Timeless Toys

Timeless Toys
Collecting Model Railways... ...many thousands do of course - probably more per bead of
population in the U.K. than any other country. This is due, I am sure to the foresight and marketing skills of FRANK HORNBY, the founder of MECCANO who in 1920 produced his first HORNBY TRAINS.

At this time only mainly German built "live steam" or clockwork models had been available, with the exception of the Bassett-howke hand-built in Northampton often for German firms. These generally speaking were expensive toys to buy.

Starting with rather simple clockwork "O" Gauge (this scale is 7mm to the foot) made from tin-pyoung schoolboys and of course their dads. Apart from the reliability and accuracy of these toys, Hornby shrewdly undercut the price of his rivals and made his range of model railway products available to less well-off households.

From this rather low key beginning there developed by the mid 1930's sophisti
Timeless Toys

cated and accurate models including passenger coaches, goods wagons, stations, signals, railway workmen, passengers etc. From the late 1920's electric-powered models were made at first with a rather low-powered 6V motor which was increased to 12V with corresponding faster "lap" lines!

Perhaps Hornby's finest model locomotive was the electric - powered "The    PRINCESS ELIZABETH" named after our present Queen. This was released in 1937 to coincide with the introduction of the real L.M.S. train into service between Euston and Glasgow. Our photo shows a virtually mint example with original case, which is offered in Barry Potters Rugby Auction on 20th September with an estimate of £2000-£2500.

There is however a huge range of less expensive "O" gauge locomotives available within a price range of £l0-£200 depending on condition, rarity and whether clockwork or electric - (the latter being usually more expensive).

Timeless Toys
 Hornby knew his market and, partic¬ularly for the less well-off produced small four-wheeled clockwork models with or without a Tender, which now retail in good working order for around £15-20 with appropriate coaches or goods wagons at £3-£5.


  Many of the pre-war accessories such as stations, goods depots, engine sheds and boxed sets of station furniture or equip¬ment and figures are much sought after by keen collectors and prices can range from £50 up to £500 for an electrically it station.

With the 1920's - 1930's housing boom, the demand arose for a smaller gauge model railway system which could easily be set up on the kitchen or dining room table and in 1938 Hornby introduced an "OO" gauge scale for this purpose.

 The locomotives had die-cast bodies instead of the more expensive tin-plate and for the first two years these were available with either clockwork or electric motors. After the resumption of production in 1947, following WWII however, only electric versions were made.

The first "OO" gauge locomotive was the L.N.E.R. "SIR NIGEL GRESLEY" with matching passenger coaches. A rare clockwork version in mint and boxed condition would today sell for about £600, whilst the two coach articulated unit in similar condition would cost between £300-400.
Post war electric powered versions are relatively common and would cost     Locomotives in mint boxed condition

Timeless Toys
between £100-150 boxed, with unboxed well-run (used) examples costing between £15 -25.
These early "OO" gauge models ran on three rail tracks with the current flowing through a live middle rail. This system changed into a more efficient two rail one in 1959.

Common post-war two or three rail locomotives, such as "The Duchess of Montrose", "Mallard", "Bristol Castle", and various tank locomotives can be bought for as little as £8-10 in unboxed, played with condition with mint/ boxed examples selling for between £40-100.

Timeless Toys
The locomotives shown (above) in mint boxed condition would sell for approx. £400. "The ^ Ludlow Castle" - £135. "Bristol Castle" - £125. "City of London", and £60-70 for the 2-6-4 Tank No.80033. Sets like "The Caledonian" produced in the early 1960's sell for £150-200, and "The Bristolian" produced       during the mid 1950's between £130-150.

It should be possible to buy a reasonable second hand layout of either "O" or "OO" gauge for between £50-100.

Today Hornby Railways, having amalgamated with Tri-ang Railways in 1972, produces about 30 different locomotives plus appropriate rolling stock and accessories. In recent years the trend has been to issue limited edition models and sets, at high prices to boost both collector interest and the company's profits! Your local model shop or collectors' toy and train fairs will provide a variety of old and new collectible model railway for every pocket.

   Collectibles Coach

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