Lionel 113 Station AF 4689 Lionel Trolley Ives 1764

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By Rev. Philip K. Smith

Photo courtesy Dave McEntarfer

In 1932, Lionel, by then sole owner of the IVES Corporation, published the final IVES catalog and introduced two similar sets. Both featured a 2-B-2 electric loosely based on New Haven prototypes and three matching passenger cars. The "O" Gauge set, reproduced by MTH in 2007 and 2008 in three historic color schemes, was featured in the Fall 2007 issue of Tinplate Times. Having received a number of compliments, this author is happy to tell the story of the other set, comprising Wide Gauge No. 1764, Baggage Car No. 1767, Pullman No. 1766, and Observation No. 1768. Both sets are beautiful and elegant.

Photo courtesy Marc Kuffler

But No. 1764, having larger pilot wheels and taller drivers that extend into its boxcab, has a more massive grace, a more commanding presence, than its petite "O" Gauge counterpart, No. 1694, whose small drivers derive from Lionel steam locomotives, most likely Nos. 257 or 261.

Like the "O" Gauge set (No. 1616), this Wide Gauge set was cataloged only in 1932. But fates of the passenger cars were polar opposites. Lionel manufactured the "O" Gauge cars from 1933 through 1937 but sold them only in uncataloged sets, usually "Department Store Specials." They were relettered LIONEL LINES, renumbered 1685-6-7, and downgraded with 4-wheel trucks. They were painted their original colors of beige and maroon in 1933 and painted in three different schemes after that. In stark contrast, the Wide Gauge cars, also relettered LIONEL LINES, were illustrated on page 14 of the 1934 catalog as "No. 367E Passenger Outfit," headed by No. 385E with "Chugger" and "Distant Control." They retained their original numbers and received glowing praise: ". . . new this year. They are low, 15 inches long and realistically proportioned. All cars have six-wheel trucks, interior illumination and removable roofs." Listed separately on page 17, Pullman No. 1766 is extolled: "A new model this year, extremely long and equipped with six wheel trucks. 15 inches long and 4 1/2 inches high. Price $4.25.

Photo courtesy Dave McEntarfer

These cars were always cataloged with terra-cotta sides, maroon roofs and underframes, cream windows and doors, and brass trim. However, over the years the sides were painted red. Brass trim gave way to nickel trim. In original sets, the most obvious clue is nickel trim on the locomotive, No. 385E, instead of earlier brass trim.

Another small but important difference is evident on baggage car doors. In 1932, MAIL and BAGGAGE are rubber-stamped on IVES doors. LIONEL LINES doors have embossed panels instead of rubber stampings. These panels can be hard to see, but they match panels on contemporary baggage car doors as well as panels on Williams "O" Gauge Madison baggage car and combination ("combine") car doors.

In 1935 the cars roll along in a larger, more dramatic drawing as the WASHINGTON SPECIAL, No. 367W WITH WHISTLE $37.50, again headed by No. 385E (p. 18). Listed next to BLUE COMET cars and STATE cars on page 25, No. 1766 receives even higher praise: "One of the most accurately proportioned Standard gauge passenger cars made. Inset windows, deeply embossed details, swinging doors and six wheel trucks. Roof is removable. 15 inches long, 4 1/2 inches high Price $4.25"

In 1936, Lionel pulls out all the stops (p. 21). Below the cars is an aerial photo of the U.S. Capitol. A red, white and blue banner proclaims WASHINGTON SPECIAL. The set description trumpets, "Six feet of model craftsmanship with a racing, whistling, chugging, gun metal engine [No. 385E] leading three accurately proportioned, illuminated twelve-wheel cars, including interestingly detailed baggage car having four sliding doors." The price is still $37.50.
In 1937, the Year of the Scale-Model Hudson, the same illustrations and copy are published on page 25. The price increases to $40.00.

In 1938, the red, white and blue banner, relettered STANDARD GAUGE, extends across the middle of each of four pages (pp. 28-31). One set is placed above the banner; another, below. The same drawing of No. 367W is printed in darker colors below the banner on page 29. Gone is the photo of the U.S. Capitol and the name. The price is still $40.00.

In 1939, Standard Gauge sets are spread across pages 30 and 31. Beneath each set, components are listed separately. Small black-and white line drawings offer complementary sets. Below No. 367W is No. 369W, a freight set. The catalog copy is the same but both pages lack the energy, the enthusiasm, the fire of the good old days. The Great Depression is easing its grip, but Standard Gauge is losing ground to smaller "O" Gauge.

In 1940, the catalog opens with photos and closeups of elaborate "O" Gauge layouts. Standard Gauge, like the No. 115 Illuminated Station in the photograph on page 2, is relegated to the background. It is not listed in THE SIX DIFFERENT STYLES OF LIONEL TRACK on page 9. SOLID RAILS [T-rails] and "OO" have replaced it. Not one Standard Gauge train is listed.

Photo courtesy Marc Kuffler

No. 1764 has been reproduced by James Cohen and by Pride Lines. One can also hope to see No. 1764 and matching cars in a MTH TINPLATE TRADITIONS catalog so both sets can be displayed - better yet, run - to enjoy the beauty, elegance and sophistication that was Ives.

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