Friday, December 08, 2006

Lionel's 10 Greatest?

The December issue of American Heritage magazine contains an article entitled "Lionel: The Greatest Gift" penned by David Lander. Mr. Lander writes a column titled "The Buyable Past" for the American history oriented magazine. I picked up a copy of the issue so I could take a look at the Lionel article. I'm not a regular reader of this particular magazine, but I must say that there is quite a lot of interesting reading contained in this issue.

The Lionel article is a pretty good capsule history of the firm much like others that have appeared in print. There are some interesting photographs including one of Mr. Cowen showing off a 2-7/8" gauge piece to a youngster. One of the more interesting items in the article is a side bar listing "Lionel's 10 Greatest - A Roster Of The Company's Most Desirable Products" as selected by a collector named Michael Shames. Mr. Shames considers the 10 greatest Lionel products to be: The 20th Century Limited Set; The Blue Comet Set; The 400E loco; The Santa Fe four car set; The GG1; the 700E; The Hellgate; The 840; The 444; and finally, the 921 three piece terrace set.

I can't quibble with too many of Shames' picks, but in a few cases I think I'd make some substitutions. For example, I'd rather have a brass #7 than a 921 terrace set. And of course, I'd rather have ANYTHING in 2-7/8" gauge than a Santa Fe set or a GG1. However, It's fun to compare notes with this list, and the article is worth a read, as is the rest of the issue. Look for a great picture of Jackie Gleason having a drink with Toots Shor, and read the capsule review of the new movie documentary about the famous New York club owner. Yes, this magazine has a lot of appeal to an aging baby boomer like me!

Jim Kelly


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