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Repro vs. Original: American Flyer Hats

e*Train Issue: Jun 2018   |   Posted in: ,

By Carol Redman McGinnis, HE-95-41066Summer 2018

A recent email from a fellow member brings to light a common problem in the advertising, marketing, and sales world, especially evident in our Internet world.  Much as trains can be reproduced and restored, so can train ephemera, such as this American Flyer Engineer Hat.  The originals were made back in the 1920s and would be close to 100 years old.  The hats that have been for sale on eBay were reproductions made in the 1970, for the 1970 Chicago TCA convention.  This information is being passed on to members so that you can be aware that all items should be viewed with a keen eye for details and questions asked if there are concerns.  Thank you to Robert for providing the question and to Mike for adding to the answer.

Robert S. Butler, TCA 78-12317 wrote:
“It is my understanding that reproduction American Flyer hats were made for the 1970 TCA convention in Chicago.  These hats look a great deal like the originals and other than the hat size indication on the left side of the hat (S,M,L) there is nothing to identify them as reproductions.  In the last year or two there have been several sales on E-Bay where these hats have been offered as original.”

“… is there any chance you could contact someone in TCA to confirm the hat origin?  If it is true then, as a service to the public, I think it would be worth posting the information on e*Train so individuals will be able to look up an official statement concerning these items.”

Robert goes on to mention about this March, 2018 posting:

This seller has updated his original ad so it should be OK. However, about a year ago the same cap was offered as original by a different e-bay seller.  I don’t have the particulars for that ad but if you go over to the Classic Toy Trains Forum, below is the link to the discussion.  I can only link to the page – 43 of the discussion thread: the post concerning the hat is about halfway down the page of posts – it includes pictures.

The second mention is on page 25 of the same thread – Pre-war American Flyer Pictures-An Invitation: again the post is about half way down the lists of posts to that page.

I checked with Mike Santangini, Midwest Division TCA President, who provided the following information:

“Yesterday I asked our resident A.C. Gilbert/American Flyer expert Andy Jugle about this.  He does remember the hats (he attended the convention) and that there were several different styles offered as part of the “grab bag” for the attendees.  Andy didn’t know who had the hats made.  He said he does have a couple of convention hats but didn’t mention if he had an original to compare them too to confirm how to identify the originals from the reproductions.”