Postwar Lionel Trains
Postwar Lionel Trains
Postwar Lionel Trains
Lionel Trains are Generally separated into to main collecting categories, Pre-war and Post-war. While the largest quantity of trains were made after 1970, those are usually not very high on the collectable scale except for some models. For a friendly guide to identifying the scale train you have go to my identification page.
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Here a Sample of Lionel Locomotives both Prewar and Post war.
Here is a terrific Set of Lionel Union Pacific Streamline Trains made from 1934-41.
Joshua Lionel Cowen was an inventive guy and had always been very interested in trains. When he was seven, he whittled a miniature locomotive from wood. It exploded, however, when he tried to fit it with a tiny steam engine. Joshua had never forgotten his childhood experiment. Years later, he fitted a small motor under a model of a railroad flatcar, and the electric train was born. He gave his middle name to the invention, and called his product, which at first consisted of the electric flatcar and thirty feet of track, the Lionel train. It cost six dollars.
Cowen designed his first train, the Electric Express, not as a toy, but as an eye-catching display for toy stores. During Lionel's early days, Americans were captivated by the railroads and awed by electricity, still a rarity in many homes. Lionel's first trains were powered by wet-cell (acid-filled!) batteries, soon replaced by the 110-volt electric transformer. By 1906, with the introduction of preassembled track and a selection of engines and cars, the Lionel we know today was already taking shape.
Lionel trains proved to be very popular, and before long Joshua Cowen was manufacturing cattle cars, coal cars, passenger cars, train stations, and tunnels. It was 1910. Electric trains had become a big business.
1901 Electric Express, the first electrical Lionel train, begins production as an animated store-window display device. Track gauge is 2 7/8" between the outside rails.
1902 First Lionel catalog issued; sixteen pages, in
black and white.
1906 Three-rail track system introduced by Lionel, replacing two-rail 2 7/8" gauge track. The new track system will eventually be termed "Standard Gauge" by Cowen.
1930 Lionel introduces porcelain-steel electric range for girls. The $30 "toy" actually worked but was soon discontinued as Depression worsened.
1934 Priced at only $1 for Depression-era families in need of inexpensive yet fun playthings, the Lionel Mickey & Minnie mechanical handcar helps reinvigorate Lionelís financial position.
1942 The Lionel "paper train" is produced during the holiday season. Essentially paper dolls shaped like Lionelís product, the paper train is tough to assemble but fills a void until Lionel can return to its first art, the creation of the worldís most legendary electric trains.
1959 Lionelís financial position worsens. In a shocking turn of events, Joshua Lionel Cowen sells his interest in The Lionel Corporation to an investment group headed by Roy Cohn, thus ending the Cowen era at Lionel.
1986 After many owners in the last 36 years, a number of groups consider the revered toy-maker, but the ultimate winner of Lionel is Wellspring Associates, an investment firm headed by Martin Davis of Gulf+Western and Paramount Communications fame, investment specialist Greg Feldman, and musician Neil Young.
1996 Lionel issues its first fully-illustrated catalog in more than 30 years.
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