model train set on track

Hallmark Christmas Ornaments by Lionel

e*Train Issue: Dec 2002   |   Posted in:

by Jim Herron

1. Lionel Hudson 1937 700E (1996)
2 .Santa Fe F-3 1948 (1997)
3. GG-1 – 1947 (1998)
4. N & W – J – & Tender 1957 (1999)
5. General & Tender 1959 (2000)
6. Chessie Steam Engine and Tender 1990 (2001)
7. N.J. Central Blue Comet 1930’s (2002)

The Christmas Hallmark ornaments made their debut in 1996. As of 2002 there are seven collector’s series ornaments, with a new one apparently coming out every Christmas season. If you enjoy decorating your tree with beautiful ornaments, these are about as nice and detailed as you can get.
The first in this series is the 700E Hudson Steam Locomotive, which was issued in 1996. The actual train was made in “O” Gauge in 1937, it was die-cast and the favorite of Lionel owner, Joshua Lionel Cowen.

2nd: A die-cast metal Santa Fe – F-3 Diesel Locomotive came out in 1997. This model is #2343, a 1950 Santa Fe Super Chief, and was noted for its beautiful War Bonnet paint scheme. It became an all-time favorite that is still being produced by Lionel.

3rd: 1998 the Legendary Lionel GG-1 # 2332, and was one of the most popular engines ever produced in Lionel’s 100 year history. It is patterned after the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Electric GG-1 developed in the 1930s by Raymond Lowry.

4th in the series, issued in 1999, was the Norfolk and Western Steam Locomotive. This was produced by Lionel in 1957 as #746. This 16-wheeler engine is another highly collectible and also a great runner, die-cast and beautifully detailed. It was called a “J” class and is readily identified by its bullet nose.

5th: This Western & Atlantic Railroad General – 4-4-0 American, #1862, produced in 2000 is often referred to as America’s favorite locomotive. It was the most prolific engine ever produced in America, and ran on just about every railroad from the 1860s to the 1880s. Lionel produced this engine in 1959 and it was a great seller.

6th: The 2001 series ornament is a C & O Railroad, Baldwin #2101 Chessie Special Steam Locomotive. This is my personal favorite because it is on exhibit at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Being a member of their Board of Directors, I have had a chance to sit up in the engineer’s seat and see what it felt like to drive one of these beauties.

7th 2002: – Lionel’s #400E “Blue Comet” Steam Locomotive had quite a reputation in the 1930s as the “crack” premier, fast passenger express on the real Central of New Jersey Railroad. It ran between New York City and Atlantic City on the Jersey coast. Being one of the biggest, most powerful and beautiful two-toned Blue model locomotives ever built, it has become quite a collectible.
As a very nice bonus, Hallmark has issued what hopefully will be the first in a series of Blue Comet Passenger Cars. The “Westphal” coach is available for separate sale in the same two — tone Blue colors as the 400E and it’s tender. On top of the roof is a small brass colored button, which when depressed, causes a yellow interior glow to occur which simulates a lighted car. The “light,” which is battery operated, stays lit for about 30 seconds. These cars apparently were not made in the same quantities as the locomotive and tender as they have already become quite scarce and very hard to find at Hallmark locations.

Well that almost concludes the collectors series of Hallmark ornaments except for this last one which is not in the collector’s series, but should be.

This ornament was inspired by Walt Disney and is a Mickey and Minnie Mouse hand car that was the Christmas sensation for Lionel in 1934, during the middle of the depression. Joshua Lionel Cowen, it is said, told people if it wasn’t for this hand car which sold for $1.00, Lionel Trains would have gone out of business. It was the Train that saved Lionel. We do not know what is on the drawing board for next year, but it looks like the earlier Hallmark Lionel ornaments are still appreciating and all are more than holding their value. Plus, they really look great on your Christmas tree.