A British North American Mystery
By Charles Reif
As a fan and collector of British and European trains made for North American markets, I was intrigued to read in Michael D. Foster’s book British Toy Trains, Book 1, that the little known English firm of Whitanco, manufacturer of inexpensive British mechanical trains in the years just after World War I, had in its 1920 or 1921 catalogs advertised “American Train Sets,” with a cowcatcher added to otherwise British tin locomotives, and “CPR” lettering on the tender and goods vans, and in the later catalog on coaches as well.
Whitanco went out of business shortly thereafter, when it became clear in 1922 that the British government was not going to impose protective tariffs against returning German toy train imports.
The mystery? Did Whitanco ever manufacture their “American” train? The catalog photo below is courtesy of Michael D. Foster. Has anyone seen this actual toy train?