Every schoolboy wants a model electric train set and every father wants him to have one too. I am not talking about the toy train sets that families like to have running around the Christmas tree, I mean real train sets that can be expanded and built upon – train sets that you can grow fanatical about and some people do, don’t they?
Some people’s childhood interest for model electric train sets becomes a life-long adult obsession. This is why some of the earlier model electric train sets are so expensive. After all, few children could afford the prices that some early model electric train sets command.
One model electric train set producer whose products are the top of the tree with the best of them is the German company Maerklin, which began producing clockwork model trains and expandable track in 1891.
Maerklin had produced dolls’ houses first of all, but they soon realized that the model train set enthusiast might be like a dolls’ house owner. That is that they might want to add to their collection after their initial purchase. Therefore, Maerklin offered basic model train sets but with a whole range of accessories that could be added on later.
Maerklin model electric train sets come in a selection of scales and gauges, many of which Maerklin itself defined as international standards. For instance, in 1891 Maerklin introduced the 1-5 gauge at the Leipzig Toy Fair and it was quickly adopted as the world’s standard gauge for model train sets.
It followed this up with the O gauge somewhere between 1895 and 1901; the HO scale in 1935 and the Z scale in 1972. These days, however, current Maerklin model electric train sets are only available in Gauge 1, HO scale and Z scale.
These days it is very hard and very expensive to get hold of earlier examples of Maerklin model electric train sets. In 2005, burglars broke into the Maerklin museum in Goeppingen and stole 100 pieces of Maerklin trains and accessories – a value of 1,000,000 Euros was placed on the haul.
They were later recovered in 2005. In Philadelphia, USA, a complete Maerklin train station and accessories was sold at an international auction for $110,000, despite the fact that it was considered that the final selling price would be in the vicinity of $30,000.
Maerklin were really one of the world’s top innovators in the model electric train set market for about a hundred years, but the company has fallen on hard times. It filed for liquidation in Germany in February 2009, although a year and a day later, it returned to profitability.
In the 150 years since its foundation as a company, Maerklin has usually been at the forefront of the ideas and technology in its field. Even today, Maerklin is still the world leader for all important scales in the model railroad market, since no other current day manufacturer offers collectors the possibility of adding to existing railtracks and collections.
If you are eager to own some early Maerklin trains or accessories, you can look on Ebay, they do pop up every now and again, but do not expect to find yourself a good deal, the earlier model electric trains were all hand-painted in great detail and they rarely sell for less than $25,000.
Owen Jones, the writer of this piece, writes on a lot of topics, but is currently involved with train sets for kids. If you would like to know more about train sets for kids, please go over to our website for some great offers.