Lionel Mickey Mouse Train Set, ca. 1939

Value (2006) | $10,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

GUEST:
It was given to me by my aunt before she passed away. It was laying around the house and she said she just wanted to get rid of it. I told her not to because of its age.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
But she said go ahead and take it. So I took it. And then I just hung on to it and these people came by, and they were buying toys.

APPRAISER:
Some type of company was advertising locally for people to bring things in to sell, is that what you mean?

GUEST:
Exactly. And I went there and they offered me $900 for it.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
So that peaked my interest a little bit more. So I did some research, but it's hard to find. I looked in some books, but they always say: if it's in this condition or that condition, and I don't know what condition it's in.

APPRAISER:
First, let's talk about what we have here. It's a Lionel number 1536 Mickey Mouse Circus Train. And we have it in excellent condition. There is a little bit of wear on the train, but it's one of the greatest whimsical Lionel Disney pieces. If you look down the side of the train, there's all the Disney characters lithographed on the sides. It's just fantastic imagery. And then one of the great things about the train itself is you have Mickey shoveling coal in the tender, and it's animated. And as it goes along it shows Mickey shoveling the coal, which is very comical. It just has such charm.

GUEST:
I've never had it running, so I've never seen that.

APPRAISER:
Also, the wonderful part of the set is its original box. And then right here, the real best part of this whole package: you never see the tents. This is a cardboard tent. Now we haven't shown everything. There's also a ticket booth and lots of cutouts of characters and Mickey and Minnie. And inside we also have the large composition Mickey ticket-taker. Now all that fit inside this box. This all breaks down. It's a plaything and it's made out of cardboard. So a kid would open it up on Christmas, and you know, probably set it up once, and the cardboard gets thrown away and they play with the train. So you do find the trains, but very, very, very rarely do you find the tent. And that's what really makes this set really good. Now there's a little bit of condition issues. On the tent there's a few little tears and wear on the edges and things, but it's not a really huge deal. It's well preserved, the whole thing. In all your research, did you come along any pricing?

GUEST:
Well, one book said it could be worth from $1,000 to $3,000. Then I saw another book and they said $700 to $2,000. So it was all over the place, so it's hard to tell.

APPRAISER:
Yes, it is difficult. You have to be, at this level, very picky about condition. It's not mint. A mint example would obviously bring a little bit more. This example is extremely fine and it's one of the greatest Disney Mickey Mouse toys from the '30s. It's desirable to more than just a Disney person, a Lionel collector, lots of people love this toy. They have sold recently in the $15,000 range.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And I feel that the proper auction estimate for the condition that we have here is $10,000 to $12,000.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
And it could bring in a little bit more.

GUEST:
Wow, that's a lot more than I anticipated.

(chuckling)

GUEST:
If I'd have sold it for 900 bucks, I'd have really been upset.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Village Doll Shop
Adamstown, Pennsylvania
Morphy Auctions
Appraised value (2006)
$10,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Event
Milwaukee, WI (July 29, 2006)
Period
20th Century
Material
Cardboard, Composite

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