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Greetings American Flyer Lovers,

I run a small nonprofit  agency that helps the elderly in the Albany area of New York. The other day a widow in her 80s asked if I knew anyone that would be interested in her deceased husbands collection of American Flyer trains. She thinks she has 25 train cars and engines or so. Can any of you guys help me help her? The collect is old and possibly of some value to someone in the hobby. Is there a directory that lists the approximate value of AF trains? All suggestions are welcome. The money will be a big help to her.

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If she is looking to sell them, her best bet might be to reach out to Milepost Hobbies, which is located nearby in Amsterdam, NY. I live in Albany and can't think of any closer hobby shops that would be interested. There is a train club (Upstate Model Railroaders) and some of their members model in tinplate S scale, so reaching out to them might be helpful too.

In this market, I am not sure that a directory would be accurate for American Flyer trains unless they were mint in box. I have some myself, but don't trust any values in books. The trains are worth what people are willing to pay for them.

@Woof posted:

Greetings American Flyer Lovers,

I run a small nonprofit  agency that helps the elderly in the Albany area of New York. The other day a widow in her 80s asked if I knew anyone that would be interested in her deceased husbands collection of American Flyer trains. She thinks she has 25 train cars and engines or so. Can any of you guys help me help her? The collect is old and possibly of some value to someone in the hobby. Is there a directory that lists the approximate value of AF trains? All suggestions are welcome. The money will be a big help to her.

Sorry to hear of this loss.  With apologies for not seeing this sooner, but if I could be sent some photos of the collection, I will  try to provide an approximate value.  Alternately, she or someone could look at e-bay recently sold items which takes time, but does also provide good information on value.  I do belong to a local club (Upstate Model Railroaders - about an hour north of Albany), but we at this time do not purchase collections.  E-Bay is, in my view, a relative good way to get money, but also takes considerable time and effort to accomplish.

There is a price guide (see below), but as noted earlier, these have limited value particularly for items that are not in perfect condition.  

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Below Is A Portion of Portlines Website on Collections That Might Be Useful (A Highly Respected Firm)

COLLECTION DISPOSAL OPTIONS
(Revised May, 2021)

Should you wish to dispose of your trains, the following options describe your primary choices. We have tried to indicate the benefits and the drawbacks of each option. Based upon this, if you wish any additional information about any of the options, or if you decide upon one and would like some specific referrals suggested, we would be glad to assist.

I. Piece-meal sales: You can dispose of your trains yourself, item-by-item, in any of three ways.

(a) Create a Sales List, advertise its availability in the “train press”, mail out copies to all who request it, and fill orders as received.

BENEFITS: You realize maximum $$ return at minimal cost to you.

DRAWBACKS: Time. Slow $$ return. You will never sell everything by this method, and you’ll be left with a large number of less-desirable, lower-value items to be disposed of in another manner.

(b) Rent sales tables at area train shows, and sell things off as a dealer.

BENEFITS & DRAWBACKS are the same as above, except that both your expenses and your time commitment will be greater. The advantage is that items are visible to the prospective buyer.

(c) EBAY: You sell the items yourself by listing them on-line with EBAY, FACEBOOK, (or other similar on-line auctions).

BENEFITS: You control the rate at which things are sold. You can also set a minimum sale price for each item, if you wish; however, there is no guarantee that the item will achieve a bid for that amount. EBAY charges a percentage of the final selling price as a commission. This can run as high as 20%, depending upon the selling price. In addition, EBAY prefers buyers pay with PAYPAL, which costs the seller an additional 4-8% fee. Adding digital photos to your listing is required, and essential.

EBAY currently (2015+) allows a seller to list a significant number of items per month with no listing fee. However to make up for that, they also increased their % charged for every sale. In addition, they now charge the same percentage on the shipping fee you receive from the buyer.

DRAWBACKS: On-line auctions consume a fair amount of your time to create and post them, and results are unpredictable. Digital photos of the items for sale are essential; it’s a significant step above “buying sight unseen”. In creating your posting, you need to know what you’re selling, and what fair value you might expect to receive for it. Fees vary, but can be a significant, percentage, especially for items that sell at a low price.

Fall and winter are the best seasons for EBAY train sales; summer is the worst.

II. Outright sale of the entire collection: You invite one or more reputable train dealers to inspect the collection, or at least a detailed listing of it, and make you an offer for the entire lot.

BENEFITS: Quick sale of everything. Negligible expense to you.

DRAWBACKS: You can never expect to receive full value. The better the quality

of the collection, the higher the percentage of value you can expect to realize, but most dealers will offer you between 40% and 60%, even for the best items. Remember that the dealer must be able to realize a profit within a reasonable period of time, while experiencing the same drawbacks listed in [I] above.

III. Auction: You consign any or all items to a reputable toy/train auctioneer for disposal.

BENEFITS: Quick removal of everything. Everything goes! No hassle; limited effort on your part.

DRAWBACKS: The actual auction sale may be delayed by several months, as the auctioneer must process all items, organize and catalog them appropriately for the auction, and then advertise the auction. Unpredictable $$ return. A knowledgeable toy train auctioneer will offer the better items individually, but the average and lesser-value items will usually be sold in “box lots”. Typically, box-lots in particular do not bring full value; box lots can be the bargains for dealers at the auction. In addition, the auctioneer will, of course, charge you between 15% - 40% commission.

A lower commission can be misleading, as the expenses of running the auction may be borne by you prior to the calculation of the commission. Some auction houses now charge a “seller’s premium” %, as well as a “buyer’s premium” %. Many auction houses will also charge you a mandatory additional fee for insurance coverage while the items are in their possession; others include it for free. This is usually determined as an additional percentage of the final sales price. Almost all will also charge you for their time and expenses as they come to pack and remove the collection. Read the fine print!

IV. Consignment Sale:  You consign any or all items to a dealer willing to advertise and sell them for you for a predetermined commission (usually 25-40%).

BENEFITS: Quick removal of everything. Little effort on your part. Reasonably predictable $$ return. You may retain the option of terminating the process after a given period of time, and dispose of all remaining items by one of the other methods.

DRAWBACKS: Slower $$ return. You will probably receive monthly payments as items are sold and accounted for. (Sometimes, this can be an advantage, especially if the income is sizeable and is spread over two calendar/tax years. Any sale of over $10,000 must be reported to the IRS by the dealer.)

SUGGESTED AUCTION HOUSES FOR TRAIN COLLECTION DISPOSAL:

Stout Auctions

Williamsport, IN

800-789-5068

www.stoutauctions.com

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Toy Trains & Other Old Stuff (Wylie Stivers)

1951 W Division Rd,

Fowler, Indiana 47944

765-409-4679

toystrainsandotheroldstuff@gmail.com

www.toystrainsandotheroldstuff.com

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Cabin Fever Auctions

Spring City, PA 19475

800-789-5068

www.cabinfeverauctions.com

Lloyd Ralston Auctions

549 Howe Ave; #304

Shelton, CT 06484

Phone 203-924-5804

www.lloydralstontoys.com

lrgallery@sbcglobal.net

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Gabriel’s Auctioneers (Evan Gavrille)
192 Vanderbilt Ave
Norwood, MA 02062
Phone: 781-769-1600
www.gabrielsauctions.com

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You are good to try and help.  Mike West

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