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....."