Monday, February 12, 2007

Catalogs And The Magic Of Tinplate Toy Trains

"There are many today who would say definitely that the model railroad hobby of, say, 1923 to 1927 was more interesting and pleasant than the hobby of today, due not to any fault of today's hobby and hobbyists, but to a certain warm nostalgic glow that always surrounds the memory of pleasant things. One has only to look back over a file of Ives, American Flyer, Dorfan, Lionel, Boucher and Bing catalogs from 1920 to 1930 to recapture this feeling. Certainly the catalogs have changed, and in changing have lost much of their friendly attitude, and many favorite features which were once characteristic of every good tinplate catalog; pictures of the interior and exterior of the factory, the story of the company, pages devoted to technical information, features of the line, suggestions etc. These things might well come back to our catalogs. There has been a slight trend in this direction in the last few years, and Tinplaters are hoping for the best." - The one and only Louis H. Hertz, in "Riding The Tinplate Rails" p. 144, (1944)

Ah, that "warm, nostalgic glow," captured for sure in the great tinplate catalogs of the 1920's, but, contrary to Mr. Hertz's hopes, sadly missing in most of today's toy train catalogs. I think that some of the catalogs of the immediate postwar era have charm. I enjoy looking at the Lionel and AF catalogs of the 40s and 50s that I drooled over as a youngster. But today, with toy train production offshore, there's no hope of seeing pictures of the interior and exterior of the factories, and we wouldn't relate to them even if we saw them. However, I will give Mike Wolf credit for his Tinplate Traditions catalogs, where you do get the story of the company as well as an acknowledgement of what went before in the descriptions of his modern tinplate reproductions. I've begun to collect these Tinplate Traditions catalogs. I think Lou Hertz would approve of them.


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