Ives Toy Train, ca. 1915

Value (2012) | $3,000$4,000

It was originally my great-great-uncle George's. And he was kind of an eccentric bachelor. He had given the train to my grandfather, and from my grandfather it was passed on to my father, and we just thought we'd bring it down today and find out what it was worth.

I'm sure you've heard of the company Lionel. Lionel was the major American train maker. But predating Lionel were Ives trains. Ives was one of the...probably the greatest American toymaker from the 19th century. They made cast iron toys, banks, wonderful things. And then they started making toy trains, starting with the clockwork, and then graduated to the electric. What's wonderful about the Ives trains, the engines were cast iron, so they have that massive, wonderful feel of real trains. But what Ives fell in love with in the 20th century was the ability to do this beautiful lithography, which these cars exemplify. These are finished in what we call green wood grain surface, and they're just beautiful. He was able to emulate the wooden train cars of the period. It's a real find in this condition, and apparently your father told you this had some value, which is why you've preserved it.

Absolutely. It was one of his most prized possessions. He had told me forever that if anything ever happened, make sure I got the train.

And what did he tell you it was worth?

Approximately two years ago, I think he said he thought about $800.

In this condition, in this beautiful box, I would say the value on today's market would be more in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. So it's a real gem.

Appraisal Details

Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Update (2012)
Appraised value (1998)
Rochester, NY (August 08, 1998)
20th Century
Cast Iron, Wood

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.