model train set on track

A Review of Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel O Gauge, Volume 1, 1915-1928

e*Train Issue: Apr 2018   |   Posted in:

By James Koontz, MD. 99-49001  Spring 2018 

Wow! This is the book I have been waiting for. That’s what I said out loud when I first read Dr. Greenberg’s new book.

I have always considered myself fortunate that my earliest toys were hand-me-down prewar Lionel trains stored in two large crates in our family home. I especially loved playing with the 253, 254, and 256 locomotives. Over the decades I enjoyed every book I could find on toy trains.

Dr. Greenberg has now completed a new version of his Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel O gauge Trains, Volume 1, 1915-1928. When I first browsed the pages it was obvious that this 424 page book is  more comprehensive than any previous Lionel book. The almost 1,800 new color pictures are both dazzling and informative. The accompanying picture captions explain the important features. When I was able to break away from enjoying the pictures and began reading I was even more amazed.

With the generous assistance of many advanced collectors who shared both their knowledge and their rare trains, Dr. Greenberg has produced the most detailed and useful book of its kind. Each item is described in detail. The pages are well organized and contain much new information.  Included are photographs of locomotive outfits, set boxes with labels and listings of original contents. Pictures show the evolution of the motors, the pickups, the trucks and the couplers. There is also more information about the rare and unusual items than in previous books. This knowledge was held by only a minority of train collectors. Now it is available to all.

While I read the book, I would frequently put it down to search for an engine or car that I had stored away to see how it compared to what I was reading. As I compared a 254 locomotive for example with the book’s description and photograph, I gained a new understanding and appreciation of my locomotive.  My enthusiasm was revived.  Furthermore I began to create a list of items I knew I “needed” to add to my collection. I believe other collectors will also be stimulated to create similar lists. I can’t wait to begin my search for a gray 256 locomotive or my personal favorite, an authentic green Macy 450 locomotive.

The chapters on the individual cars are equally detailed with pictures again showing the evolution of Lionel’s manufacturing changes. Pictures show changes in the colors, couplers, trucks, plates, lettering, oil labels and even box end flaps. This information has never been documented and presented in such an organized and useful manner. As with the engines, current values of the cars obtained from many reliable sources, are noted.

This is a perfectly delightful read for anyone who has ever enjoyed a toy train. Because of the detailed photographs and clarity of explanation, collectors at any level will be surprised and pleased and will soon find it indispensable.

Dr. Greenberg’s years of research and photography have resulted in the most important and finest book ever written on this era of Lionel trains. It will be in demand for generations of collectors.

As a bonus there is an enclosed listing of “interesting pages” and questions to educate and test one’s knowledge. Lots of fun!

Thank you Dr. Greenberg. Please rush volumes II and III.

Note: Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel O Gauge, Volume 1, 1915-1928 is available from Bruce Greenberg at 703-461-6991. The cost is $100 plus $4 shipping for US buyers.  Virginia residents please add $6 for sales tax.   You may also order at Bruce’s website: