Lionel Freight Train Set, ca. 1935
This is a train set that was my dad's.
It was given to him on his first Christmas in December 1930. Obviously, he didn't get to play with it that year, but, uh, it's still used. As a family tradition growing up, my dad had a platform on which we had the tree and then the train sets went around it. It was in the picture window of our front window and it was so popular, that we even had some of the neighborhood kids would come look at the window even before they came in to see the train going. So, it's, uh, the engine. We have still have the cars and the original boxes. The condition of the box obviously has deteriorated a little bit, held together with some duct tape.
And when did you get it?
My dad gave it to me a couple of years ago.
APPRIASER: Well, it's a wonderful train, which confirms the fact that most of these trains especially from the Standard Gauge Era, were not bought for children. They were bought by the father to play with. The fathers bought them, ran them for the children, and put 'em in the boxes, put 'em up in the attic, and they came out every year. And that's why a lot of them survive in great condition. Obviously this has been something that has been loved and taken care of. And it's a real treat to see. These trains are not only made out of heavy tinplate, but also cast white metal. And that's also quite unusual that there's no fatigue. It's in really good shape-- both the castings and the stamped metal. This engine, which is known as the 385E, is one of the more deluxe engines. One of the more valuable ones. Very expensive in their day. Great color, great all the bits and pieces. A little couple flags missing here, but that's to be expected. And the tender is equally good condition. And you have a wonderful freight set here. These are not rare cars, but this is a great engine. And the whole set together would easily bring $2,500 to $3,000 at auction.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.