Am I the only one who has found that, as one's years of collecting progress, what is of interest tends to be in earlier and earlier trains. I started out all enamoured of Classic Era trains, with their bright colors and shiny brass and nickel. But now, the prewar stuff...and I mean pre WW I, is what rings my bell.
I bought this little set last Fall up in Allentown. I needed to tumble the wheels and trucks and re-wire the loco, but to my eye this Lionel Manufacturing Era set is full 0f charm. The cars are illuminated with a reproduction lighting set made by Joe Mania.
This is set No. 52, made 1913 to 1920..with a No. 53 Square Cab loco pulling cars No. 180, 181, and 182. This particular set, which just came out of storage after decades, is a little unusual because the loco reverse plate is stamped MFG, but it has a late production strap headlight, which is less common. Two of the three cars are embossed MFG. It's probably a transitional set...ca. 1917 or 1918.