Marklin European-profile Train Set, ca. 1900

Value (2004) | $8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction

A friend of my husband's was cleaning out his house and found this up in the attic in a cardboard carton marked "Live Steam Train, 1907." My husband's friend knew that my husband liked trains and said, "You want this?" My husband said, "Yeah, I'll take it."

Well, first thing we do is we look right here, and right there on the boiler front, you can see "MC." This is "Marklin Company," so it is made by Marklin in Germany. Now, Marklin was probably the Rolls-Royce of toy trains, and this is from a very early period, circa 1900. It is gauge two, which is a fairly large gauge, and it is in extraordinary condition. And it is live steam; this train was actually operated like the real ones, with steam power. And what's amazing, it even has the original burner. We pull that off. You'd fill this with flammable fluid. This burner would build up steam and then it would pull it down the track. Now, look at the detail here. It actually has opening doors on each coach. The roofs open up to reveal the interior. Little spikes... And they had little papier-mâché passengers that would ride, and that you could see inside the windows. And being a European coach, it had first- and second-class markings on the coaches. You have a full set, three coaches, in really, really fine condition. It could stand some cleaning. Then you have a couple of extra cars. This is a boxcar, and also very European with the little compartment for the trainman to ride in. And this is an oil tanker. Again, great detail, noting the little steps going up and the opening door so that the trainman could actually have a place in there. And they actually would sometimes come outfitted with little papier-mâché men. You can get reproduction people.

Oh, you can?

Absolutely. And they're almost exact copies. They're just little papier-mâché seated figures, hand-painted. Now, on this passenger set, I would say the value today would be in the $6,000-to-$8,000 range.

Whoa. Great.

And it is a real gem. This boxcar is a fairly standard boxcar, also great Marklin detail with the opening doors, is in the $300-to-$400 range. This oil tank is a good bit rarer, and especially since it has English wording on it, it makes it a lot more desirable to American collectors. This car is probably in the $1,800-to-$2,000 range.

Wow. For one car?

One car.


So, altogether, I would say you have, easily, a set of trains here that are worth in the $8,000-to-$10,000 range.


Quite a nice little gift.


You know, this is also what we call an English-profile engine, or European-profile, because it doesn't have the cow catcher. The American trains would have that cow catcher. If this were an American-profile set, it would be worth even more to the American market.

Appraisal Details

Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2004)
$8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction
Reno, NV (August 14, 2004)

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