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6464-735–The Paraprosdokian

e*Train Issue: Oct 2012   |   Posted in: ,

6-27780 from Set # 6-38349

By Bob Mintz
(Article updated Fall 2012)

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; often used to a humorous effect.

“Where there’s a will, I want to be in it,” is a paraprosdokian.

“Light travels faster than sound.  This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”

“I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.”

“How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?”

“If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.”

“To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism.  To steal from many is research.”

“We never really grow up; we only really learn how to act in public.”

“I used to be indecisive.  Now I’m not sure.”

“A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops.  On my desk, I have a work station.”

I believe that several of the above terms may apply to the 6464-725 New Haven Boxcar.

Postwar 6464-425 with black body
Postwar 6464-725 with orange body
Postwar 6464-725 with black body
29292 from 6464 9th edition
39260 from Postwar Celebration Series

The 1963 Lionel catalog contains another paraprosdokian.  To borrow and amend slightly a line from Groucho Marx: “They made a perfectly wonderful catalog, but this wasn’t it.”

1963 CATALOG PAGES 10-11
1963 CATALOG PAGES 18-19

So we have in the same catalog two entirely different numbers for this car, “6484” and “6464-735”.  I have highlighted the area of the red arrow to magnify the text so you can see for yourself.

My next question is why come out with a black body 6464-725?  Did Lionel intend to re-issue the 6464-425 but someone misread the digits, mistaking “4” and making it into a “7” by oversight?

The two New Haven boxcars shown in the 1963 catalog are clearly light in color, so I would imagine that they are the orange version.


According to John W. Schmid’s book, “Authoritative Guide to Lionel’s Promotional Outfits 1960-1969”
Pages 436-438, “Of all the Lionel promotional outfits offered by Sears during the postwar era, the 12885-500 is the one most desired by many collectors.”

It further states on page 438 “The orange New Haven box car that was heat-stamped “6464725” was designated no. 6464-735 when it came packaged in a box and no. 6464-750 when unboxed.  The “-735″ version was used in this outfit.”

I am not sure what this means, but this set was not offered to Sears until sometime in 1965 to be included in their 1965 Xmas catalog, not 1963 when the car was first issued and the term 6464-735 was first introduced.

Close-up of description in Lionel 2011 Signature catalog

The Lionel 2011 Signature catalog text states that the 6-38349 # 12885-500 C&O GP-7 Promotional Outfit set includes “6464-725 New Haven boxcar”, yet the image clearly shows “6464-735”. 

As I have collected what I hope are all of the 6464 boxcars, I ordered this set irregardless, which I know is not a word, of which numbering scheme it would include, but I was leaning towards the 6464-735 designation as something unique and different, correcting a wrong as it were.

I eventually got my wish, as item # 6-27780 New Haven boxcar was numbered “6464-735”, but as the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for, you may get it.”

Close-up of 6-27780

One would imagine that the story would end here, but this numeric designation is clearly jinxed.

Upon further review, it appears to me that there was originally a “2” that had not been whited out, but rather “oranged out”, and overstamped with a “3”, a “3” that clearly does not really line up properly.

York Prototype

I examined the prototype at the Lionel display in the Orange Hall at October 2011 York, (outside with permission of course) and their version did not have any overstamp that I could determine in the pouring rain and the numbering was plumb .

Close-up of prototype

Did I have a one of a kind I asked myself?

If anyone was entitled to one, who better than I was more deserving I thought.

But now I wanted a “normal” one to compliment my error.  I was able to purchase another one from a totally different dealer after they eventually broke up the set.

I waited with anticipation for my second one to arrive so I could carefully examine them side by side.

So now I either have two one-of-a-kinds, or, all of the production versions are this way, with only the prototype being “correct.”

Because I wanted to document this item for posterity and have the facts revealed by those in the know, I contacted Matt Ashba, Product Manager of Lionel LLC.  Thanks to Matt for his cooperation and explanation:

“The original art that was forwarded to the factory was numbered 6464725.  This art was later revised to read 6464735 as a collectors’ nod to the special “-735” box that this car was packaged in for the original 1965 Sears set.  As I review the current sample and review your comments about your cars, it’s clear to me now that the bodies had all been completed, and that the factory then went back over them to change the single digit from “2” to “3”.   The sample that I have does not show misaligned numbers, but looking very carefully I can see there was an overprinting done over a “2” digit.  So, I am sure we would find that the “3” digit on some of the cars is aligned properly, but on others it may be misaligned to varying degrees.”

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.”
Custom item, 1962 issue, metal frame, plastic trucks on Postwar TYPE IV original shell-Orange with black door
Custom item, 1962 issue, metal frame, plastic trucks on Postwar TYPE IV original shell-Black with orange door
Custom item, 1962 issue, metal frame, plastic trucks on Postwar TYPE IV original shell-Black with orange door and “N”