Thomas the Bank Engine: £850 vintage train tops list of most valuable toy trains hiding in attics

One of the UK’s leading personal finance guidance platforms has revealed a list of the world’s most valuable toy trains ahead of Christmas 2021, to encourage people to check their attics for any valuable collectibles that might be lying around.

Forbes Advisor partnered with toy expert Peter Jenkinson to create the guide, which identifies the most valuable toy trains and the prices they can command, and offers suggestions for budding collectors on what to invest in and keep an eye out for when starting a train collection.

The five valuable train sets people may have in their attic, and their values, are:

  1. Marklin 0 Gauge Loco – £850
  2. Bachmann Spectrum G-Gauge – £700
  3. A complete set of station staff in the original box, including stationmaster, military policeman, guard waving flag, porters with trolleys and various pieces of luggage –  £550
  4. Thomas the Tank engine Hornby clockwork train 1983 – £500
  5. Bournemouth Belle made by Hornby Dublo, 1963 – £500

With Brits set to spend an estimated £84.7bn over this Christmas period and train set manufacturer Hornby making a profit for the first time in over a decade, Jenkinson has provided tips for new collectors looking to invest in the toy train sector:

  • UK, German and American markets hold the most interest in toy trains, and are the most potential for profitable investments.
  • Original packaging is always important, and can boost value, however for trains this is not as important as for other toy collectables.
  • Prototypes or limited editions of certain engines hold their value extremely well, but the condition is key for these types of investments.
  • Any Thomas The Tank Engine pieces from the 1960s or celebratory pieces from the 60th anniversary in 2005, with original packaging, can increase in value.

Financial expert Kevin Pratt of Forbes Advisor, says: “We all must wonder now and again if we have any ‘cash in the attic’… and the rising popularity of vintage toys means we don’t need to rely on finding a piece of Ming-dynasty porcelain that once saw service as a fruit bowl or a forgotten masterpiece by JMW Turner. Humble toy trains from recent decades can command prices into hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

“Key things to look out for when you’re rooting around the loft, garage or shed are the condition of the items – ‘mint’ might make you a mint – and collectability. So if you do a bit of research on an unearthed attic asset and discover it is rare and much sought-after, you could be onto a winning ticket.”

The five most valuable train sets ever sold or listed for sale, are:

  1. Lionel Brute with a 213 Lift Bridge offered for sale at $1m (£754,705)
  2. Lionel Standard Gauge Set from 1934 – a mint-in-the-box train set with a 400E Engine & State Passenger Cars – £187,000
  3. Lionel Brass Prototype for the 700E Hudson – £58,000
  4. A hand-made coal powered model of the Flying Scotsman circa 1930 – £30,000
  5. Barby G-Gauger model railway – £22,000

About Tessa Clayton

A former Chief Sub of Red magazine, Tessa Clayton is the Digital Editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. As a freelance journalist she specialised in writing about parenting and family life, and has contributed to a wide variety of publications and websites including Tesco online, Mother & Baby, Livingetc, Junior, Boots Health & Beauty, Practical Parenting and babycentre.co.uk. Get in touch at tessa.clayton@biz-media.co.uk

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