HALLMARK CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS—A LIONEL COLLECTIBLE
1992 Silver Star (probably a precursor to the Lionel ornament line)
HALLMARK CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS-A LIONEL COLLECTABLE
By Terry Trickel (TCA #79-13707) Fall, 2022
During the 1990 Christmas season, we received a Hallmark train ornament. It was a three piece streamline passenger set of a diesel locomotive, coach, and observation car. It was not to scale and almost too heavy to hang on a tree. There was no detail to the model. About 10 years later, I bid at a local auction house on some Hallmark Lionel Train Keepsake Ornaments.
The small collection included a Hudson locomotive, 400 E Blue Comet locomotive and tender and three matching passenger cars. Included was a Norfolk and Western 746, and a Chessie steam special locomotive. The collection looked to be about “N” scale size. They were made of die cast metal and had great detail including moving wheels and moveable side rods. These were certainty nice collection to add to the holiday tree. After a few Christmas seasons, I noticed that all the Hallmark stores carried a selection of Lionel Ornaments. I decided to research the history of these new Lionel train collectables. Hallmark introduced the Hallmark Lionel Locomotives in 1996. This Original series continues to be popular with collectors. In 1999, Hallmark added a matching tender to the Norfolk & Western locomotive as a series Complement. Then in 2002 a third car was added to the yearly offering. Each year, the Complement ornaments change according to the train being replicated. There have also been a few larger pieces produced that complement the series such as the Lionelville Magic ornament (2004) and the Lionel Holiday Special Club piece from 2003. The series also includes Colorway ornaments (limited paint scheme) and Blown Glass ornaments as series Complements. Another series Hallmark issued were the Lionel Train Miniatures.
The Hallmark Miniatures series was a surprise to me when I was ordering additional models on Ebay to fill in the collection and received Collectors & Operators these miniature Lionel ornaments; that were even smaller than “z” scale trains. I was expecting the same size “N” scale trains. The first Hallmark Lionel Train Miniature ornaments, issued in 1999, were the Norfolk and Western series. The series offer full sets of locomotives and cars. Due to the small size of the models, they tend to get lost in the tree and many prefer the larger production. These short-lived series can be found in this article, along with the other Miniature Lionel Train ornaments. They are still manufactured today. The Lionel ornaments are marked on the bottom with “L” (Lionel logo) or spelled out Lionel License and Hallmark markings with the year production date. The original series were marked with a Christmas tree symbol and number with the series. In addition, there are limited edition models produced and issued during the month of October debut at selected stores. Many of the limited-edition models are sent to selected stores who often received only four items resulting in short supply and hard to find. There are over 125 items produced and more are added each year. To catch up in gathering these fine Lionel Collectables, I recommend shopping eBay and online sites. There are many Hallmark dealers that may have a few left-over stock. New production items from Hallmark Stores can cost in the $20.00 range. I found some models as low as $2.00 on eBay. The gold or limited-edition series are the hardest to find and can be very expensive. The glass blown ornaments are a rare item as well.
Following is the listing of the Original Series, the Complement Series and the Miniature Series, with Series #, year issued and description. I have contacted Hallmark for their production listing with quantities and will update lists when available.
In the Complement Series the numbers shown with Red Color are limited edition-issued during the month of October, Blue Color is for Blown Glass Ornaments and Green Color is for display base production.
Year Description Year Description Year Description
Year Description Year Description Year Description
HOW TO USE THE HALLMARK CHRISTMAS LIONEL ORNAMENTS—Continued 2019
Hallmark has 24 original locomotives issued from 1996 through 2019. The 2019 edition is a Lionel Scout #1001 locomotive. The Complement for the locomotive is a Scout tender and a #1007 caboose. An additional Complement is the limited-edition gold painted Lionel Scout #1001 locomotive. The 2019 Miniature series is a Southern A-B-A, F3 unit.
I created a “HALLMARK LIONEL KEEPSAKE YARDS” display for my collection. The Lionel display sign top portion was sold by Hallmark. I made a base for it from LEGO blocks for height and the Hallmark Keepsake Yards signs. The track is N-scale with an Atlas turntable. The outside circle of track is powered to run the Hallmark Thomas locomotive for my grandson Matthew and is powered by a Life Like 0-6-0 chassis. My last purchased item was the Chessie Steam Special locomotive (2009) in gold paint and very rare. Sorry, the engine was not on the layout when photos were made. The collection is now complete. However, I plan to add additional sidings and/or enlarge the platform to provide additional track for future items. My next challenge is to create a display for the Miniatures series.
A few notes on collecting the Hallmark Ornaments: The Hallmark Lionel collection is a joy to collect at a fraction of cost of the full size Lionel trains and also takes a fraction of the space. In the early years, the ornaments were packed with a ‘collector’s card’ of the locomotive or car and housed in a plastic shell that fit the box. In subsequent years, the card disappeared and the plastic shell was replaced by tissue paper. The first NYC Hudson locomotive, issued in 1996, did not have a tender as a Complement and so I added a matching tender to this locomotive. In addition, the limited-edition gold Complement locomotives do not come with tenders, but for my collection, I have purchased additional Complement tenders and plan to repaint these to match the locomotives.
Most of the Hallmark trains are near N-scale size trains. There are a few smaller in size and some larger than the others. Not all wheels will fit on the N scale track. I found that locomotives will sit on the track, but the tenders do not fit very well; and the trains are top heavy and often tip over. When I find a permanent location to display the layout, I will add tacky putty to the underside of the trains to keep them in place. Hallmark offers a wide variety of Keepsake Ornaments, such as cars, planes and other subject matter. The ornaments are a great addition to any holiday tree. I welcome any question or comment you may have. Reach me at 484- 920-8129 or email: [email protected]. Bottom of Form
Bob L. likes to use the Hallmark ornaments at Christmastime adding them to his mantle.
Portions of this article reprinted by permission of the author and Atlantic Division from the Atlantic Division Express, Winter 2018-4 and Fall 2019-3. Photos by Carol R. McGinnis