Well I am not sure what highlites the Ralston Auction today will tout.... It wasn't a bad day for people that collect Classic Lionel Standard Gauge. The prices weren't too high at all and it looked like they had a decent selection of some key items.
Most of the gear in the auction was late Postwar Lionel. If you were in the market for it than it was really a great auction but the prices for the Postwar stuff made standard gauge look cheap (in some instances). The Bing Trains seemed to go for really big bucks. I can see why, they are impressive things, old looking yet toylike and detailed. They capture a mixture of interesting characteristics; antique, European, sophisticated. Very cool stuff.
I still don't know if I am going to York or not, I do want to go to some of the Maurer auctions before the end of the year. The high prices and lack of comraderie or abundance of dollar competition seems to not be at Ted Maurers auctions. I enjoy them thoroughly, even if I don't walk away with diddly.
That brings me to another point and I would love to hear from my readers on this. We're walking into a tough Christmas season and I just don't have as much to spend on trains this year or next as I have in the past. With gas prices going up and the cost of living generally going up, my train dollars are dwindling mighty fast. Do I go to York or take my chances at some great auctions with Ted Maurer? How do you all budget for trains (or is budgeting for trains almost stupid, you just ram them in the checkbook somewhere?). Usually about this time of year people get an itch to sell standard gauge or 2 7/8 or Prewar O. But I just haven't seen it. Not any good stuff at least.
That brings me to something else I am going to wonder about out loud. Has eBay started to kill local markets for trains? People seem more anxious to sell to a global audience now than just at a plain old train meet where they take their chances. A friend of mine who owns an antique store can't remember when business was so bad as it seems to be now. He said that if he didn't sell through eBay he'd be outta luck.
Kind of funny, I was reading through a TCA Quarterly from the early 1990's and there was an article lamenting the lack of internet presence of toy train companies. I wonder if it has gotten much better. Lionel and MTH's websites are fair to ok. MTH's website has absolutely crawled lately and there are actual HTML errors in it. Lionel's gets updated at least once a month. Who'd of thought that eBay would pop up and create a 24 by 7 global train show 365 days per year. I'm still not so sure it's a good thing, the jury is still way out.
I also noticed something else in the Quarterly - a list of names of people that had passed away. Specifically lots of people with the letters CM in front of the membership ID. I started to look through all of the Quarterly's. I began thinking that maybe I should spend a little less time thinking about getting my hands on trains and a little more time scribing down the thoughts, ideas and experiences of some of my elders. Our hobby is based almost solely on word of mouth. I was born in the 60's and I can tell you I'm no spring chicken. Regardless of whether you belong to a train club or not, maybe you should sit down and take some notes from your Dad, Uncle or crazy train neighbor about how they met Josh Cowen or got that first train in the summer of 1939. We are in a dangerous time, not because trains are scarce or expensive or whatever but because we risk the loss of knowing how they got here and where they came from. Or why.
Just a thought.....