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My first encounter of antique toy trains and the many unfamiliar brands besides the well known Lionel, American Flyer and MARX were in the works of Louis Hertz. Along with the Carstens publication, Toy Trains of Yesteryear, that was my introduction to the wonderful variety of manufacturers both here and abroad, especially in Germany with their amazing products, particularly those of Bing and Marklin. Here in the US, the extraordinary trains and accessories of the Ives Company were revealed to me. Other names like Carlisle and Finch, Voltamp, and Electoy soon became apparent. Almost all of these were well before my time and the whole fascinating history was gradually revealed through the fine books by Mr. Hertz. Then came the wonderful sharing of these ACTUAL treasures on the OGR Tinplate Forum by such esteemed and knowledgable collectors such as Jim Kelly-Evans, Robert S. Butler, Fred, Daniel, Philly Chris, ARNE and many others! Being a longtime "Armchair" collector, but NOT an actual one, my vicarious interests were wonderfully fulfilled by the afore mentioned experts sharing their splendid, and often rare, examples of the train maker's craft! I am almost certain, their own evolution as premier and savvy collectors, initially began with a perusal of the works of the late Mr. Hertz. Hopefully. They will confirm my notion on this thread!

Last edited by Tinplate Art
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Collecting Model Trains and Riding the Tinplate Rails are two seminal works by Mr. Hertz that are worthy of being included in every train collector's library. Perhaps somewhat dated in light of present research and knowledge, they remain the foundation for this hobby of ours. Mr. Hertz's passion for the tinplate trains of his day with a particular fondness for Ives is evident in all of his volumes.

I've always liked the opening to Hertz's book Collecting Model Trains:

Scene: A local hobby shop. Mr. Smith enters, exchanges greetings with the proprietor, nods to Mr. Jones, whom he knows by sight, and idly watches their transaction as he awaits his turn. Mr. Smith notices that Mr. Jones evidently has just bought a new HO gauge locomotive kit, and then Mr. Jones’s other purchase catches his eye. It’s a big old model locomotive, which doesn’t really look too much like a prototype locomotive at all, and is rather scratched and dented, yet Mr. Jones evidently regards it quite proudly and can hardly keep his eyes off it while it is being wrapped.

  After Mr. Jones has left, Mr. Smith’s curiosity gets the better of him. “What on earth was Jones doing with that piece of tin junk? It looks like something one of Noah’s kids must have played with in the Ark.”

  “Why, don’t you know? He’s a collector of old model trains. He’s got one of the best collections in town. That engine was quite a find.”

  You mean there are people who actually collect that stuff?”

  “Sure, lots of them.”

  At this point, more likely than not, Mr. Smith raises his eyebrows, thinks somewhat pityingly of Mr. Jones, and may even make a spinning cartwheel motion with his right forefinger close to his ear.

Scene the second: The same hobby shop, a few weeks or so later. Mr. Smith again, speaking somewhat hesitantly: “You know, I’ve been thinking … I had an electric train when I was a kid, that my folks gave away afterward. It was O gauge and had a black engine with the headlight socket sort of sunk into the front of the engine body.” He pauses and looks a little sheepish. “You know, I wouldn’t mind getting a train like that again to sort of stand on a shelf over my layout. Do you think you might be able to find me one? I don’t remember the number. I had a lot of catalogs I saved when I was a kid and threw them out just a few years ago. I wish I’d kept them.”

  “Well, we might get in an engine like that sometime. You never can tell what we’ll pick up or get traded in. The only thing I can say is, you check with me every so often and see what’s come in.”

 Scene the last: The same hobby shop, several months later. Mr. Smith again; this time he rather bustles in, with rather an air of eager expectancy on his face:

  “Got any old trains?”

 

….and so, for many, such as all of us on this forum,…. it began.

  In my case it was a little different.  I was 6 when I visited a neighbor’s house to see a large Lionel layout that belonged to the older brother of my friend.  We went into the basement and I got the shock of my young life – the layout was just gone!  In its place was an under-construction HO layout.  In a somewhat disappointed voice, I asked what had happened to the Lionel trains and his older brother said, “Those are just toys.  I traded them in for these. This is real model railroading. Don’t worry, you’ll be running trains like this before long.”  I remember staring at the HO trains and thinking, “I’ll never do anything like that.”….and I never did.

Nice topic...

I always liked this summary of whether a model was scale or tinplate, done by Joseph Lechner for the TCA years ago. Lots of influence from Louis Hertz:

http://www.tcaetrain.org/artic.../tinplate/index.html 

...and this line in particular from Mr. Hertz:

"There is no onus associated with operating a system with tinplate equipment rather than… scale models... Tinplate and tinplaters, far from being terms of disparagement... are honored words in model railroad phraseology."

I never met him, despite having lived only 8 miles or so apart. I have several of his books and reread them from time to time. 

Anyone know what he did for a living?

Tom

The Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones story is one of my favorites. I am familiar with Louis Hertz’s texts.

My start was through osmosis. My grandfather and his father (my great-grandfather) both worked on the PRR. My dad’s first purchase after his discharge from the US Navy was a Fleischmann locomotive. It ran under the tree every Christmas.

I’ve always been drawn to trains and I love old stuff, so tinplate kills two birds with one stone. Please don’t count me as either ‘savvy’ or ‘expert’. If I see something I like, I don’t think too much beyond that.

I also have Mr. Hertz's books, but I never read them completely, I always have to translate English texts first.

The Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones story is a bit like my own story.

My grandma had a Märklin train, which shaped me very early on. The first own track was from Lego in 1968, but 1970 there was a Marklin railway for Christmas and the foundation stone of the "collective madness" was laid. It grew more and more from year to year until around 1995.

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Then the collection became more and more boring, all affordable models were already available. In addition, I became more and more angry about Marklin's politics, more and more printing options and more and more single-use series.

So everything was sold and the 0 gauge collection started. Only a little bit first.

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But something like that will quickly become much more.

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vit

Greetings

Arne

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In brief, my story was that I was always an operator and a frequent gauge "jumper". Whenever I got bored, I would sell or sometimes trade for the latest greatest that I could afford. I have had several friends here in Nashville with large collections, but I never had the urge or financial ability to acquire trains just to put on shelves. I ran everything in multipal gauges, mostly O, standard and G, including gauge one live steam. Never went to York (crowd phobic) and really never had the time nor the money for travel. I rather spent the available funds locally or by mail order for whatever I needed. I guess you could call me an eclectic participant who constantly jumped around with no clear focus, but I ALWAYS enjoyed whatever trains and accessories I had at the particular point in time!  ☺

Last edited by Tinplate Art

Hello all ...I grew up by continually checking out the Hertz books at the library .....to memorize each page ..at the ripe age of 14 started writing to Hertz ...and we corresponded for many years ..when I got my drivers license at 16 in 1976 drove out from Chicago to meet Louis ... 

Louis has left a legacy of writing about toy trains  that has influenced a wave of collectors.  Louis was very diligent in his research ... over the course of decades since his writing some new material has surfaced to poke a hole or two in some of his findings  ...but for the most part  his writings are sound .   Louis knew all the players and befriended  them all. Here is Louis in 1937 at the advanced age of 15 . 

 

Cheers Carey  

 

 

American Boy August 1937 

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I guess you could say I graduated into tinplate. After having HO as a kid and then later N and postwar Lionel and gradually getting into more scale size O gauge equipment, I took a long, long break and it was the early prewar colorful stuff that lured me back. No more worrying about scale and realism! Just arrange and enjoy beautiful woks of art and arrange them like an abstract painting!

I only wish I had the money to collect this stuff, but I am enjoying a small Christmas layout and restoring my dad's and other trains from the 1920s and 1930s.

Hi everyone, hertz is probably the most important figure in collecting model trains. From an early age he knew that there was a world of trains that were just waiting to be explored and to be wrote about, and he took advantage of it. He is why we know about the Dorfan company, and so much of what we of about the Märklin line and other German companies were written by Hertz in his books. Wish I could have met him!

 

                                                Trainfam

Last edited by TrainFam
Robert S. Butler posted:

I've always liked the opening to Hertz's book Collecting Model Trains:

Scene: A local hobby shop. Mr. Smith enters, exchanges greetings with the proprietor, nods to Mr. Jones, whom he knows by sight, and idly watches their transaction as he awaits his turn. Mr. Smith notices that Mr. Jones evidently has just bought a new HO gauge locomotive kit, and then Mr. Jones’s other purchase catches his eye. It’s a big old model locomotive, which doesn’t really look too much like a prototype locomotive at all, and is rather scratched and dented, yet Mr. Jones evidently regards it quite proudly and can hardly keep his eyes off it while it is being wrapped.

  After Mr. Jones has left, Mr. Smith’s curiosity gets the better of him. “What on earth was Jones doing with that piece of tin junk? It looks like something one of Noah’s kids must have played with in the Ark.”

  “Why, don’t you know? He’s a collector of old model trains. He’s got one of the best collections in town. That engine was quite a find.”

  You mean there are people who actually collect that stuff?”

  “Sure, lots of them.”

  At this point, more likely than not, Mr. Smith raises his eyebrows, thinks somewhat pityingly of Mr. Jones, and may even make a spinning cartwheel motion with his right forefinger close to his ear.

Scene the second: The same hobby shop, a few weeks or so later. Mr. Smith again, speaking somewhat hesitantly: “You know, I’ve been thinking … I had an electric train when I was a kid, that my folks gave away afterward. It was O gauge and had a black engine with the headlight socket sort of sunk into the front of the engine body.” He pauses and looks a little sheepish. “You know, I wouldn’t mind getting a train like that again to sort of stand on a shelf over my layout. Do you think you might be able to find me one? I don’t remember the number. I had a lot of catalogs I saved when I was a kid and threw them out just a few years ago. I wish I’d kept them.”

  “Well, we might get in an engine like that sometime. You never can tell what we’ll pick up or get traded in. The only thing I can say is, you check with me every so often and see what’s come in.”

 Scene the last: The same hobby shop, several months later. Mr. Smith again; this time he rather bustles in, with rather an air of eager expectancy on his face:

  “Got any old trains?”

 

….and so, for many, such as all of us on this forum,…. it began.

  In my case it was a little different.  I was 6 when I visited a neighbor’s house to see a large Lionel layout that belonged to the older brother of my friend.  We went into the basement and I got the shock of my young life – the layout was just gone!  In its place was an under-construction HO layout.  In a somewhat disappointed voice, I asked what had happened to the Lionel trains and his older brother said, “Those are just toys.  I traded them in for these. This is real model railroading. Don’t worry, you’ll be running trains like this before long.”  I remember staring at the HO trains and thinking, “I’ll never do anything like that.”….and I never did.

A similar story...

Many years ago a collector, Paul Rowlen, had an Allen Organ Studio and also had shelves where he would buy and sell trains.  I would frequent the store on Thursday nights when Paul was open late.  

A gentleman (Dr Julius Gerlach, a local pediatrician) came in one evening with an American Flyer Shasta bell ringer from his childhood that had bad wheels and asked Paul if he could get it fixed.  Paul said sure and he would find out how much.  

A few weeks later Jake (the doctor's nickname) came in and asked about his potential repair.  Paul told him $6 per wheel.  Jake balked.  About that time another fellow collector opened the door and called to Paul:  hey did you see that fellow with the Shasta and tell him I'm offering $500 for it???  Jake reached into his wallet and handed Paul the $24!  And thus another Standard Gauge collector was born.  Jake's stamp collecting days became secondary.  He really loved the hobby and the new friends he made.

Lou N

 

Robert S. Butler posted:

Lou N - too bad someone didn't have a timing gun on Jake - it would have been nice to know the speed with which he drew his wallet and withdrew  the $24.  - Great story 

Robert,  I'm sure you knew both of them. Paul's shop was in Southland and Jake had his practice on Pearl Road. Both were in Middleburg Heights. This was around 1980 .

Lou N

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