Sunday, September 18, 2005

Ralston Today....

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.....



Anonymous said...

What I do is usually start with a slush fund. I save all of the loose $1 and $5 dollar bills in my pocket at the end of the day along with any change. I deposit that regularly into a separate checking account about once a week and that usually adds up pretty well.

When something appears in a catalog that I want to order I will usually cough up a deposit of my own will. The goal, so far so good, is to have the thing payed off when it arrives. (A bit of a reverse lay away.)

This has worked well for me and kept me from making too many impulse purchases. Right now my heart is set on finding an old 402E or 408E to restore. I can't afford to pay more than about $250 but I keep hoping. lol



Dave said...

Well, York has always been notorious for insane prices. Where these people get some of these numbers is what I'd like to know, followed by how they justify them. If you feel you get a better deal at Mauers, then thats where you should go. I have not tried Mauers yet so I really cannot honestly comment on which is better, York or Mauers. I do know that the selection at York is varied, with more average to poor condition stuff at EX or better prices a common occurance. Then when something truly EX comes alone, the seller gets a bout with insanity hoping to snare a pigeon. But given the odds, you have a better chance at finding what you need at York compared to Mauers. I found myself the last two Yorks with feelings of intrepedation. Last spring I wasn't even going to go, and had tossed my pre-paid ticket in the trash only to pull it out the Saturday of York and taking a drive because the wife was ill. I ended up with a EX in the box Baby State set for a fairly reasonable price. This fall, I only went with the intention of buying parts as I was in the middle of two restorations and needed to keep the costs down by saving on shipping and hopefully getting a quantity discount. Both of which happened and I still paid out $850. My wife bought one car for us for Christmas for $200. That was our only train purchase, and we came home with well over half of what we went with. As far as saving up, unless you have a reasonable amount of disposable income, you have no other choice. This is particularly true with Standard Guage as it doesn't come cheap. I recall my earler days of collecting when I was a lot younger and struggling with an average paying job. I would take my weekly $20 allownace and put it in an old cigar box and if I was good, and consistent, I ended up with about $300 for York. Even back then that didn't buy much, and I eventually switched interests to American Flyer S as I could afford it. As far as the internet goes, I don't really see too much more on e-bay than I do at most shows. My local shows were fairly poor years ago, and they are still poor. So e-bay has actually opened up opportunities for me to buy things I was not finding at local shows at all, or at York with insane prices attached. Now, they have gone and messed with York scheduling. I think this was a big mistake. The only people with the ability to take off for a week to be able to attend the bandit meets and York on Fridays and Saturdays were big dealers and people with money. The bandit meets let them snatch up any decent deals that showed up, but amongst themselves. Now with Thursday selling, you have the same people snapping up all of the deals long before any ordinary buyers are able to get off work and attend, and its been made even easier by TCA for the dealers and people with money to clean up leaving the average guy with nothing but high prices. If they wanted a longer meet, they should have added Sunday instead. There are other means of getting into Standard depending on how you feel about re-issues. I have no problem with Lionel re-issues, but they are hard to find these days. MTH makes some nice stuff,and its priced right if you don't care who made it. I do, so MTH stuff will sit for someone else. I'd rather buy original junkers and restore them. That way I get the item cheap, I experience the enjoyment of restoring the item, then I can enjoy using the item, and its original Lionel. I've just picked up a lot of Standard containing a busted up 10 electric, and two 1835E steamers. The steamers were in horrible shape, or so it seemed. But one ended up being a diamond in the rough, and aside from needing a frame was in excellent original condition. As a bonus, it was an early version that came out in 1934 with the two tone blue 309 series cars. I'm now looking for those cars. The other 1835E was a total basket case. It needed every cast part, both trucks, all valve gear, the tender truck wheels and axels and a variety of other parts that were destroyed by rust or rot. Most people would have left it for scrap. It is now fully restored and running on my layout. I have a PowerPoint Presentation of the whole process, if the Blog owner wanted to put it out there for folks to look at. Above all else, find out what works for you, and do that. Enjoy Standard Gauge, its hard not to.

Standard Gauge Blogger said...

I'd absolutely love to see a post of your restoration efforts. I like your thinking! Send it to my email address and I will make sure it gets up!