Marklin Model Trains
Märklin model trains are collectible models manufactured by the German toy company, Gebr. Märklin & Cie. GmbH.
History & Description
The company was established in 1859 in Göppingen in Baden-Wurttemberg, southern Germany. Although today it is synonymous with model trains and technical toys, originally the company specialised in doll houses.
Noting that model trains had the potential to be just as lucrative as doll houses, in 1891 the company manufactured its first model trains on an extendable track. While there were already toy trains that ran on rails, Märklin’s success lay in the ability of offering a track system that could be added to piece by piece. This new line defined the standard 1-5 gauge and was introduced at the Leipzig Toy fair.
The company created several of the most common model railroad scales such as the O gauge, introduced between 1895 and 1901, the H0 scale in 1935 and in 1972 it created the diminutive Z scale.
Guide for collectors
Märklin model trains are frequently sold through national auction houses and are also regularly advertised on eBay.
Collectors should look out for limited edition model trains released between 1890 and 1910 as these command the highest prices at auction. The live steam powered trolley cars, although not a success when first released, are extremely rare and it is believed that only a handful have survived. In addition, the first model trains produced in the late-nineteenth century for the American market – such as the American Eagle and P.R.R. – are very desirable to collectors.
Notable auction sales
On March 19th 2009 at Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, New Jersey, a rare toy depiction of a clown train car, circa 1909, realised a price of $90,000.
On November 20th 2004 at Noel Barrett in Carversville, Pennsylvania:
• A Gauge II American Eagle passenger set, circa late-nineteenth century, realised a price of $65,000.
• A Gauge II P.R.R. passenger set realised a price of $15,000.
On April 13th 2008 at Noel Barrett, a Gauge I live steam powered trolley car, circa 1900, realised a price of $37,500.
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