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If I were worried about what my trains were worth monetarily, I would be in a different hobby! :  As for their "play" value, that's more of my concern.  I have some that mostly sit on the shelf, just because I think they really look cool or I have a special attachment to that model for some reason.  I have others that I run more often.  Finally, I have some primarily for the entertainment of visitors.

I am busily and happily draining the fun equity out of my trains.  I could care less about whatever residual value they might have in the eyes of others.  I've weathered them, re-motored them, repainted them, glued stuff like added details to them, took a Dremel to some of them, etc.  I've never, ever worried about "ruining the value" of them.  They are providing full value to me! 

For me - priceless.

There isn't any way I could put a dollar value on my trains - the fun of the hunt for an elusive piece to add to the collection, the joy of building and photographing dioramas, the thrill of having some of those pictures make the front cover of TCQ and the picture section in CTT, the carpet central constructs and what they have meant to me and to my many visitors over the years, the sense of satisfaction after completing a build either from a kit or scratch, ...and on and on.

For the final hammer at the auction - whatever they sell for.

@Lionelski posted:

So, What are our trains worth?

Check out my thoughts on this subject here: https://www.warrenvillerailroa...our-toy-trains-worth

I'm also inviting you to provide me with your thoughts on this subject. Your input might be added to this blog post in the near future.

Thanks

Liked your blog post and agree with most of it.  And "I can't sell it for that - I have more in it" always elicits a chuckle, but that attitude is all too common. 

Just a couple of additions... First, if someone is searching ebay for rare items or obscure variations, they really need to do their homework to avoid fakes.  I'm not into rarity, but if I was, I would probably stick with buying in person from people I know, or at least asking for unbiased knowledgeable help at a TCA meet.  Second, my experience with for-sale listings in the TCA and LCCA publications is that the asking prices are generally wildly optimistic.

I am firmly in the camp that the value of the trains is for fun. I think whether someone is a collector or an operator, the real value is in what joy they bring. Yes, there are items in this world, the rare, the items in mint shape, that are collectible and will appreciate in value, and if someone is doing it for that reason then the monetary value will matter, since that is why they are doing it.

I don't track the value of what I have, because I see it as a sunk cost into having fun. Doing that, if the time comes to sell whatever I have, whatever I get back is gravy, if I get a nice meal out of it for my wife and myself or maybe even help pay for something nice for her or my son, I'll be happy. I could see myself even giving it away to someone that I know will have fun with it and enjoy it.

For me - priceless.

There isn't any way I could put a dollar value on my trains - the fun of the hunt for an elusive piece to add to the collection, the joy of building and photographing dioramas, the thrill of having some of those pictures make the front cover of TCQ and the picture section in CTT, the carpet central constructs and what they have meant to me and to my many visitors over the years, the sense of satisfaction after completing a build either from a kit or scratch, ...and on and on.

For the final hammer at the auction - whatever they sell for.

Well said.

And if I have my way, I won't be able to hear the auction hammer.

"Fluffy Bun" worth: Priceless.  A capstone to the gate barring distractions, misery, and mayhem from any dark side of life.

"Monetary" worth:  What someone will pay...long after I'm gone.  It's all recorded/inventoried in an Excel tome.  Included are two columns for nearly every item, labeled "Paid" and "Value", the latter of which is a mix of MSRP and secondary market sales data, including mo/yr.  If it was a kit-build or scratch-build by myself, the value is pretty much the same as I paid for the kit/materials..no one ever pays for what your time on earth is really worth when you're having this much fun, do they?!

None of which matters to me while I'm still here.

Besides, my wife is into the hobby.  She should survive me by about 20 years, comparing family histories and genetics.  In the longest run, it's her call.

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Re: "I can't sell it for that - I have more in it"...

laughing

KD

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10 years ago my grandson wanted me to get out the trains from my dad's collection. They had been in boxes wrapped in news paper from the 50's. I begrudgingly got them out and we started laying track on the floor. I told him I had to go upstairs for a moment. While I was gone the little **** had the transformer hooked up and one of the engines running. Wow I thought after all these years and it still runs. I then thought these have got to be worth big money. After checking in train collectibles and there value reality hit home. That engine was listed for $80 to $150. Now if l had the original box that was a different story. Seems the box had more value than the engine. But the big thing was that started a love for this hobby . Seeing that old train running on the tracks and the delight in my grandsons face triggered my emotions and made me a kid again.

Well here I am at 80 still running trains , building a layout for who ME. Value for me is remembering how I felt 70yrs ago when my dad and I were running trains. Now it's seeing the excitement in little and old when they visit my layout. That to me is VALUE.

The problem with worth is educating those who are either 1) new to the hobby or 2) found some trains in the attic of some dead relative and think they have a gold mine.  I took some time on one occasion to discuss the latter with a CL seller as i was interested in what he had...just not the crazy price he wanted.  I have a feeling they ended up in a dumpster.  I also recently realistically estimated a collection for someone whose husband passed and she was able to get within a few hundred$ of my estimate for everything from a collection buyer and not get hosed.  Unfortunately, there is no good way to reach everyone who may be in that boat.   As for those entering the hobby, hopefully they end up with a reputable dealer who steers them right and they stay OFF the bay until they know what they are doing.  In the end, they're only worth what others will pay or, as others have said, what they bring you for happiness.

In dollars, no where near what you may think they are...

As to the nostalgic value, immeasurable.

When reentering 0 scale in the last third of my life I purchased each and every P/W Lionel item I had as a child only in the later scale sized 2 rail version.

Then the "fever" peaked which prompted the addition of three 3 rail add-on train runs on different levels on my 2 rail layout to complete the full circle.

Only wish my father could see what he started.

I collect things. Trains, Cameras, Art & Buildings.  Other than the Art, I try to explain to people that mostly I am collecting industrial design.  I suppose I should add that there are a lot of TV's, Radios, Electric Shavers and Kitchen related items.

I have never run any of the trains I have acquired in the last 40 years or so.  For the most part they sit on shelves.  Williams, Weaver and Mike's make up 95% of what I have.  I measure everything against Postwar Lionel.  Using that basis for comparison I consider all of the engines as 'art pieces'.  I agree the early Williams does not really hold up well against a newer MTH but if you measure it against Postwar Lionel, it is a piece of art.  The quality of that 'art' continued to improve through Weaver into the present.

Value?  Don't care.  Not going to sell anything.  The real value is in the enjoyment.

"So, what are our trains worth?"  Like others, I enjoy the hobby and will continue to enjoy it as long as possible.  Not sure about your trains, but I'd say pennies on the dollar for mine.  My wife supports my hobby, but unless she is hit by a bus, will outlive me (genetics).  She will almost immediately downsize the house, so I think she will contact some folks I provided her to see if they will just take the trains off her hands.  I know of no family that wants them.

For a while, most of what I have was family owned from the 50's, I was the youngest and had a Scout set.  Now, 70 some odd years later I am still purchasing what I like, still have all of the old stuff and recently got into Tin Plate.  As was said in an earlier post, this is money gone, sunk, but the restful time spent doing things with these toys of ours is priceless.  Working on that darn plastic kit-bashed overpass for days now, 15 minutes here, 45 minutes there, wait for the glue to dry...I feel like a kid, and that ain't bad folks.  Enjoy what ya got!

My trains are priceless, as several other folks here have already commented.  The infinite joy my 2065 locomotive by Lionel has brought me since I was 4 years old can not be attached to a monetary measurement.  Since getting back into the hobby almost 20 years ago, my trains have not only given me countless hours of relaxation and joy, they have also introduced me to other hobbies too ... such as writing stories and photography.  

Since re- entering this great hobby, I've amassed a collection of over 40 engines, 180 plus freight cars, and 40 plus passenger cars, buildings, bridges, etc.  AND I run all my trains, regardless of their collector value ( imagined or projected ).   I've never seen a hearse pulling a trailer with a model train layout on it ( although that might be a humorous project to model ... lol ) so I enjoy my trains to the max while I'm still here to do so.  I also find great enjoyment in sharing my layout by having visitors come by.  

My trains can still spark my imagination just as they did when I was a kid.  For all this ...  there is no price tag.

Last edited by trumptrain
@Tom Densel posted:

Somewhere between priceless and worthless. Depends who you ask...My wife, my kids or my granddaughter.

Yes; if you're selling they are priceless to you on your table and if you are buying them they seem to diminish in value on someone else's table.

However, I find the value in them to be high as the building of models provides me with both entertainment and challenges, and then a bit of relief and distraction from the rest of the world.

Last edited by mwb
@Chuck242 posted:

For a while, most of what I have was family owned from the 50's, I was the youngest and had a Scout set.  Now, 70 some odd years later I am still purchasing what I like, still have all of the old stuff and recently got into Tin Plate.  As was said in an earlier post, this is money gone, sunk, but the restful time spent doing things with these toys of ours is priceless.  Working on that darn plastic kit-bashed overpass for days now, 15 minutes here, 45 minutes there, wait for the glue to dry...I feel like a kid, and that ain't bad folks.  Enjoy what ya got!

My wife and I used to attend many, many movies (in person at a theater) a number of years ago - lots o' pleasure with virtually nothing to show for it. Now I buy trains which also provide pleasure, and at least have something to show for the $ spent!!

George

I just saw a list of things that the next generation does not want to inherit.

Along with beanie babies, china and silverware was model trains.

Only heard of one model RR remaining intact with the new home owner joining in the swap meets as a brand new old 0 scaler.

While working there were quite a few times  that real estate agents contracted with me to dispose of remaining layouts.  Mostly HO, some PW, mostly dumpster grade.

Last edited by Tom Tee

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