Wednesday 1 February 2017

Marx Tin Train Set

During a recent inventory an unmarked box was brought to light, and inside a Marx train set was discovered consisting of a pressed steel locomotive, six tin cars, and fourteen sections of track. The locomotive appears to be a ‘New York Central Lines’ COMMODORE VANDERBILT streamliner 0-4-0 (Marx Model 232), the key wound variety produced by Marx starting in 1934. However, this particular locomotive and cars are equipped with tongue-and-slot couplers (TSC) which Marx started using about 1936, information which helps to date these items more accurately. Although the locomotive has some superficial chips in its paint, the ‘New York Central Lines’ front name plate is still affixed, and its wind-up motor still runs beautifully. This eighty year old toy is a testament to the Marx company motto "give the customer more toy for less money"!

Louis Marx and Company was an American toy manufacturer incorporated in 1919. By early 1920's they were producing a large array of tin and wooden toys for girls and boys. Eventually their line included tinplate buildings, tin toys, toy soldiers, play-sets, toy dinosaurs, mechanical toys, toy guns, action figures, dolls, dollhouses, toy cars and trucks, and, of course, trains. Unlike Lionel and American Flyer, its main competitors in the toy train business, Marx never set out to make the fanciest toy trains, but rather to make quality toy trains at the lowest price. For Depression-era kids and their parents, a complete Marx railway could be had for the price of a single Lionel train! Sadly, too slow to jump on the electronic-toy bandwagon, in 1972 Marx was purchased by Quaker Oats. By 1975, its manufacturing facilities were closed.

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