A lockdown revival in model trains?

02 November 2020
Model train sets valued at £10,000 sell for more than £33,000 at Ewbank's

Clear evidence of the lockdown revival of model train sets came at Ewbank’s Auctions in Surrey on October 28 when a collection valued at £10,000 sold for more than £33,000.

Individual lots were soaring over estimate, with some going for more than twice expectations.
“It was a very good collection and largely in untouched condition, so very attractive to serious collectors, but the level of interest went way beyond even that,” said Ewbank’s specialist Andy Delve.
“Only three days before the sale I read a national newspaper article about how orders had risen significantly at Hornby, Peco and other toy suppliers during lockdown as people reassessed how they used their time and headed back to train sets and model cars. Our auction results reflect that heightened interest.”

One lot, a collection of 40 boxed railway coaches by Bachmann expected to fetch as little as £50 sold for £380.

Built up over many years by the dedicated collector, the huge collection only came to light when his sister went to clear out his house after his death.

The collector had worked on the railways himself, and much of the collection is in very good condition. His love of trains went back to his childhood when his mother, who was French, worked for the French national railway company SNCF.

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“We were taken all over Europe,” said his sister, who has consigned the collection. “He loved trains all his life, but really started collecting when we had a recession and he had to give up work as a commercial artist. Then he went to work for South West Trains. He loved it and the money was very good, so he started buying seriously then.”

His love of Continental railways can be seen by several model examples in the collection, but he was an unusual collector. “He didn’t want a model railway, he just wanted the trains and the coaches. He always bought the best. I think it just reminded him of his childhood,” said his sister. She had no idea just how important the collection was to him.

“I knew he’d got some trains, but it wasn’t something we talked about because it wasn’t really of much interest to me. It was only when we started to go through the house that I realised just how many he had. They were in every drawer and cupboard.”

Ewbank’s noted significant price uplifts for other collectable toys as well, especially model cars.
A die-cast boxed set of the Ferrari Racing Team cars doubled estimate at £500, while a Tri-Ang mechanical Magic Sports Car pitched at £150-250 made £550.

Small collections of boxed Dinky cars and other collectable trains also went consistently above hopes.“I knew this auction would be a golden opportunity for collectors to fill gaps in their own collections, especially with items that may no longer be in production, but the renewed interest from the wider public has also played its part,” said Delve.