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....."


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

Standard Gauge Blogger said...

I am very open to the contribution of articles, info and pictures. Anything that has to do with standard gauge. The blog website give me tremendous flexibility and let's me publish out just about anything in whatever format I like or need.

Please contribute as much as possible!