buyer (a prominent eastern U.S. dealer, but not Howard Z.).  Due to needing cash, etc., my friend actually received less than 40 cents on the dollar of the collection value. 

The sale of that big collection was the beginning of the end for my friends and myself dabbling in brass.  They have other hobbies now--Harley's, you name it.

Most of us are completely out of brass, and a few still have some pieces--but are now running BLI/MTH/Athearn/P2K steamers for "everyday" use.

I will say that the very best brass steamers are indeed in a class by themselves, but I would argue that the best of BLI/MTH/Athearn Genesis steam power does compare very favorably with the brass models.  No, not usually in detailing--the brass models are going to win there--but in lights/sound/smoke at a reasonable price.

At 41, will I own brass again?  Maybe someday, but in the house I have now, and having only 26.375" radius (Kato) curves, it's not likely.

I prefer articulateds, and few brass articulateds are going to negotiate my curves.

Do I miss the brass years?  Yes, but I mainly miss the fun many of us had when we got together.  Now our little "lodge" group has mostly gone our separate ways, and we don't get together to run the 50 car trains anymore.  It was fun while it lasted.  I got to see a lot of really great stuff run and perform.

John Mock

 

  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: Northern VA
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Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 5:35 PM

tatans
you may be surprised as to how many "collections" of brass end in the local land fill, as they were tossed by relatives as ''toys'' How sad is that.

 

 

True, and for everyone all around. Those relatives are missing out on the small fortune they might have otherwise made.

 

John

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
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    April 2008
  • From: Northern VA
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Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 5:38 PM

CNJ831

However, here's a nice much later example, from 1989. Newer brass models are even better.

CNJ831

 

 

Wow! That *is* nice, indeed! Is it yours? How well does it run?

 

John

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: Northern VA
  • 3,050 posts
Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 5:43 PM

doctorwayne

John, this brass steamer, which belongs to a friend, is a good example of what's available in current-day brass:

In addition to the functioning diaphram between engine and tender, this loco has operating doors and roof hatches.  It ran, for the very first time, on my layout and the operation, right out of the box, was flawless.  Absolutely the smoothest running steam loco I have ever seen and probably better than 95% of current-day diesels, too.  Like buttah! Smile,Wink, & Grin

Wayne

 

 

Hey Wayne, 

Nice to see ya around! 

That one's nice tool Doesn't look "brass"-- but then not sure what else its supposed to look like. Its extremely nice though in any case. How much does something like that run new? Or secondhand? (read: is there any chance between now and doomsday that I might be able to afford one?? Big Smile)

John

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
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    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 12,257 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, May 6, 2010 6:06 PM

jwhitten
How much does something like that run new? Or secondhand? (read: is there any chance between now and doomsday that I might be able to afford one?? Big Smile)

 

Hmmm.  He did tell me, but I don't recall the exact figure:  definitely well-over a grand, and possibly closer to two.  It was factory-painted, and they did an excellent job, by the way.  And my comment about its running qualities didn't refer only to the motor/gearing set-up, which was extremely smooth and quiet, but also to its tracking capabilities.  Forwards, backwards, tight curves, turnouts, it performed flawlessly.  Watching it creep along, the wheels undulating over minor irregularities in the track was the first time I realised that my trackwork wasn't flawless.  My locos will run through the same places without derailing, too, but not with the fluidity and aplomb demonstrated by that one.

Wayne

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 670 posts
Posted by Howard Zane on Thursday, May 6, 2010 6:06 PM

John,

It is good to read your posting. Your tale is why folks who must sell brass models due to a family tradgedy should have their items apprasied. Also the apprasier should NOT be invited to bid on the items for obvious reasons. There are legitimate folks who are qualified and still offer appraisal services today.

I did this for almost two decades and can share much. One good story would be a lady whose husband passed on and was looking to sell the 600 + brass models adorning the many shelves in their home. A well known LHS reffered her to me. To make a very long and sad story a bit shorter, she asked about my fees. I then asked her if she knew where the boxes where and to save money if she could copy down what was on the labels and forward to me. She did not seem interested in having them photographed. I told her that I'd give her a quote when I saw what she sent. She did a great job in listing what was on the box labels and I then called her with a quote for the most accurate appraisal I could come up with and I would toss in pricing the rest of her husbands hundreds of plastic cars and thousands of other goodies. My estimate was around 40 ++ hours of work to reasearch the many models and what they were selling for at current prices. This was before Ebay and digital photography.

When she heard my quote of $1500, she called me a %#@@*i crook. "I'll have my husband's train buddies do this for me for nothing" .

Then she slammed the phone down. A year passed and she registered for tables at one of our Timonium shows...I suppose to try to sell her husband's remaining less expensive  toys. I had long forgotten her name and I had never met her in person, but during set up she sought me out.....

"Mr. Zane, remember me? I'm the lady you tried to rip off with your outrageous appraisal fee. I just want to let you know that I got over $75,000 for the brass models...and without your help!!

Folks, remember I had her list, and on a bad day the value would have been well over $350,000 assuming all were mint as she had claimed. I did not at the time know any dealer that would have offered her less than half or $175,000 over night. Most dealers then including me were offering around 70% of estimated street value.

Of course these are bygone days, but the game is still alive....just fewer players.

HZ

Howard Zane
  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: Northern VA
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Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 6:21 PM

doctorwayne
Forwards, backwards, tight curves, turnouts, it performed flawlessly.  Watching it creep along, the wheels undulating over minor irregularities in the track was the first time I realised that my trackwork wasn't flawless.

 

 

Sounds sweet!

Maybe my retirement account-- er, lottery ticket will win and I can find out first-hand!

 

John

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: Northern VA
  • 3,050 posts
Posted by jwhitten on Thursday, May 6, 2010 6:24 PM

 

Howard Zane
"Mr. Zane, remember me? I'm the lady you tried to rip off with your outrageous appraisal fee. I just want to let you know that I got over $75,000 for the brass models...and without your help!!

It's a shame you didn't just give her the $75k yourself and pocket the difference. LOL !!!

 

John

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 6,651 posts
Posted by rrebell on Thursday, May 6, 2010 6:48 PM

Howard it is a pleasure to have you pipe in here. Any more stories I am sure would be appreciated!

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