Empire Express is widely know as a low-priced line of trains that American Flyer marketed in the late 1920s and early 1930s. But how did the brand come about?
It is theorized that the Empire Express name was originally was used by JC Penney as their store branded trains in 1927 & 1928, prior to their use of Nation Wide Lines as their store brand, which occurred beginning in 1929. There is some evidence to support this, in the form of original boxed sets marked with Empire Express labels and JC Penney price tags.
Here is a c. 1928 Empire Express set. It is not the typical wind-up set associated with the Empire Express name and it is not the typical Little American set.
The typical Little American set featured an 1120 coach and an 1120 observation. This set came with two 1107 coaches, no observation.
More to come...