Hi everyone, Trainfam here. Lionel began producing items in 1900, however the first actual items made by Lionel were mainly “electric novelty’s” as Lionel themselves called them. And as early catalogs depict, the pieces were really electric novelty’s! The items mainly consisting of flashlights, alarm clocks, and fans among other things. However in 1902 2 7/8” gauge trains began to appear in catalog pages, below are pictures of some of the train items in the 1902 catalog.
Keep in mind that in 1902 Lionel only had one gauge, which was 2 7/8”. So that being said Lionel was pretty new to the train market, and Ives saw this as a competition. Thus thrusting the two of the companies in a head to head fight to win the hearts of young boys that would nearly last 30 years! but it was not until 1906 that Lionel would begin to produce and market its first steam engine, the number 5. The first variant featured thin rim wheels, pedestal headlamps, and a longer more stretched out cowcatcher. Also nyc&hrr stamps were located below the windows on the cabs, however there appears to be a variation featuring a Pennsylvania stamping instead of nyc&hrr? Here’s a picture.
I am unaware of any other road names on the cab except for these two. The second version of this locomotive features thick rim wheels, strap headlights. Some may be confused as to if they have a number 5 or number 6, which is very similar to the 5, however the number 6 features pony wheels (training wheels as I call them). There are many different versions and odd balls, but those are the basics.