A pictorial guide of Modern Era Lionel-produced Flyer would be a very welcome addition to the Flyer community. A book with color reproduction, of necessity, would be relatively pricey because the expected sales would dictate a small print run. It would be a labor love because any remuneration would not match the time required to produce the guide/book. Omitting pricing is theoretically appealing and would make the job easier, but is worthwhile to remember that many sales of guides to individuals are driven, deep down, by the inclusion of prices (i.e., “Follow the money!”).
I believe that truly informative and accurate books should be individually devoted to AM, SHS, AF, and so forth. True, the Doyle book is very useful because of the color pictures, but Dave attempted to include all of Flyer up to 1966. As a consequence, the 5-digit Gilbert S, prewar, and HO sections have numerous errors, omissions, questionable pricing, etc. Focus of scope is important for accuracy, if nothing else.
A few other thoughts to share:
- Internet auction sites are a source of pricing, but hardly the only source. The cost of doing business, bidding wars, and difficulty in the determination of true condition distort the range of items offered and the pricing picture. Also, many items of collecting importance seldom show up on those sites. For example, there has been a dearth of nice AF boxed sets on ‘you know what’ lately.
- Pricing in pocket guides can be relatively valid if a reasonably wide range of inputs are gathered from knowledgeable individuals, geographic regions, large train meets and shows, physical auctions, etc. York is helpful, but not absolute in this regard. Legitimate pricing exercises take a fair amount of time and work and, therefore, should not be attempted too often. Waiting a at least a half decade between editions permits one to more easily determine trends, do things more thoroughly, and avoid the exercise of taking practically the same guide and slapping a new cover on it.
- Methodology on treating pricing input matters. Statistically, some methods get you into the ballpark while others result in ‘sticky’ pricing (i.e., too slow to go up and too slow to go down).
For the case of the guide I can speak for, the TM AF S Gauge Guides have usually included both Lionel and Gilbert S, some pictures, descriptions of each train item, estimates of scarcity, important variations, complete set listings and contents, the most extensive listing of collectible Gilbert paper anywhere (with the help of Andy Jugle), and pricing trends as well as prices. The first edition (2000) was done in collaboration with Dave Garrigues so the starting point was pretty darn accurate. This was done in an affordable, compact, and hopefully useful book. As for overly high ‘collector’ pricing, there are many downward trend arrows in the 2012 edition compared to the prices in the 2004 edition. We reported the bad news.