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Looking for advice on best way to sell moderate size Lionel toy train collection
Old 07-21-2012, 05:37 PM   #1
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Looking for advice on best way to sell moderate size Lionel toy train collection

I am looking for some advice on the best way to sell off my toy train collection (the trade off is effort and gross “profit” – e.g. I’d sacrifice $$’s within reason to selling have to make many ebay or craigslist sales). I used the search engine forum some but couldn’t find what I was really looking for. I Am trying to ge-clutter and get a few bucks at the same time.

Quick summary – several hundred pieces of rolling stock, 20 or so engines (including the famous 1953 Lionel ABA 3 unit engine set from the early fifties, 4 boxed sets, operating accessories, buildings and other items to create a layout…won’t go through the whole list. Well the toy train collecting market was booming starting from the mid 60’s then slowed down in 2000’s and crashed in 2008. Now besides the economy a lot of this was due to some very old and long time collectors passing away (thus huge estate sales of thousands of pieces) and shops closing down and liquidating - so a flooded market for older items. Most of what I have is post war Lionel and Lionel MPC (1970 to 1996 when I stopped buying), but ~25% is post-war (1946-1969).

Enough background, I’m no longer a TCA member (kind of like the NRA for gun people) so I’ve lost those connections. Should I go the slow painful ebay, craigslist, garage/yard sale etc. method or hire some type of auctioneer type to deal off the whole collection (my local train shops in the DC area are not doing well, and except for some of “low hanging rare” pieces I have they are not intersected. Hopefully there are some TCA members or collectable dealers here to provide advice. 10 years ago My collection was worth probably 10K if sold off by pieces, and maybe 6K sold to the big shops in Pa. Now I’m thinking the numbers are closer to 6K and 3K or 4K wholesaled. The price guides that are updated each year just do not reflect reality. Perhaps I could just post on different general auction boards with an add where I email the list of items and condition estimate and ask for sealed bids.

Advice appreciated,


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Old 07-21-2012, 06:15 PM   #2
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I don't collect but have heard that for most any group of collectibles it is most efficient (max return for least time spent) to sell the most valuable pieces individually, then the remainder in bulk.

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Old 07-21-2012, 06:35 PM   #3
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It shouldn't take much to join the National Model RR Association. They have a convention every year: NMRA - Convention Information During the convention attendees can offer their equipment at a silent auction: Silent Auction - Grand Rails 2012 .

Your other option is to research sales on EBay and use that site. There is a value book for model rail road items, I think their values are on the high side as they are probably looking at items in mint condition.

If you have a model rail road club in your community visit it.

FWIW my husband is a model rail roader, an emeritus member of the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club. He has a trunk full of model train items in their original 1940's boxes.
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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I definetely would not sell them at a garage sale . All you will get is people who are going to resell them on ebay . I would check ebay and see what they are going for and if it looks good sell them individually . I know it is more work but you will make a lot more money and if someone is really interested they will contact you to see what else you have . Once you start listing them it should go fast .Once you do the first listing just change it for the next item and it will save you a lot of time . Take several pictures especially any identifying marks or flaws .It's really easy to sell on ebay and it would not take you that long once you got into it . Even if you have never sold on ebay being knowledgeable on your items helps a lot .
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Old 07-21-2012, 08:28 PM   #5
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Find a web forum for model train enthusiasts that has a sub forum for buying and selling. You will get better prices from people who know what this stuff is, and you will save ebay's outrageous commission. Still have to give PayPal 3%, however.
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Old 07-21-2012, 08:35 PM   #6
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When I downsized earlier this year, I sold most of my collectibles to people I met on forums dedicated to those specific collectibles. They knew the value of my stuff and were willing to pay a decent price for it.
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Old 07-23-2012, 11:20 AM   #7
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I think going to some of the model railroading forums is a good suggestion. There are also specialty dealers who buy up collections like this one:
I Buy Old Trains - Lionel trains , but I suspect you will get more $s dealing with hobbyist if you have the patience to sell things off slowly.

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