The Lionel Manufacturing Company was founded in 1900, in New York City, by Joshua Lionel Cowen. Although the company originally specialized in lighting implements and battery operated fans; the invention of the steam locomotive in the early 1800’s was a major innovation in transportation and many people became avid train enthusiasts. Mr. Cowen was one of those enthusiasts and he produced his first model train as a way to draw attention to his toy store window. Within days the store had customers lining up asking if they could purchase the display model train.
Lionel Manufacturing Company ended up producing 12 more models of the “electric express”. They then began full production on the new line of Lionel trains, trains that used 110 volt electric transformers. By 1906, Lionel Manufacturing Company was producing pre-assembled tracks and several models of engines. The public loved the model trains and soon they were being mass produced with pressed tin and plastic. However, the models were not accurately scaled.
The demand for more detailed accurate models increased and Lionel began producing specialized models. The 1950’s were the golden years for Lionel Company; the train sets were on just about every child‘s wish list. In 1953, Lionel Manufacturing Company was the largest toy manufacturer in the world. Mature collectors and youths alike appreciated all the mechanical accessories available to add to your set, your tracks, and your village.
While the newest model trains out on the market use digital technology, many people love to collect the vintage Lionel trains. Some of the most sought after trains include: the 202 Union Pacific Alco (1957) and the 216 Burlington Alco Diesel A Unit (1958). The 216 Burlington Alco Diesel A Unit was only produced for one year and are difficult to find. The Burlington model trains are noted for their quality engines and lettered red paint and silver painted shell. The 202 Union Pacific Alco is most distinguished by its orange color, with black color used to letter its name on the train.
The PAST Antiques Marketplace has many varieties of Lionel Trains from many different years throughout the company’s long history. To see our full selection, visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.