For generations the name was as closely associated with Christmas as Santa Claus

Around 1900, when electrified toy trains were in their infancy, a battery-powered railroad car appeared in the show window of Robert Ingersoll’s novelty store on Cortlandt Street in downtown Manhattan. It wasn’t intended as a toy. Rather, the little car that tirelessly circled its loop of track was meant to draw attention to the other items on display.

A rapturous recipient of both freight and passenger sets powered by GG1 locomotives, as pictured in the company’s 1948 catalogue.
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Lionel’s 10 Greatest

A roster of the company’s most desirable products

One prominent Lionel enthusiast and collector, Michael Shames, thinks these are the company’s greatest classics.

1. 20th Century Limited set: This set first appeared in the 1931 catalogue with a 400E steam locomotive, tender, and three passenger cars, each of which carried the name of a state. Read more »

How To Catch A Train

You can buy a handsome vintage Lionel car for less than $100 today, but many desirable engines and sets sell for four-figure prices. Occasionally something soars much higher. This past autumn Stout Auctions, which specializes in toy and model trains, sold a superb example of the Lionel 20th Century Limited set characterized by cream trim around the windows of its four green cars, a great rarity. The buyer paid $253,000, in part because the set included not only the box for each piece but also the carton in which they were originally packed.Read more »