A friend passed away earlier this year and our train club is working to help the estate sell the very large O scale collection. 

A few of us had worked for many years on getting the O scale layout built and running - looking forward to running nights. The owner traveled a bit to many O scale meets and collected a massive collection of O scale freight cars of many era's; from Weaver and Atlas more recent O scale to early built up wood and plastic kits and many brass freight cars. There is a large fleet of O scale steam engines in display cabinets many of the bigger engines in brass; road names from all over North America. 

Any thoughts on moving O scale or what the market is like for older brass steam engines and cars?

Original Post
kj356 posted:

Any thoughts on moving O scale or what the market is like for older brass steam engines and cars?

If you attend the March Meet in Chicago, you'll be able to get a 1st hand look at what this sort of stuff sells for as there are generally 2-5 estates being sold there every year.

http://www.marchmeet.net/

 


There are many mysteries in this universe, big and small. Like, why do clowns make us laugh? Why do we love puppy dogs? And why, why do little blue midgets hit me with fish?

Cold wet blanket of estate sales reality:

If all the stars align, in my experience, I may net 25 to 35 cents on the dollar.  That does not factor in all the leg work.  If you want to reduce the net proceeds get a few tables at some train shows.  Maybe even stir in some travel expenses.  No one is impressed by the surviving family's needs.

Read the obits, the model train consumer market is shrinking moment by moment.  Anything is only valued at what someone will pay for it.   There seems to be more talking about purchases than the actual buying.  Newbys will frequently overpay for product then resent the seller after acquiring knowledge.

The cleanest thing to do is to have someone come in and buy the lot in one fell swoop.  A local merchant is currently paying 20 cents on the dollar for 0 scale equipment if you bring it in to his place of business.   And they are taking a big chance at that rate!  

Most HO stuff winds up in the trash, some HO pieces can move for lunch money.

From my experience, it can take years to move each and every individual item from an estate.  I am hesitant to ever do it again.

 Maybe consider selling off the popular big ticket items then blow out the balance.  Selling one or two $20.00 car(s)  at a time is a giant waste of time IMO.

The depreciation experienced in driving a new vehicle off the dealers lot is a bargain compared with  train purchases IME.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

Tom Tee posted:

Cold wet blanket of estate sales reality:

If all the stars align, in my experience, I may net 25 to 35 cents on the dollar.  That does not factor in all the leg work.  If you want to reduce the net proceeds get a few tables at some train shows.  Maybe even stir in some travel expenses.  No one is impressed by the surviving family's needs.

All too true, and recognizing that reality helps a seller to move stuff out the door all the better knowing the objective is a balance between making it all go away as opposed to scrapping for every penny.


There are many mysteries in this universe, big and small. Like, why do clowns make us laugh? Why do we love puppy dogs? And why, why do little blue midgets hit me with fish?

I don't know, I see brass stuff on the Bay periodically, and it seems to sell, if priced right. Too expensive for me, but the items seem to get bids. It does get tedious selling large numbers of items, though. Listing, keeping track of sales, packing, shipping - it all takes a lot of time unless there's more than one person doing it. It's certainly tempting to contact an auction house and see what they offer.

breezinup posted:

............it seems to sell, if priced right.

There's a lesson right there,   I see the same guys at the meets year after year with the same stuff on their tables that have not learned that lesson.  Their heirs might.....


There are many mysteries in this universe, big and small. Like, why do clowns make us laugh? Why do we love puppy dogs? And why, why do little blue midgets hit me with fish?

With the ever changing demographics of the model train hobby, the market is presently flooded with trains of all types. This is unlikely to change. Prices of used and even NIB older items have declined but like most I stay in the hobby for the fun of it while realizing that my collection is not an investment.

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

mwb posted:
breezinup posted:

............it seems to sell, if priced right.

There's a lesson right there,   I see the same guys at the meets year after year with the same stuff on their tables that have not learned that lesson.  Their heirs might.....

My club presents a train sale/show the end of January. Last year I noticed that everyone's table looked nicer and neater than mine. Folks commented that my prices were low - giveaway prices they said.

At the end of the day my table was almost empty. The other tables still looked nice - and still full.

RoyBoy

RoyBoy posted:
Last year I noticed that everyone's table looked nicer and neater than mine. Folks commented that my prices were low - giveaway prices they said.

At the end of the day my table was almost empty. The other tables still looked nice - and still full.

Well, it depends on how much you want to lose. If you put "free" on your items, your table probably would have been completely empty.   

If I wanted to sell at give-away prices, I wouldn't bother paying for tables and spending hours standing around at a train show dealing with bottomfeeders. I don't do shows anymore. Auction sites are better, I've found.

My advice is sell as a whole package. If you let a buyer cherry pick the good stuff, you will end up giving the rest away to unload it.

2 cents

PS: a member of the flying club I belong to traded his collection for a new pickup truck that listed for about $60k. I think he came out much better than trying to sell it off piece by piece.

USMC 1966-69

kj356 posted:

A friend passed away earlier this year and our train club is working to help the estate sell the very large O scale collection. 

A few of us had worked for many years on getting the O scale layout built and running - looking forward to running nights. The owner traveled a bit to many O scale meets and collected a massive collection of O scale freight cars of many era's; from Weaver and Atlas more recent O scale to early built up wood and plastic kits and many brass freight cars. There is a large fleet of O scale steam engines in display cabinets many of the bigger engines in brass; road names from all over North America. 

Any thoughts on moving O scale or what the market is like for older brass steam engines and cars?

I'd look to a specialty site such as Brasstrains or TRAINZ or Stout Auctions.  You need somewhat of an accurate appraisal of the values of the pieces you have.

I'm not a seller of brass but one thing I can tell you over the past 30 years of collecting it by the hundreds is that the market is small BUT for QUALITY brass  the prices hold some of their value.

Freight cars are my specialty.   US hobbies cars may fetch $50-100 if you are lucky.  Precision scale MAY fetch  $100-250 retail and ones currently in demand (think Pacific Limited) fetch from $200 to $400 average.    Remember, the original list price for many items back in the day were, for example, a $40 retail USH car or a $199 list price older Pac Limited car. 

Some locomotives fetch thousands of dollars where a nice pristine condition US Hobbies or Max Gray steam locomotive struggles to fetch a few hundred bucks.    And it's cyclical.  One day it's a few hundred bucks, the next one to show up sells for a grand.

I do know that there is a glut of brass on the market and some is a slow seller.   But for quality brass there is still a market.  A good rule of thumb - the more accurate and the more highly detailed, the more it fetches.   And a pristine undecorated piece fetches more than a crappy painted piece. 

Looking at older John Clemens/Brass roundhouse list price sheets (a retailer) is a good indication of where brass came from.  Some pieces may have depreciated pretty steeply but many remain stable or have appreciated.   Remember, it's a hobby not an investment.

And as stated earlier, ignore anyone who wants to cherry pick.  You'll be stuck with nothing but the unsalable if you don't know the market. 

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

In 2015-2016, I sold a collection for a good friend's family after he passed.  

You can try the auction houses, but depending on how much of a backlog they have, it could be a year or longer before they can get to selling the stuff, if they are even able to sell it all at once.  I know I spoke to one auctioneer at the time and he said he could not get to any new items for 12 months, and he was having an auction once a month at the time.  

If you decide to sell it yourself, like I did, plan on the process taking a while.  You also have to educate yourself on what things should sell for, because as others have said, you have to price it appropriately.  I also learned that one should consider all offers and accept many, especially if you have a large collection to sell.  I know I turned down an early offer on a piece of Modern Lionel at the beginning of the process, because I was lead to believe it should go for more.  Many months later, I accepted a lower price on the item, from the same individual.  

The collection I sold was a mix of pre-war, post-war, and modern, and books, etc., all in various conditions.  I am lucky as I live in the Chicago area and the Great Midwest Train Show is held monthly at the Dupage County Fairgrounds, so I had a regular show to sell at.  Prior to going to any show, I networked with friends and people I knew through trains and sold several things.  I also took certain items to the TCA show in York, PA, both in the fall of 2015 and the spring of 2016.  

Networking at the beginning of the process and the York show proved great for selling some of the more collectible items at the beginning of the process and I sold about 20% of the net proceeds through networking and 33% of the net proceeds of the collection during the York week, as I sold at one of the early shows and the main show.  At some point I was left with a lot of very mediocre trains and at one of the local Great Midwest Train Shows, I had a $5 and $10 sale.  I unloaded over $1,100 of stuff that day, all at $5 or $10 per item.  Selling the books was a process, as some were relatively desirable and sold for decent money, but others were eventually priced at 3 for $5.  When I finally got near the end of the books and they were not selling any more, I donated about a box of books and other miscellaneous items to Goodwill, as they are heavy to drag around, especially when not selling.

I ended up selling the collection over a period of 12 months.  

That being said, I am not sure I would do it in today's market, which is significantly different than it was only 3 - 4 years ago.

There is always the other side of the coin!  You get to go to train shows and your wife thinks you're doing a good deed for a departed friend!    Worst thing you can do is to set the expectation to high for the surviving family.  They need to know up front all of the great issues that have said here already.  Selling a friends collection is always hard emotionally as well.  Russ

ChiloquinRuss posted:

  Selling a friends collection is always hard emotionally as well.  Russ

I know. I sold off my father-in-law's stuff.  Some went easy and some not easy, but it all did go away.

And, that's another variable here - need to realistically balance max. sale price vs. and objective of making it all go away.  Sadly, reality does intrude and all that "valuable" stuff generally really isn't.


There are many mysteries in this universe, big and small. Like, why do clowns make us laugh? Why do we love puppy dogs? And why, why do little blue midgets hit me with fish?

mwb posted:
ChiloquinRuss posted:

  Selling a friends collection is always hard emotionally as well.  Russ

I know. I sold off my father-in-law's stuff.  Some went easy and some not easy, but it all did go away.

And, that's another variable here - need to realistically balance max. sale price vs. and objective of making it all go away.  Sadly, reality does intrude and all that "valuable" stuff generally really isn't.

Thus why knowledgeable assistance is good with items of varying value.   Like O scale brass trains.

Why give away a high value Pacific Limited car that can sell for $400 just because most all the other older brass cars are are worth $25 to $50?

Even plastic cars.  Yep many are worth $20 or less but just what if he has that Natty Boh Atlas reefer that's worth a few hundred bucks?  A peek at Stout auctions shows what is seemingly junky Lionel 64xx boxcars (the Pillsbury one) with peeling decals that went for over a grand.  

Being knowledgeable is more important than being realistic in price expectations.   You have many chances to lower prices if you're unrealistic and they don't sell.  None to raise them if you get ripped off.

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

My opinion presented absolutely scot free here and surely....worth everything you are paying for it!......I am President Of the Pittsburgh Antique Radio Society and that market is in the EXACT same condition. So I suspect that this is a generalized condition for all the men's hobbies.

A consignment store charges 50% of the actual sale price--that's standard. Big-lot buyers plan to pay 25% of the estimated current street value. But they don't want the lot if it has been cherry-picked. The cherries are KEY to reimbursing them for their risk. For radios, I send large estate folks to an Oho auction house that specializes in radio estates. A family can realizes 30-35% of current market value. in one of their auctions. 

As a general rule you can count on, the hard goods resale markets in any geographic area all follow the local real estate market. If it's up, then hobby sales results are up. If it's down, then hobby sales results are down. BUT and however resale values for hobby goods rise slowly and drop VERY FAST. So it's useful to be ahead of the real estate curve if you can swing it. 

A recent issue of MR magazine had a last-page Tony Koester article that talked about putting a USE BY date on our hobby purchases. I found that very persuasive and I plan to pass that along to my radio club as a good idea for radios too.

Last note....the top-line "collector gold" stuff will remain gold. The value of that stuff will remain strong. But even just below that line, stuff in the "almost gold" category will quickly become unsellable at prices that you would want to accept if the market turns down. All of us need to get our money's worth in FUN or just pleasure in looking at our collections or in the hunt for something elusive. Because it seems unlikely that we will get our money back out of most of our hobbies.

All the best!

Don

Don M.

If you turn it over to the professionals at the auction houses it will more than likely be completely gone quicker than you can do it yourself.  You will also avoid a situation where in nine or ten months one of the children or grand children approach you with, "I know you're stealing some of this."  How much time and running around and accounting are you willing to donate to the heirs?  Right now it may look easy. But if it were easy there would be no need for auction houses.  What percent of the estate are the trains and does it really matter if the liquidation brings 65%, 45% or 25%?  John in Lansing, ILL

rattler21 posted:

What percent of the estate are the trains and does it really matter if the liquidation brings 65%, 45% or 25%?  John in Lansing, ILL

Real wisdom here.  I don't understand either of the two extremes:  "We MUST get every dime back that was paid for this stuff and even more" OR "Just toss that junk in the dumpster."  If the family realizes 10 cents on the dollar, that is still more money than they had before.  And throwing it away borders on criminal:  somebody out there can use.  Maybe, those people can't pay enough for the family to retire on, but they can pay something.  Even giving the stuff away is more desirable than throwing it away.

When a modeler has passed on, the models are worth nothing to him.  

I suspect that much of the anxiety of selling prices is pride:  how can my great stuff be worth so little?  Did it bring you years of satisfaction or even joy in planning, building, and running it?  Consider that your profit, and let the stuff go.

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

Thoughts on a Saturday evening after today viewing Ford vs. Ferrari. 

If you want good results, go with the best.  Which auction house is the 'best'?  Hard to define but if you want to make an informed decision, see which ones have handled items like the ones in your friend's collection.  Does the auction house have a following of modelers who buy brass engines or is their following the middle of the pack modelers who have no use for nor the pocket book for brass? Or bottom feeders? Does the auction house deal in ubiquitous items or rare, upscale items?  The actual transaction/bidding procedure doesn't matter as much as their following. 

John in Lansing, ILL

This subject has been covered several times before at least on this forum, its refreshing to see the sensible replies taking into account the issues with selling stuff balancing effort against reward. 

Until a few years ago I had always assumed that my kids would benefit from the sale of my models, ranging from very high end to resin kits. It is now my honest belief that in 20-30yrs there is unlikely to be any residual value in any of it. Museums will be crammed with the stuff. 

I used to collect, I now have thinned stuff down to what I actually run, after all said and done how many favourite locomotives do you have, or really need.

The next downturn, and its coming, will see even more stuff on the market.

Enjoy your models for what they are, they are not an investment. 

As always, opinion.

Nick

 

Dear KJ356,

Since this is a O Scale 2 Rail collection I would recommend dealing with a O scale dealer to dispose of the members collection.

Bill Davis- American Scale Models- Wisconsin

Bob and Karen Lavezzi- New Jersey

Jack and Cheryl McGarry- Allegheny Scale Models- New Jersey

Norm Pullen- Norm's O scale - Maine

I also participated in the Stout Auction yesterday and won some/lost some pieces I bid on , but all in all, it appeared the auctions items did well, not a blow away.

I also see you live in Canada, so this could also present a logistical and possibly a tax issue taking the items across the border into the USA if you were to take them to a 2 Rail train show since I know of no 2 Rail scale show in Canada.

FWIW,

John P.Dunn Sr. Scale2Rail Promotions

 

 

Limey posted:

This subject has been covered several times before at least on this forum, its refreshing to see the sensible replies taking into account the issues with selling stuff balancing effort against reward. 

Until a few years ago I had always assumed that my kids would benefit from the sale of my models, ranging from very high end to resin kits. It is now my honest belief that in 20-30yrs there is unlikely to be any residual value in any of it. Museums will be crammed with the stuff. 

The next downturn, and its coming, will see even more stuff on the market.

As always, opinion.

Nick

 

       Some pretty much dead on thoughts above by Nick.

The following of course, is also opinion. The biggest obstacle you will have is getting the objects of the sale to the buyer. Even if you use one of the many fine re-sellers listed by John Dunn, you have to get the stuff to them, so unless you deliver it, you will have to ship, and that is no easy process, and there is generally lag time with consignments. If you don't mind dealing with computers and shipping, don't overlook that BIG online auction.

The quickest, easiest way (again opinion) is to take all the stuff to one of the larger shows. Chicago March Meet, Indianapolis, O Scale West, The Brass Expo, Lancaster, PA to name a few. Take note that the re-sellers listed above attend some of these shows.

Good Luck!

Simon

kj356 posted:

A friend passed away earlier this year and our train club is working to help the estate sell the very large O scale collection. 

.......The owner traveled a bit to many O scale meets and collected a massive collection of O scale freight cars of many era's; from Weaver and Atlas more recent O scale to early built up wood and plastic kits and many brass freight cars. There is a large fleet of O scale steam engines in display cabinets many of the bigger engines in brass; road names from all over North America. 

Any thoughts on moving O scale or what the market is like for older brass steam engines and cars?

At The March Meet in 2018, two brothers brought their deceased father's collection.  They initially had six tables and when four tables were available in the same aisle, they got those, then two more.  Twelve 6' tables.  About 99% of the collection was in boxes and the boxes filled every table at least four high and in most instances higher than that.  The floor space under the tables had cartons and totes placed so the ends of the boxes could be seen.  Several experienced men helped the sons batch and price items to move.  Even with the big crowd with money in their hands, less than 20% of the items sold.  Even at good prices, there are only so many people who were looking for the items on the tables.  Over the week-end I heard more than a few attendees recommend the sons call Stout Auction and when everything was packed, drive the three hours to Westfield and let Stout handle it.  Sunday afternoon the sons packed the boxes in cartons and totes, loaded their trailer and headed home to St. Louis.  I don't know their plans, but a three hundred mile trip with at least two nights in a nice hotel, several meals and table rent isn't cheap. If they left with 80% of the items they have a long way to go.  How much is their time worth?  How many week-ends away from their families? How many show admissions to pay and tables to rent?  How many disappointments?  Sooner or later they are going to have to face reality and realize that even at $5 per box they would not have cleared their tables to individuals who did not plan to resell those items.  At least one individual mentioned in John Dunn's post was at The Meet and he would not have had room in his trailer for the collection if he bought it at 20% for resale.

John in Lansing, ILL

Not sure what the commission is but Stout commanded above average prices in every one of their auctions that I watched that had two rail brass in it.  From ho hum stuff to the collectible pieces.

Much better than anyone else, from this long time brass buyer's perspective.   

Only nice thing about an auction is that everything goes in one day.  No lingering, it goes away the day of auction.  

Probably the most fair and equitable way of disposing of an estate.  

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

rattler21 posted:

At The March Meet in 2018, two brothers brought their deceased father's collection. 

Yes, I bought a few things, but there's only so much one can put in the carry on when flying.

However, 90% of what they were selling would have been tossed in a dumpster by any auction house.  They were having a good party with moving stuff, talking to everyone, and I think generally happier than many other table holders.


There are many mysteries in this universe, big and small. Like, why do clowns make us laugh? Why do we love puppy dogs? And why, why do little blue midgets hit me with fish?

But that's the point.  If it is your estate, you have no say at all.  Auction houses are not in business to help estates; they are in business to make money.

My spouse is not happy with the idea of dealing with my stuff.  But when the time comes, I simply will not care - dumpster, Stout, a buddy - just get rid of it.  I guarantee it has all served its purpose.

eBaying stuff usually brings great prices.  The few train related items I have sold generally bring triple what I thought they were worth.  But what a hassle, packing, shipping, dealing with the occasional disgruntled purchaser - I don't wish that on anybody.

I didn't bid on several pieces in Stout auctions because I could not get a clear enough view of the car underframe or car end to determine the brake type (K or AB) or type of end (Dreadnaught, etc).    As a  buyer this is of primary importance to me in a high value auction (like the Seacrest one was).

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

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