Toy trains often become family heirlooms, handed down from one generation to the next. This is an especially nice tradition because the nature of toy trains is such that each generation can add something to the toy train, whether it is something for the train, like a new car, or something for the layout like new landscaping. Toy trains are something the family can build on.
Sometimes family members want to keep the entire layout looking like it is all from the same era. If the train has been around for a long time that might mean that the family will have to look for antique toy trains.
There are a number of ways you can go about looking for an antique toy train. Some people comb estate sales. While some great deals are found here it is not the easiest way to look for an antique toy train. It can be difficult to confirm the age and condition of the train before the estate sale begins. It is not always possible to determine if the train is in good working order until after you have finished bidding on it.
It is not uncommon to find a nice antique train set at an antique store. Even if the store doesn’t have the antique toy train that you are looking for it doesn’t hurt to talk to the proprietor. They might be able to find the train you are looking for. Leave your contact information with them, and write down exactly what you are looking for.
Some antique toy train collectors comb the flea markets. While some collectors do stumble upon the rare diamond in the rough, most of the trains that show up at the flea markets are in really rough shape.
Lots of toy train collectors go to auctions. Lots of times auctioneers will wait until they have several toy trains and then hold a special toy train auction. Hoping to generate publicity, auctioneers generally mail postcards or post notices, listing the various types of trains they have available. For extremely rare, expensive trains, large corporations hold high end auctions.
The Internet is an incredibly useful tool for locating and purchasing antique toy trains. There are loads of toy train dealers who have websites that list the types, and kinds, and prices of toy trains that they have available for purchase. Many of these same dealers also have toy train stores listed on EBay. Buying trains through dealers that specialize in toy trains is a good way to ensure that the toy train will arrive in exactly the condition that was promised. Dealers that are members of the Train Collectors Association (TCA) have a reputation of taking pride in the toy trains they sell.
Before you purchase an antique toy train know exactly what you want it for.
If you are looking for a train that is just for display then you will want to make sure that it looks like it is in pristine condition, that the paint is scratched or chipped, that there aren’t any dents in the casing, if its a wooden toy train make sure that wood hasn’t splintered or warped. If you are purchasing the train on-line ask to see several pictures of the toy train from several different angles. If possible try to get the dealer to guarantee the condition of the antique toy train.
If you are planning to add the train to an already working layout, make sure the antique toy train you are about to purchase is in good working order. If the antique toy train includes a transformer make sure the transformer works.
If you are still having trouble finding an antique toy train consider joining a collectors club, or attending swap meets.