Did you know? Part IV
By Jim Herron
1. Lionel made a “Geiger Counter” for “Civil Defense” back in 1962 to 1964. They were a big yellow box with chips with at least two variations and were made by Lionel Electric Labs in Brooklyn, New York, Model #6b. They were selling at a York Train Meet for $795.
2. The #45 Automatic Gateman is one of Lionel’s longest produced accessories. It first started in 1935 and is still being produced today. It has gone through many changes over the years, variations and colors but does so with great reliability.
3. In 1994 Lionel copied the Union Pacific A-A Alco, 1950 anniversary set using #18119. The numbers on the Alco is 8119 and has a gray nose as nice as it looked it did not sell well and could never duplicate or replace the original 1664 set.
4. When Lionel started producing the #310 billboard in 1950, they solicited companies for real advertising products, the likes of Plymouth, Philco, Wrigley Gum, Silver Springs, Florida, Cipex Rod and Reels, Baby Ruth, Hollicrafter Radios, Lifebuoy Soap, Black Jack, Ipana Toothpaste, Ford V-8, Coca Cola, Breck Shampoo, US Navy, Shredded Wheat, Kool Aid, Log Cabin Syrup, City Service, Lipton Ice Tea, Campbell Soups, Kelly Tires, Sunoco Gas, Allontes Gas, General Tire, Zerex Anti-Freeze, Frigidaire, and Fram Oil Filters.
5. The GG1s were the envy of every boy who got these in top of the line sets. It was one of the most popular engines ever produced by Lionel.
6. Lionel Madison cars, made with Bakelite Plastic spanned both the pre-war and post-war periods. There were three made, Madison, Irvington and Manhattan. They had identical numbers at first (#2625 for all three) and changed the 2625, 2627 for Madison 2628 for Manhattan with Irvington keeping #2625.
7. Fact has it that Lionel had produced a prototype model of New York City Grand Central Station that if it had made it to the production line, would have become the largest accessory ever made, even surpassing the original Lift Bridge. Supposedly it is the size of Four Hellgate Bridges and was supposedly purchased by Neil Young at the recent Lionel auction for $41,000.
8. Lionel produced a prototype back in the 1950s that rivaled America Flyers “Cow on Track” AF accessory. They used railroad workers instead. When a train came they moved off the track. Unfortunately, it landed up in the Lionel Archives.
9. The rarest of FM Trainmasters was the # 2341 Jersey Central which came in orange and blue with both a dull and a shiny finish. It came out in 1956 and was only offered in one set # 2270W. It is right up there in price as one of the most expensive single pieces to acquire. The set box alone commands a price of $2500.
10. At a York April TCA Meet, the most expensive item that I saw was a three car set of Postwar Silver Madison cars, all printed Madison with their numbers, heat stamped in black. They were allegedly a prototype used for a 1948 Christmas magazine advertisement and are one-of-a-kind. The asking price was $30,000 for the 3-car set. (I didn’t see anyone rushing to buy them though!)