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Trains from the Attic

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Trains From The Attic
How To Find Toy Trains.

When I first started collecting trains in the 1970s, Al Cox of Seattle was writing a column in the TTOS Bulletin called Out of the Woodwork. Every few months, Al would tell an interesting story about how he acquired different sets of trains. Al's article were very instrumental in my early collecting. As a child, I didn't spend hours pouring over train catalogs, I spent hours looking at pictures of train collections in the Bulletin and in the TCA Quarterly. There weren't any picture books about toy trains back then. Living in Arizona, there weren't very many local collectors to visit. Every year my father and I would go on a road trip to the TCA national convention. That was like heaven.

In 1977, I started running ads to find trains in the weekly classified papers like the Pennysaver and the Custom Shopper. Most of the calls I got were for junk, but there was usually a good set or two every week. I would set appointments to look at the trains, and then my father and I would go out once or twice a week and look at the trains. We would buy almost all of them. We would keep the ones we wanted for our collection and then trade or sell the extras. Now and then we think back on some of the stuff we got rid of with regret. Back then we only collected prewar Lionel. I would like to have the Dorfan, Ives, American Flyer, Marklin O gauge and all the other neat prewar stuff we traded away. But that was how we built the collection, and we still have all the neat Lionel stuff.

Now we are collecting prewar trains from all manufacturers. We started doing this because it became difficult to find Lionel stuff we didn't already have. We're collectors. We have to be buying new stuff, or we'd be hoarders.

Today all that has changed. There is a constant stream of interesting trains for sale on E-bay. And there are many books and magazines about toy trains. But for me the thrill of buying a toy train from an ad or from someone who heard about me is still tops. I never know what the people will have until I get to their door. It is kind of like Christmas, when I was a child. I knew there were presents downstairs under the tree. I just didn't know what they were until I opened them.

Hopefully you can learn some of the techniques we have been using to build our collection. All of these stories should give you ideas on how to find toy trains.

Because I always enjoyed reading Al's articles, I am going to place articles about some of my finds here on my website. If you would like to submit an article send me an e mail. The only requirement is the trains or toys must be interesting (to me at least), and be acquired from the public. I'll be lax about these requirements, if it's an interesting story.

Here is a list of the articles:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

If you would like to share an interesting story just drop me an e mail. with the story inside it. I will format it and add pictures if you can't take pictures.

Thanks for taking the time to look over my website,
Terry Gibbs

NOTE: You may incur income tax liability and have to get city or state permits for the sale of second hand goods if you engage in the buying and selling of toy trains. I am not making any recomendations about taxes or the legality of what is written in these articles. You should talk to your accountant or your local governement to find out what may be required within your area.

See my other web site to learn how to buy and sell collectibles