Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Into the eBay Stratosphere!

Check out this eBay item by clicking the link above. Here is the item description:

1932 Lionel 173E Scenic Railway Dealer Display Layout

I am sure the reserve is something well above $10k. I seem to remember this chap auctioning off some very rare dealer display for well over $30k (I could be wrong).

I will say this over and over - I don't think this is good for the hobby. I know it's a free market, I know there are folks with ultra-deep pockets that will pay high prices for these items. I think this kind of thing encourages speculation and a few less happy attributes this side of greed.

I know these are scarce items and I know that everyone would like to have them in their collection. Let me throw out a radical concept: you can make this entire layout today and get all of the trains and accessories on the open market! There, I said it. You don't need to spend thousands on something you can make better than Lionel did way back when.

I know I am going to rankle some rhubarbs when I say this kind of stuff however I just don't think this hobby is about $10k Blue Comet sets and $25k dealer displays. This kind of thing encourages bad behavior, namely knock-offs so close to the real thing that it is passed off as the real thing. And charging outrageous prices for items that aren't in mint condition (try buying a decent Leland Detroit Monorail).

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I am certainly not condemning the seller but I am concerned about the general impact on our hobby. What does this say to someone that loved trains as a kid, has a strong sense of community, loves his kids or grand kids and sees a $25k pricetag? Doesn't exactly make anyone want to run out and join the nearest train club. I know this kind of thing can be found anywhere, from $40k Harley Davidsons to a nice stamp or coin for $10k . If there is someone willing to pay, there is someone willing to sell.

Yet again, that old Sunday school saying resonates in my ears: "Just because it's legal, doesn't mean it's moral....."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

In our economic system, such seemingly out of whack prices for rarieties will be seen. I agree that you can build your own replica of such a rare display. My first standard gaughe layout was a fascimile of the Lionel #199 Scenic Railway.

Jim Kelly

Gilbert Ives said...

And whatever has become of "Tinplate Times"?

Anonymous said...

Gilbert Ives:

Tinplate Times was a joint volunteer effort and was paid for by Brad Kaplan and myself. After we published a few issues, Brad started a business and had to devote all of his time to it. I could not do the web site coding so the project is on hold until such time as I can find others interested in helping to fund and publish an online magazine dedicated to standard gauge tinplate.

JIm Kelly

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