American flyer trains are toy model trains that sell under the brand name, “American flyer’. These antiques have origins traceable to 1906. Some people collect these artistic pieces for sentimental values while some do so for resale. Whether you collect trains for passion or profit, it is important to be able to distinguish between the different train antiques and also identify the most valuable American Flyer trains.
Initially, there was immense fascination with trains among many. In the past such enthusiasm earned one a tag in the society. Today, train antiques continue to fetch a fortune in various marketing platforms. This phenomenon is worth studying to ascertain the viability of the antique market.
This article gives the History, identification and the valuation of American flyer trains for anyone who wants to collect antique American flyer trains. So let’s dive into this discussion on tips that will come in handy and help with mastering the art of collecting old American flyer trains.
The History of Antique American Flyer Trains
The idea of American Flyers came about in 1900, as the brainchild of William Hafner of Chicago, Illinois who went into the business of toy manufacture. Originally, the makers used tin-plate for their rolling engines and rolling stock, lithographing details on almost smooth surfaces. However, market forces of demand saw the manufacturers add more detail on its toy trains.
Later the manufacturer of the American flyer switched to the production of die-cast locomotives and cars, which were more realistic, but still basically just toy-like. Later on, American Flyer replaced its original passenger coaches with ones decorated in the Lionel style–enamel paint, brass window trim and name-plates. The Flyer S-gauge trains are the most popular among collectors; these are the series of aluminum-like diesels produced in the 1950s, especially those with streamlined passenger cars.
The 1950’s S Gauge were prestigious American Flyer trains of their day and still remain the most visually pleasing. Another popular locomotive is the 4-8-4 Northern steamer, also known as the “Challenger,” the biggest Flyer. When purchasing or selling a flyer train the Condition of the exterior of the trains counts a lot.
Alfred Gilbert, founder of Gilbert Company, a trained physician who opted to venture into the business of toy making, forming the Mysto Manufacturing Company. The company’s name was later changed to AC Gilbert company which sold erector sets and toy chemistry sets. However, the company would later collapse. Right before World War II, Gilbert revived the company by tapping into the emerging adult-hobbyist market, launching its own 3/16-inch scale (1:64) trains, which were about two-thirds the size of O-Gauge trains but ran on a three-rail O-Gauge track.
From a realistic perspective, American Flyer put out this line of tiny, high-quality, and highly detailed diecast train sets in 1939, These were led by the acclaimed Union Pacific 4-8-4 “the Challenger” Model 806. Like Lionel, Gilbert sent vast American Flyer train layouts and sets to department stores for their Christmas displays. In the 1950s, his company even made special displays for television shows like one hosted by Dave Garroway’s “Today” show, the shows main theme was that the Price is Right,” and another one dubbed the “American Bandstand.”
When Gilbert died in 1961, his son, Alfred Jr., took over the company, only to sell 52 percent of it to “Lassie” producer Jack Wrather. By 1966, American Flyer was sold to Lionel, which continued to produce popular American Flyer pieces like the Alco PA and the Electro-Motive GP7. To date Lionels products have continually been improved and sold in the market.
Old American flyer trains
American flyer vintage trains have been in existence for over a century. The trains vary in size, some little in size while others quite huge, are a source of joy in many households. The trains are valuable and are thus important items for sale.
Old American Flyers are sold on ebay, amazon and a number of online or physical auction sites. Some of the companies that have made a mark in the manufacture and distribution of these train antics include;
- American Flyer
- Mysto Manufacturing Company
- C Gilbert Company
In 1918, the market was already dominated by Lionel and Ives, American Flyer began producing electric locomotives and cast-iron O Gauge trains, using technology that had been developed 20 years earlier. Between 1920 and 1934, the company released many types of electric toy trains meant to resemble trains running in New England during that time. These trains were made out of steel that is lithographed or enameled steel, and cast iron.
The American Flyer train launched measures to enable it to compete with the Ives, Lionel, and Dorfan line of electric toy trains in 1925. These trains could run and were developed on Lionel’s standard Gauge tracks, which American Flyer named “Wide Gauge” (both were 2 1/8 inches between the rails). Marketed as “Wonder Trains,” American Flyer’s shiny, brightly colored train sets had patriotic names like “American Legion,” “President’s Special,” and “Mayflower.”
They were also extremely pricey for the 1920s. The cadmium-plated “Mayflower” set, for example, ran about $100, a full month’s salary for an average person. In 1926, the company joined up with Lionel to produce hybrid freight cars for a line featuring Lionel bodies on American Flyer trucks.
During the period of the Great depression, American Flyer was hit hard. This banter started in 1929—by 1932, American Flyer stopped manufacturing its Wide-Gauge line entirely. The company sold off its stores through 1936. Instead, it focused mostly on low-end O-Gauge toys, with the exception of its high-quality die cast New York Central Hudson, produced in 1936.
Are Old American Flyer Trains Worth Anything?
If you stumble on an American flyer train antique and think it may be worth something, what do you do? Foremost, you will have to Research the item and its worth, an antique appraiser may be valuable. Once you discover the worth, the next question is how to sell the item. Due to possible losses in Restoring the antique it’s preferable to sell it in original condition.
Historically, Boys have always had preference for the American flyer train for a toy. The American flyer trains was a popular brand of trains in America in the Mid-twentieth Century. The flyer toy trains would later be renamed S Scale trains.
The antique American flyer trains are an important replica of actual trains that were functional in America before large clockwork toy trains by companies like Lionel. Edmunds-Metzel Hardware Company made electric versions of these trains before rebranding to become known as the American Flyer.
Identifying Antique and Vintage American Flyer Trains
Every piece of the American flyer produced is emblazoned with a product number or the product name American flyer. The American pocket price guide has all details on American flyer products, explaining working of the trains and how much one can expect from a dealer. Thus, it is easy to identify an American flyer.
An American flyer train can be identified on the basis of;
- The brand name
- The manufacturer (American Flyer Manufacturing Co., A.C Gilbert Company and recently Lionel Corporation.
- The Model
Hot Tips for Identification and Valuation of American Flyer trains
How can you know the value of an American flyer antique train?
It is worth noting that American Flyer Antique train values fluctuate in value from time to time. There is therefore no standard pricing across all platforms.
Identify the Type of Train You Have
This is the first step in finding out the value of your American flyer antique train. Quick identification can be done through use of identification guides on the subject. These guides may be available at your local library. Most people use these guides once and hence it isn’t prudent to purchase one.
Use Gauge to Determine the Age
Gauge is an important means of identifying an American Flyer Antique train. This refers to the width of the track, from the inner edges of the rails. The Standard gauge is 2⅛-inches across. In the United States this was popular through the early 1900s up to the Depression and World War II. After this the gauge was 1¼-inches. Thus, your model train’s gauge width is one way to ascertain a train’s age.
Determine Your Train’s Brand and Rarity
Rarity can be useful in determining a train’s value. Some rare items have great market value; however, some aren’t sought after hence have no value though rare. Train collectors impact the values of the items that they collect through their varying preferences. The American flyer trains antiques make up one of the three top most brands collectors look out for generally. Trains greatly sought command top values at auction even if they weren’t creating trains as early as other manufacturers were.
The Train’s Condition
It is possible to know the value of the train by its physical condition. Thus assessing the train can help identify its value. Condition always plays an important role in evaluating the worth of any antique. Train sets with all parts intact will sell for more than broken incomplete sets. Those trains that are highly detailed in graphics and in good condition, are worth a fortune. Wear and tear on the paint, scratches, rust, and other defects negatively impact a train antic’s value.
Price Quotations from Online Retailers
The online market may give one hint as to the price to sell a flyer train antique. Prices on Websites like eBay can be accessed through use of search terms for your particular train. This will give an idea of what your car’s market value is. In many online shops these second hand toys sell from $10-$100, depending on their age, condition, and brand.
Materials it is made of
Materials a flyer is made of certainly affect the antique’s train values. Those made out of cast iron sell for more than newer toys made out of tin or aluminum.
Desirability or Demand
Any American Flyer train antique seller wants to have something that buyers are demanding for. This influences its value to the seller’s advantage. More so if it is rare, in excellent condition and from a known brand, that is always a win for both the collector and the buyer. A toy may be listed at a high price, but if it isn’t desirable by buyers, it ends up not finding a buyer or will ultimately be sold at way less.
History of Ownership
The History of ownership is important in any sale of a used or second hand item. It is important to know a cast iron toy’s history of ownership because it affects the toy’s value. If the toy was once owned by a maker or known individual, that inevitably raises its value, unless it is dinnerware. Check for names or initials on the tool and take advantage of it
Seek Expert Opinion
A second opinion may lead one to fetch better prices. Thus one may seek out a professional appraiser. Toy appraisers are highly skilled specialists who are equipped to accurately assess the actual value or a close estimate of your American Flyer Antique train.
NB; sellers collecting toy trains to re-sell, should look out the original maintenance manuals. These may increase earnings from the sale. The best way to determine a resale value price, is to check on ebay, but Remember that prices do change frequently. The antique market is fluid and trending. However, eBay is the bargain basement. Trains whether new-in-box or well used fetch better prices at live local auctions and via online auctions run by local auctioneers.
Here is a link for more information for sellers; Check Elizabeth Appraisal on: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1MBWGSyv6mVbHNAkWL2VZA/videosPrices for resale
Before you sell, it is important to know the market value of your antique and the fees and other charges imposed by the market. If an antique has great value, Auction houses have specialists in different types of antiques, so choose wisely if you want to maximize profits.
When going for the online market only some sites offer buyers the guarantee that they’re buying something genuine. Buyers thus need to do their due diligence when using some websites like eBay and Etsy. Understand your chosen marketplace and its selling procedures. Find out whether the quality of antiques is ascertained on the platform. It is important to know the tax regimes applying to a system of sale.
Old American Flyer Trains That Are Worth Your Money
1. Vintage New Old Stock American Flyer TNT
25061 Train Car Never Run; Vintage New Old Stock American Flyer TNT 25061 Train were replicas of real trains running on functional railway routes. This train today costs a fortune and is thus valuable.
Value: $599.95 and 3,000 when in good condition.
Get it here Ebay.
2. American Flyer AC Gilbert Accessories, Cars With Boxes
3. American Flyer #631 T&P TexPacGondola Gray Version C8 Ln All Steps
Current Value: $1,000.00
4. American Flyer Pre-War O Scale 1319 Iron Horse
It’s important to note that whenever one buys a model train, it comes as individual pieces. Assembling the pieces is necessary. One completely and properly assembled the train should move on its railroad, complete with functional lights and usual sounds. Get one with the instructions intact!
5. Vintage American Flyer Rare 353 Circus Train Set
6. Pre-War American Flyer O Gauge Deluxe Hiawatha Streamliner Set 1742
These trains have a sound system designed in.
7. Vintage American Flyer 466 Comet
Year: 1953 to 1955
8. Combo Set
Combo Set; These are perhaps the most valuable American Train Flyers. They are in 3 different sizes; S Gauge (1:64), O (1:48) and HO (1:87) is the smallest. Most may bear the American Flyer mark, while some have Lionel marking.
Name: Amerflyr (3014)
100% positive feedback
9. 736 American Flyer Missouri Pacific Operating Stockcar
10. American Flyer Prewar O Gauge 447 Hudson Streamline Chrome Passenger Set 1621C
Year: 1922 to 1925
11. Rare!! Original American Flyer S Gauge Defender Set
This model demands more vigilance especially since it is through an online purchase, ensuring it is working once delivered.
12. American Flyer Pre-War O Gauge
13. American Flyer Erie Complete Set ALCO A A B & 4 Cars
14. American Flyer #480 Silver Flash B Unit Diesel VERY RARE ORIGINAL 1955 works Sold $3,000.00
American Flyer #480 Silver Flash B Unit Diesel VERY RARE ORIGINAL from 1955 with knuckle couplers. Overall the unit is in C6 Very Good condition with everything intact, light surface wear to edges and paint throughout, diesel horn and diesel roar features both work well. Original numbering and decals intact.
15. BEAUTIFUL American Flyer Prewar Wide Gauge 4687 “President’s Special” Set $1,200.00
American Flyer Prewar Std Gauge 4687 “President’s Special” Set 1927.
Engine has new wheels. possible repaint on chassis and shell. The Engine. it runs very good. (test track) missing light cover on the engine and one rail post on the roof.
16. American Flyer Standard Gauge PRESIDENTS SPECIAL Set w4689 COMMANDER Bell Ringer Sold $1,100.00
17. SUPER RARE American Flyer S-gauge 24416 Northwestern Reefer Boxcar EXCELLENT $1,100.00
This is one of the RAREST American Flyer boxcars out there- the # 24416 NORTHWESTERN REFRIGERATOR LINE. S-gauge, it features knuckle couplers.
The car is in outstanding condition. ALL ORIGINAL. NO damage of any kind. Decals all intact. Lettering strong and complete. NO chips or cracks in the shell. It has a coating of dust from being on display for years; but the paint finish is still bright and not faded.
18. SUPER RARE AEOLUS PASSENGER TOY TRAIN SET AMERICAN FLYER O GA PREWAR RUNS LIGHTS Sold $999.99
Nearly impossible set to find is this 1935 set inspired by the Burlington Aeolus Hudson locomotive. Includes 9915 loco/tender one piece combination made of cast aluminum with three 3178 coaches and one 3179 observation. Loco runs and lights in one direction.
19. How to maintain Your Antique American Flyer Trains Sold $1,000.00
How to maintain Your Antique American Flyer Trains
Cleaning these pieces is inevitable. The trains accumulate dust, which needs to be carefully removed. The trains are also prone to corrosion. In order to reap maximum benefits from your American flyer antique train both as a seller or a buyer you need to maintain it in great condition. Cleaning makes a great difference in the preservation of these valuable pieces. What steps would you take to achieve this?
- Before commencing the cleaning check for damages
- Keep your Antique flyer train free from dust and moisture. Dust can be removed using a dry, soft brush and compressed air. The soft brush doesn’t damage delicate parts. Compressed air removesdust from the tight spaces and moving parts.
- Drag cars on a towel placed over track, each locomotive at a time.
- Use a lubricating oil over the toy during cleaning to ensureit isn’t destroyed while at it.
- Remove any rust patches using soft circular rubbing motions. Work carefully, to ensure only dirtis removed while maintaining the paint.
- Peel off the grime from the wheels, using a flat screwdriver. Brush off any loose paint and rust with the aid of a stiff wire brush. Clean the metal contacts and backs of the wheels using a liquid cleaner.
- Dip a clothinto white spirit and use it to clean the surfaces of the antique flyer trains, removing all traces of dust and oil. Take time to re-lubricate and then wrap it in a newspaper before storing it in a dry and warm
- Place the cleaned and dried flyer train in an airtight air sealed display case
Here are important links on flyer train repair Videos on YouTube:
In a nutshell, we’ve covered how to identify the American flyer trains, their worth and the most valuable American old flyer trains. Like depicted in the article, The American Flyer train antiques have continued to elicit sharp interest throughout history and thus these distinct and unique antiques are easily identifiable.
The value of each of these flyers varies and is determined by its physical condition, rarity and demand for the piece so don’t shy from seeking expert opinion in price determination even though online websites like ebay, Etsy and Amazon can give guidance on the price.
What’s holding you back from owning an American Flyer train? Nothing now, we hope!