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Lionel Trains: A Pictorial History of Trains and Their Collectors

Lionel Trains: A Pictorial History of Trains and Their Collectors

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Lionel Trains: A Pictorial History of Trains and Their Collectors

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Lançado em:
Dec 20, 2004


LIONEL TRAINS, A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF TRAINS & THEIR COLLECTORS allows a unique look at the history of LIONEL from a collector's point of view & includes hundreds of photos of individual train layouts, locomotives, rolling stock, accessories, in addition to engaging stories from Lionel enthusiasts nationwide. Includes a special interview with Richard Kughn, past-president of LIONEL & renowned collector of toy trains & gives an interesting glimpse into his one-of-a-kind collection. Includes thousands of full-color & historic photos, as well as the on-going history of LIONEL trains.
Lançado em:
Dec 20, 2004

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Lionel Trains - Turner Publishing

Licensed by Lionel® LLC

Publishers of America’s History

412 Broadway • P.O. Box 3101 • Paducah, KY 42002-3101

(270) 443-0121


All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2004 Publishing Rights: Turner Publishing Company

Turner Publishing Staff:

Randy Baumgardner, Editor

Frene Melton, Designer

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Photographs from both the Carail Museum and the collection of Richard & Linda Kughn courtesy of RM Auctions, Inc., One Classic Car Drive, Blenheim, ON, Canada, NOP1AO, and Kughn Enterprises, 22482 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington, MI, 48336-3223.


Library of Congress Control No.: 2004100379

Printed in the United States of America.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Special Thanks . . .

to the Lionel Corporation, bringing families together for more than 100 years;

to Richard Kughn, for perputuating the joy of toy trains for all to enjoy, and;

to RM Auctions, Inc., for providing photo images from the Carail Musuem and the Richard and Linda Kughn collection.

From the Joseph Bolton collection.

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Special Thanks . . .

Introduction - Lionel Trains and Their Collectors

A Historical Timeline of Lionel Trains

An Interview with Richard Kughn

Profiles of Lionel Irain Collectors



Lionel Trains and Their Collectors

For centuries, men have collected items of worth, objects that for whatever reason seem special to each individual. Some things are collected for their beauty, some for their value, and in many cases, things are collected because of a person’s special interests.

The list of collectibles is long ... guns, knives, trading cards, sports memorabilia, comic books, fine wines, art, antiquities, stamps ... virtually anything can be collected. Many of these are put away, protected from use and tucked away for show behind glass. But this is not the case for many Lionel collectors.

For those who treasure Lionel products, the passion begins in childhood. A walk by a store window display or a glance through the Lionel catalog leads to a gift under the Christmas tree. With help from parents, the child learns how to set up and operate his new toy, becoming enthralled by the motion, smells and sounds of the train going around track. Decades later, this passion is passed down to children and grandchildren and becomes a way for families to share time together.

This book takes a unique look at Lionel Trains by focusing on hundreds of these collectors. For most, the collection is an active display meant to be operated and enjoyed. Through these stories the history of Lionel is revealed and at the same time demonstrates why Lionel continues to enchant children of all ages.

The Lionel Doll. From the Nick Bishop collection.

A Historical Timeline of Lionel Trains

New York Central Engine and Tender. From the Richard Kughn collection.

Historical Timeline


Joshua Lionel Cohen, Founder of the Lionel Corporation, was born in New York City. He later changed his last name to Cowen.

Old engine, from the Henry Wilson collection.


Cowen’s first commercial success came when he developed a fuse to ignite a photographer’s magnesium powder.


Cowen developed his first toy train item, a small wooden gondola car with a motor concealed beneath the floor.


Cowen issued the first Lionel Catalog.


This year’s Catalog featured the trains and some accessories, including the famous #340 Suspension Bridge and City Hall Park Trolley.

The Lionel Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York on March 13, with Cowen and his partner, Grant, each holding 2 shares.


The mechanical Derrick Car became the first Lionel animated car.


Mario Caruso was hired as manufacturing supervisor, marking the beginning of a long and productive relationship.


Lionel’s sales reached $8,000 per year.


Lionel decided to replace the two-rail track with three rail tracks, which Cowen called Standard gauge.


Lionel produced the first model of a real train—a toy version of the locomotive that was in use on the Baltimore and Ohio’s Camden line.

The Lionel plant moved to 4 and 6 White Street to gain more manufacturing space. Power machinery was also added for shaping and stamping metal parts and bodies.

Cowen’s son, Lawrence, was born and he would later become the Lionel Boy featured on most pre-war Lionel packaging and advertising.

Transformers, from the Arthur Lade collection


Lionel expanded its product line to include a cattle car, box car, a pullman car, a flat car, and a gondola car.


Cowen adopted the slogan that claimed Lionel trains were the Standard of the World. He applied this slogan to Lionel’s train track calling it Standard gauge.


Cowen legally changed his name from Cohen to Cowen. The reason for this is unknown, although some think it was to avoid any anti-semitism with Cowen being Jewish and most of the toy business being protestant.

Six Standard gauge cars, including: Ives #1771 Lumber Flatcar; Ives #1860 Observation Car with missing truck; Ives #1766 Coach with missing wheels; Lionel #1767 Baggage Car with many parts missing; Lionel #337 Pullman; Lionel #112 Gondola. From the Richard Kughn collection.

The Lionel factory moved to New Haven, Connecticut—the offices remained in New York.

Lionel began to offer electric locomotives based upon the New York Central type-S electric engine.


The company printed its first multicolor catalog.


The American public spent $300,000 on Lionel trains and accessories.


Growth forced another move of offices and factory to Newark, New Jersey.


To compete with their biggest competitor, Ives, Lionel, released its first line of O gauge Train models.


The trade group Toy Manufacturers of America was founded. The association helped convince the U.S. government to allow producers to continue making toys during World War I.


Lionel once again moved the factory to Hillside, New Jersey and employed some 700 people.


The company became so large that it was reorganized and became the Lionel Corporation, with Cowen as president.

Lionel #254 Engine and Observation Car. From the Richard Kughn collection.


The printing of Lionel’s annual catalog was affected by the printers’ strike in New York. Cowen mailed apology letters to all those who had requested the catalog and promised they would get a catalog next year if he had to buy a printing plant and print it himself.

Original 1930 Lionel Catalog. From the Thomas Nuzzo collection.


For the first time Lionel’s sales broke $1 million and Cowen was awarded a $15,000 bonus.


Arthur Raphael was hired as Sales Manager and was credited with getting Lionel trains in millions of homes across the country.


La Precisa was established by Lionel in Italy to provide high quality tooling and stamping as well as die casting models.

Lionel redesigned its trains, powering them with what Lionel called a super motor. The original motor was no longer sufficient with the trains pulling more cars.


Lionel hired Frank Pettit who would go on to design the famous postwar vibrotor motor system and become chief of Lionel’s development team.


Lionel celebrated 25 years of train sales. To meet challenge of a new competitor, Dorfan, who offered trains that could be taken apart and reassembled, Lionel issued Bild-a-loco which allowed owners to build their own locomotives from factory parts.

Wells Fargo Car #3370, 1963. From the Joseph Arbuglio collection.


Lionel opened its famous factory showroom at 15 East 26th Street in New York City. All the latest Lionel products were displayed for the entire public to see.


A major competitor to Lionel, Ives, declared bankruptcy. Lionel and American Flyer joined together to purchase Ives. They divided up the patents with the much desired reverse unit patent going to Lionel.


Lionel took advantage of the new advertising medium, radio, and offered kids entertainment with a show called Uncle Don and his Lionel Engineers Club.

The stock market crashed and had a devastating effect on Lionel, as it did most companies at the time.


Lionel had assumed complete control of The Ives Company.


Lionel suffered its first losing year. They went into the red by $207,000.


Lionel launched the Lionel magazine, for 50 cents boys could get tips for building model railroads.


Lionel shut down the Ives plant, dosing the book on this famous American toy producer.

TTM-#7783 Ives Toys boxcar, 1983. From the Frank Arno collection.

Lionel once again took advantage of the radio advertising benefits and introduced buyers to Jimmy and Mike through the development of a radio program that aired twice a week from November 5 to December 20. Listeners could tune in each week and hear the exciting stories that Mike the old engineer told to Jimmy the Lionel engineer.

This year’s catalog unveiled various new products such as Chugger and something for the girls, a Lionel Range.


Lionel was faced with bankruptcy and Cowen placed the company in receivership.

The Mickey Mouse handcar was issued along with a variety of Disney Items.

The M10000 Union Pacific Streamliner was released.


1 share common stock from The Lionel Railroad Company.

This year would come to be known as the year of the whistle. Lionel released the locomotive whistle to the public and it was an instant success.

Lionel focused on the lower end of the train market and real life action accessories, the Automatic Gateman that guarded the crossing with his lantern that really lit up being one of them. This accessory remains in production today.

#773 NYC Semi-Scale Hudson Steam Locomotive, 1950. From the Donald Goebel collection.

Lionel offered a departure from trains and introduced the new Lionel Craft Boat.


This years catalog featured no Standard gauge electric locomotive sets, as the company began phasing them out.

As another departure from trains Lionel released The Lionel Airplane. The design of the Lionel Pylon Drive that was used in these planes became the basis for all airplanes and is still used today.


With the depression about over Lionel’s profits were increasing and the company was producing 350,000 train sets per year.

To appeal to the new adult hobby of building model railroads, Lionel released an exquisitely accurate rendering of the New York Central’s Hudson type steam locomotive.

The Lionel Corporation went public and issued 77,500 shares of stock for $12 a share.

Lionel experienced its first strike, some 200 workers walked off the job seeking union recognition and better pay.


With big changes happening this year at Lionel, the company introduced the new OO gauge line to much fanfare.

The company slowly began converting all its locomotive production from pressed metal and tin to die-casting.


Lionel discontinued its Standard gauge toy trains.


Cowen’s son, Lawrence left his wallstreet job to join Lionel full-time as Vice-President and Controller.


With the War going full force all toy production across the country was suspended, so companies could devote their equipment to the production of war materials.

After much resistance Lionel finally became unionized.


Lawrence applied to the United States Maritime Commission asking that Lionel be granted the commissions M Award for merit for outstanding wartime production.


Mario Caruso, Lionel’s works manager for 40 years announced he would be selling his 50,000 shares of stock and leave the company.

Lionel perfects the magnetic knuckle coupler.

1983 electric railway with lamp and Walt Disney electric 1981 Mickey Mouse figurine. From the Richard Kughn collection.

O gauge Lionel Christmas cars: Kiss Kringle, Joys of the Season Musical Boxcar, Christmas Season Aquarium Car, Christmas Work Caboose, Rudolph Bobbing Head Boxcar, Mistletoe Express, 1999 Christmas Boxcar. From the Ed and Jayne Freihofer collection.


On August 7 Lionel’s war contracts were terminated with the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima the day before. This brought on a frantic period as toy makers rushed to have a new line out by Christmas.

The special Christmas set Lionel released marked the first use of the operating knuckle coupler trucks, setting the tone for the realism that was to dominate the early postwar years.


Smoke, electronic control, the new Pennsylvania Railroad’s twenty-wheel steam turbine, a water tower and a host of new freight cars were unveiled at the annual Toy Fair in New York.

Cowen’s wife of 42 years passed away due to complications from a heart condition.

#3472 Automatic Milk Car with plaiform and controls. From the Michael Franzone collection.


Lionel released the Operating Milk Car that became a classic.


Lionel entered the field of diesel power by releasing its New York Central F3 diesel and retooling the GG-1.

Cowen was remarried on November 21 to Lillian Herman.


With a huge day long party on the factory grounds Lionel celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Lionel got into the TV advertising business early by developing a fifteen-minute program called The Lionel Club House, with Joe DiMaggio as host.


Cowen sent four train sets and accessories to the West Berlin World Youth Festival at the request of the West Berlin Mayor to celebrate the western way of life.


Arthur Raphael passed away and marked the loss of Lionel’s most creative sales mind.

Lionel #2321 Lackawanna FM TrainMaster, earliest production, 1954-56. From the Robert Howe collection.


With $32.9 million in sales this was Lionel’s peak year.


The #2321 Fairbanks-Morse TrainMaster diesel was released and was the first major unit to be made of pressed-steel rather than a die-cast floor.


The famous Congressional Passenger Set was introduced.


Lionel released a pastel-colored girl’s train; this turned out to be one of their biggest marketing failures. Girls wanted to run real trains, so sales were dismal. It is a collectors item today.


Cowen announced his retirement.


Lionel released a historic train, the General Civil War train set. The release was tied to the anniversary of the Civil War.


At the age of 88, the founder of Lionel, Joshua Cowen passed away on September 8th.

The Helios, a helium filled blimp, was released to try once again to offer something outside of trains, but failed.


Ronald Saypol, Cowen’s grandson-in-law gained Control of the company and would take the company into the 80’s.


Much of the train line manufacturing relocated to Mount Clemens, Michigan, home of General Mills Model Kit Subsidiary MPC.


Lionel is folded into General Mills’ Fundimensions along with MPC and Craft Masters.

#1352 Rocky Mountain Freight train set. From the Richard Kughn collection.

Lionel Girl’s Train Set. New York Central Gondola, #19712 Pennsylvania caboose, #19235 MKT boxcar, Lionel Lines engine and tender, #19317 Lehigh Valley Hopper, #19234 New York Central boxcar. From the Richard Kughn collection.


Lionel was turning out 3,000 sets a day and had to expand the facilities by 150%. MPC was caught off guard by this huge demand for trains.


To counter complaints that the new Lionel products did not live up to the performance standards of the old line, the MPC reintroduced the F3 Diesel.


For the country’s bicentennial MPC released a special train set, a loco called the spirit of ’76 and a caboose with thirteen cars representing the original thirteen states.

Riding The Rails starring Johnny Cash was sponsored by Lionel and brought Lionel back into the national spotlight.


Lionel moved the Lionel manufacturing facilities to Mexico, which proved to be fateful. Sales fell because Mexico could not produce items at adequate levels.

An assortment of TCA items including two Seaboard 1976 engines, three TCA Bicentennial Special passenger cars, and three U.S. Mail and Post Office boxcars. From the Richard Kughn collection.


General Mills realizing its mistake brought Lionel back to the United States, to Mt. Clemens, Michigan.

General Mills began to break up its toy holdings and merged Lionel into Kenner-Parker Company.


Richard Kughn learned that Kenner-Parker wanted to unload Lionel and he quickly negotiated a deal to acquire the company.


The 700E was reissued and was in huge demand.


Neil Young formed a partnership with Kughn called Liontech to provide Lionel with a state-of-the-art sound and control system.


The unveiling of the TrainMaster Command Control system for model trains was a big breakthrough for Lionel and Liontech. This allowed for complete control of any AC-POWERED locomotive on a layout.


Kughn sold Lionel to Wellspring LLC with Neil Young as one of their investors.


Wellspring issued Lionel’s first fully illustrated catalog since the postwar period.


With the company’s centenary 4 years away Lionel created a special Century Club and the members were offered unique Lionel pieces.


Wellspring and Associates hired Richard Maddox as president and chief operating officer of Lionel LLC.

The A&E Cable Channel lists Lionel trains as number 4 on their list of toys of the century.


Lionel celebrated 100 years.

Joshua Lionel Cowen Limited Edition engine and tender displayed in a glass case. From the Richard Kughn collection.


Lionel begins the process of suspending domestic manufacturing in favor of offshore supply in Korea and China.

Lionel donates all profits from the Lionel United States Flag Boxcar to the September 11th Fund.

Lionel names William L. Bracy Chief Executive Officer of Lionel LLC on October 15, 2001.

A layout featuring the #616 Flying Yankee. From the Nick Bishop collection.


Lionel partners with Wendy’s, the third largest quick-service hamburger chain in the world, and is featured as the theme for their Kids’ Meal toy.

The Travel Channel Network names Lionel Visitor’s Center as one of the nation’s Top Ten Toylands for families.


The United States Patent & Trademark office granted official registration to the classic Lionel orange and blue colors joining the pristine ranks of McDonald’s, John Deere and Crayola.

For the first time in 26 years, Lionel re-enters the HO model train market with the first of several die-cast steam locomotives, and injection molded diesels beginning with the Union Pacific 4-6-6-4 Challenger.

From the Arthur Del Prete collection.

Lionel and Mervyn’s teamed up to bring in the 2003 holiday season.


Lionel reaches 500 communities in 46 states across a 22,000-mile route system as it boards Amtrak in 2004. Children from across the United States have the opportunity to tell the world why they like riding trains for a chance to win Lionel ready to run train sets. The partnership couples children with writing, travel and trains.

Lionel decides to proceed with the manufacture of the Amtrak Acela, the most technologically advanced model of America’s most technologically advanced train. No O gauge model train from Lionel, or any other train maker in any gauge, has ever contained so many never-before-seen features.

Lionel names Jerry Calabrese Chief Executive Officer on October 7.

An Interview with Richard Kughn

Vintage shot showing a Lionel layout Richard built as a teenager.

Designed and created as the signature piece of Carail, this layout is the realization of a personal dream of Richard Kughn. At more than 1,500 square feet, this magnificent layout is one of the world’s grandest model train creations. A majestic mountain towers over eleven

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