model train set on track

Well I did it now!

e*Train Issue: Feb 2004   |   Posted in:

By Jerry Loman

A week ago I saw a car on eBay that I have wanted for some time (since 1980) and it was driving me crazy. I let my wife, Jae Lynne; know that it was something I had to have. So she was relatively prepared.

I posted a tickler bid in the beginning just to keep the seller from backing out and selling it off line. My tickler proxy of $200.00 was good for the entire week so I was thinking it would go off cheap given the lot description and pics.

I had sent for additional pics and seeing the excellent condition knew it was the one car I wanted. The day of the auction end there was fair warning in the house that I not miss out on an opportunity to make a final bid. So just before it was to go off we had another discussion about the worth of this car and how much I was committed to tender in the final moments.

The end was coming near and the price suddenly jumped to $1,500. I quickly upped the bid and again someone else again stomped on my bid. Seeing this I upped it so that I was now just under $2500 which was going to be my final bid knowing that I could get it for roughly half the price of my perceived value.

Again with only seconds to go a bidder tendered another bid inching it just under my final maximum bid. I quickly placed a bid adding another $99.01 with only seconds to go thinking for sure this time I would not be kicked out. The site suddenly flashed a final cost and to my surprise it finished out at $3888.91 KC8 s the winner. Whoa!*****@@??///

What happened!

I quickly went back to my bid page and almost dropped of the chair. I had bid $250,199.00.

I got it all right. But soon after the auction end there was a flurry of activity from other bidders who were trying to contact me about my great buy and did I want to now sell it for more along with cash and trade offers that exceeded my final bid.

Well I have not seen it in person yet but it is being shipped from a little mountain village called Lively, Virginia. The seller had listed it for estate liquidation. The car was owned by one person and now I am the second owner. I had just paid a record price for a Hafner car.

4 wheels, one in each corner.

Now for the rest of the story;

In 1980 when I was a relative newcomer to the collecting biz I met a person in Chicago who was a toy train collector and he was doing research for a museum. His name was Arno Uhlhorn now deceased. He had heard that I owned a set of 8 wheel Hafner trains that was unique and he had been meeting with the son of a Chicago toy train company founder for “The Hafner Manufacturing Company”. His name was John Hafner, now deceased. Arno Indicated John wanted to see the cars so I brought them to Chicago to a toy train meet that was in conjunction with a TCA (Train Collectors Association) club meeting that occurred about once a month.

On my next trip down from Milwaukee I brought the set of cars. John was happy to see them as he had never seen a set prior to that day. He did show me a piece of stationary that was their company letterhead decorated along the edges with the colorful Overland Flyer cars so prized by collectors today. John recalled the many colorful variations of the wonderful lithographed toy trains and the conversation turned to one set in particular that has eluded collectors for ever.

He was not positive of the nature of the origin but did know that the cars were marked Pittsburg Flyer (PITTSBURG) spelled incorrectly. This was a passenger car. John’s speculation was that there was a set of 4 wheel cars made for a sales man to market or maybe a special request by a store company like Gimbels or Kaufman in Pennsylvania.

This was popular at the time to provide identity to a particular store chain. John was not aware of the specifics of the set or what the consist was. John had already had feedback regarding a red car marked Pittsburg flyer over an ERIE railroad herald that had already surfaced after 60 years hiatus. He also speculated that there was a baggage. So there was some proof of a special car made and it was the only known example.

Ever since collectors have been trying to find another car or determine the nature of the set.

The car I bought is another unknown 1 of a kind dark blue car Marked PITTSBURG FLYER over a Baltimore & Ohio herald. In excellent condition. This is the highest known price paid for a Hafner 4 wheel car. I sold the 8 wheel set of cars and engine in 1982 to the late Bill Sanchez and are now pictured in the book, Greenburg’s guide to Early American Toy Trains

Now you know the rest of the story.