Vintage railway items symbolize freedom, the Wild West, manifest destiny, so it’s no surprise that many train lovers collect items associated with them. These are known as railroad antiques, or railroadiana. From a pristine Lionel locomotive to a builder plate, railroadiana covers a wide range of items, all related to the history of the American railways.
If you have a collection of vintage railway items, you might be wondering what to do with them. While most of them won’t have much intrinsic value, there may be a number of ways you could reuse or sell them.
Rails of Nostalgia: Discovering the Charms of Vintage Railway Items
The first step in assessing what you have is to identify what gauge it is (G, 1, 0, H/00/TT and N). This is important as certain gauges can have more value than others.
Next, you will want to strip or soak off all track. It will likely be covered in a black film, which is caused by the wheels of trains rolling over it for hours on end. This is especially true if the tracks are from an older model such as LionelTM or DorfanTM. These tinplate or cast metal track pieces might have some value, but they are most valuable if they have been hand-laid.
The last step is to consider whether any of the equipment is still in working order. It might be useful for a demonstration run, or even just to give children a chance to experience the thrill of riding a train.