Category Archives: Historical Articles

Marklin “EXPERT” Series and W. Seelig of London, UK

It’s April 29, 1937 and you’re sitting at your desk trying to organize your Marklin purchase orders for the upcoming months at your sports and fishing tackle store in Hall Green, United Kingdom. The day is weary and the work is tough but do not worry, W. Seelig LTD, London’s leading sales organisation is there to help!

Last month, coming straight out of a UK estate, a wonderful collection of old dealer materials from the companies of W. Seelig LTD and 1930s Marklin dealer Eric Willmont was found.  The material gives an incredible insight into the operation of Marklin dealers and importers especially for the UK market which was quite different from other markets across Europe. Marklin dealers throughout the UK would submit a purchase order to W. Seelig LTD who acted as the middle man between the dealers and Marklin. W. Seelig, with the help of Marklin, produced what they called Marklin EXPERT series booklets, seven of them to be exact. These booklets were by no means meant to replace product catalogs but rather showed a glimpse of the Marklin product line which would be particularly interesting to UK purchasers. A listing of the EXPERT series library is listed in the 3rd expert series book:

These booklets were printed by W. Seeling LTD in the UK as advertising pieces specifically for the UK market. They featured Gauge O and Gauge I trains of the LMS, LNER, GW, and SR railways. The booklets all carry the common selling points that the new Marklin approved high-current safety railway is “SAFE, SIMPLE, and STRONG.”

SAFE – The Authorities and Electrical Experts have declared it to be perfectly safe. There is no possible danger of shock or fire, so efficient are the miniature sub-stations.
SIMPLE – As simple as switching on the electric light in the room. One touch and the train moves. Another notch and she gathers speed. Controlled from the sub-station switchboard. Can be started, stopped, and reversed at will.
STRONG – “MARKLIN Toys are Better Toys.” Only the finest materials are used and first-class workmen employed. So sturdily constructed that a MARKLIN model will last a life-time.

Marklin high-current safety railway ad

These documents also provide incredible insight in the Marklin “Better Toys” product line which was divided into two categories.  “A” Category: Mechanical Goods including electric, clockwork, and steam locos and train sets; electric signals, lamps, and search-lights; high current railway accessories; steam engines; clockwork boats and steamers; motor cars; and patent tops with driving sticks, etc, etc.  and “B” Category: Non-Mechanical Goods including model rolling-stock, rails, accessories, working models for any motive power, guns, howitzers, rifles, pistols, race-games, stoves, bedsteads, pumps, water-cans, etc, etc.

One brochure also states:

All Marklin toys are boxed and labelled, so that it is an easy matter to distinguish one class of toy from another.

  1. Working models (steam engines or electric motors) and artillery have a WHITE LABEL with 2 boys’ heads
  2. Marklin Tops have a WHITE LABEL with boy’s and girl’s head.
  3. Cooking stoves, pumps, bedsteads, model baths and bathrooms have a WHITE LABEL with 2 girls’ heads

All genuine Marklin “Better Toys” bear a label on the box showing the laughing heads.  (it is important to note that these labels were also used in the 1930s and early 1940s for the 00 scale product range). 

A letter address to Mr. Eric Willmont, the owner of the store inquiring about Marklin trains, also mentioned the prospect of having Marklin “00” Gauge in his store.  The letter from W. SEELIG Limited wrote in response that “Maerklin Miniature RAilway is proving to be an enormous success, and we look forward to being favoured with your esteemed order.”  This letter, dated 29th April 1937, is written at a crucial time in the export market for Marklin 00 Gauge railways.  First introduced in 1935, the entire product line was already being exported worldwide and the production of special export models (American versions, British versions, etc.) is a testament to its success.   From examining the box stamp codes of some British version models (LMS and LNER), I estimate that the first batch was produced in the fourth quarter of 1937 but surely normal production German outline trains were exported to other countries well before this date.

Marklin at Carinhall: Hermann Goring’s Miniature Railway

Much has been discussed about Hermann Goring’s miniature trains: how did he get them? how many trains did he have? where have the trains gone? In this article all of these questions will be discussed even though many of the questions will remain unanswered. Thanks to many months of research, incredible photos and documents were discovered relating to Hermann Goring’s railways and his house at Carinhall where they were contained. Research proved that many individual sources (books, magazine articles, etc.) were not all 100% accurate but that the information would only make sense when all of these smaller sources were put together and analyzed as a whole. It is my hope that this article will become the basis for further research to be done on this topic.

It is first important to understand that Hermann Goring, the commander of the Luftwaffe (German air force during WWII) and Reichsmarschall of the German forces, was a rather corpulent and certainly gregarious man. He made every effort to dramatize a situation and blur the details in order to make himself look all the better in the eyes of his admirers. As a self proclaimed top ace in WWI, Hermann Goring won countless medals for downing an incredible amount of enemy planes and in some stories, Goring supposedly was able to take on a French bomber all on his own. It was later found in his personal diaries that many of these accounts of incredible heroism and courage were ill-founded and in many cases entirely untrue and fraught with embellishments. This characteristic of Goring is very important to take into account when analyzing documents and other pieces of information which come from him alone and are not corroborated by other sources.

Figure 1 Goring standing in front of his plane during WWI

Goring also had a special liking for antiques and other priceless historical artifacts including Greek statues, Rembrandt paintings, art sculptures, and more. Most of these pieces were acquired (stolen) when German forces attacked a city. Special teams would be in charge of looting museums, libraries, and private collections and then taking an inventory of all the items to be dispersed across the Nazi chain of command. Many of these items ended up in Goring’s Carinhall, his summer hunting retreat located just northeast of Berlin. The cabin, modeled after a Swiss hunting lodge, underwent many renovations and expansions during its existance from roughly 1933 – 1945.

Figure 2 One of the many halls in Carinhall lined with priceless tapestries, paintings, and sculptures

As it so happens, Carinhall also housed Goring’s extensive model railway…model railways, that is. Yes, it is widely known that Goring had both Trix and Marklin railways, but many publications neglect to observe that Goring had two Marklin railways; one in his basement and one in his attic. One such book even shows a picture of Goring operating his Marklin O and I Gauge railway and the caption in the book states that this railway was in his attic. However, the differences between the attic railway and the basement layout can clearly be seen (not to mention the structure of the basement / attic — the basement has flat ceilings whereas the attic has sloped ceilings exactly as Carinhall had slanted roofs). The attic layout, which I believe was built first and then expanded into a basement layout, was probably put in place somewhere between 1933 (Carinhall’s initial building date) and 1938 (when this photo was taken).

Figure 3 Goring operating attic layout for house guests including Admiral von Horthy.

It is important to note that this is the attic layout because of the sloped ceilings seen at Goring’s left. Goring is wearing his typical outfit for his hunting cabin at Carinhall (vest with white shirt underneath). I date this picture to about 1938 because it if were any time after, Goring would have been wearing his Reichsmarschall uniform which he wore almost exclusively in photos after the date when he was promoted (February, 1938). The above photo also features what looks like the Marklin Rennbahn track on the inner elevated track sitting beside two regular O or I Gauge tracks. The car, however, does not look to be the typical red or white racing cars. Perhaps his Rennbahn system had a custom car / vehicle which went around the tracks. Whatever this vehicle was, it was most likely military-themed and possibly had some kind of weapon attached to it. The sloped ceilings of the attic are seen more clearly in the photo below, but the Rennbahn system is missing, meaning the photo was taken at an earlier date:

Figure 4 The attic layout probably mid to late 1930s featuring ME 70 12920 in gray and CCS 66 12921 (or 12920?)

The above photo might also be proof to the rumor that Goring had an overhead airplane system which could “bomb” trains below by dropping little wooden bombs at the push of a button. Supposedly he would put on a show for his guests by timing the track below and the plane above such that the little wooden bomb would land on the train. The left side of the photo above shows two wires which run the length of the room above and parallel to the tracks. This wiring would be perfect to string a plane to for a bombing run on the train below. A suitable mechanism for dropping wooden bombs would be an electromagnet on the bomb bay of the airplane which releases the bomb when the current is cut off (by way of a switch on the control panel). This might explain why there are two wires: one to hold the plane and the other to hold the wires which power the electromagnet.

The basement layout which I believe was created after the attic miniature railway was probably slightly larger than the attic layout and certainly became much more developed with elevated rails and a car racing system which was most likely borrowed from the attic layout. Rumor has it that as many as two Marklin employees also worked for an unknown period of time on Goring’s layout. Another first hand account states that the layout was built by Siemens & Halske, an electrical engineering company during that time. The play cellar which house the attic railway was approximately 240 square meters. Because no overall photos of the basement layout exist (as far as I know), I used 3D modeling and animation software to create a reconstruction of Goring’s basement layout. Using Goring’s approximate height (5 ft. 10 in.) and the known square-footage of the basement, the dimensions (Length X Width X Height) of the basement were calculated. Other features of the basement not seen in the historical photos are pure speculation. Whether he had expensive pieces of art or furniture in his basement is not known to me, but it certainly would fit with how the rest of Carinhall was decorated.

Figure 5 3D reconstruction of Goring

Figure 6 If the Carinhall basement were in fact rectangular, it would have been quite long!

Figure 7 CCS 12921 and TK 12921; It is not certain whether this photo is of the attic or basement layout, but I presume it was of the basement layout and taken by photographer Walter Frentz who visited Carinhall in 1945, when the attic layout had probably already been disassembled and moved into the basement

Figure 8 Basement railway: Goring at the controls smoking a cigar

Figure 9 Another view, Goring and some officers / soldiers observing Marklin railway in the basement (The book this image was found in incorrectly states

Figure 10 Basement layout — possibly later than previous photos as the layout is more developed with elevated tracks and racing system. In the background several models can be seen set up on the tabletop. The two on the left side look like artillery / mortar pieces while the on on the right is perhaps a tank or train-mountain gun piece.

What still remains unclear is where this train system and its pieces ended up after Carinhall was abandoned and destroyed in 1945. This is where much of the research turned up blank results: the itemized list of articles removed from Carinhall from workers could not be found, documents detailing the contents of Goring’s private train which was hidden in a tunnel for safety could also not be found, and the present-day grounds of Carinhall are supposedly protected which would circumvent any location research. Museums around the area do have Carinhall exhibits which contain old rusty trains which are literally torn to pieces and said to have been found at the site of the destroyed Carinhall. Others who have visited the site of Carinhall in present day also attest to the fact that train parts lay scattered in the dirt around the area. This does not, however, preclude the possibility of some of the more valuable trains being saved. An equal amount of stories exist which support the survival of some if not all of the train materials from Goring’s collection.

The idea that Goring had special production Marklin trains (e.g. Rheingold livery 40CM cars, 1930s Super-Modelle locomotives specially produced in I Gauge, etc.) still remains in question. It seems that these special order trains would have shown up in the pictures discovered in this article however none of them do. All of the trains pictured in this article are from normal production and typical of the time period in which the photos were taken.

Although this article hopefully presents a clear picture of Hermann Goring’s Marklin miniature railway, many questions still remain unanswered and particularly the most important question still has an unclear answer: where did all the trains end up?

Citations:

  • Figure 1: Göring: A Biography by David Irving; first published February 1989; ISBN: 0688066062
  • Figure 2: Die Kunstsammlung des Reichsmarschalls Hermann Göring : eine Dokumentation by Haase, Günther; published 2000
  • Figure 3: Hermann Göring Collection (Library of Congress); Hermann Göring’s activities, May-August, 1938, Photoarchiv Generalfeldmarschall Hermann Göring, v. 27, p. 206, no. 6.
  • Figure 4: Private photo collection
  • Figure 5: Self-made in Google SketchUp 8
  • Figure 6: Self-made in Google SketchUp 8
  • Figure 7: Private photo collection, photographer probably Walter Frentz who was one of the few photographers to take photos in color of the Nazi high command (he was frequently Hitler’s photographer and cameraman). This photo was also taken by Walter Frentz supposedly in 1945. The same locomotive is featured in that photo.
  • Figure 8: RSL, Spiegel TV. exact source unknown. Another reference can be found here.
  • Figure 9: Göring: A Biography by David Irving; first published February 1989; ISBN: 0688066062
  • Figure 10: Private photo collection

Further Reading

  • Der Reichsmarschall im Kriege (Eitel Lange)
  • Görings Reich : Selbstinszenierungen in Carinhall (Knopf / Martens )
  • Altes Spielzeug (A. Bangert )
  • Wer war Hermann Göring : Biographie (Wolfgang Paul)

External Links

  • Portuguese translation: http://webkits.hoop.la/topic/o-trem-marklin-de-goring
  • War History Online: http://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/marklin-carinhall-hermann-gorings-miniature-railway.html

Marklin “Miniatur-Autos” and the “Rennbahn” of the 1930s

Miniatur-Autos

The year 1935 brought several additions to the Marklin product range. Several cars under the “Miniatur-Autos” line were introduced for the first time as beautifully Zinc die-cast cars with rubber wheels and moving axles. The 1935/1936 main customer catalog offered a package of these cars numbered 5521 G/6 which included each of the non-clockwork cars that were released during that year. The base number 5521 would be the model number of many of the Marklin die-cast cars for years to come. The expanded product range in 1938/1939 brought a 8021 series which was for military vehicles and accessories. Such military vehicles included an 8021/1 camouflage tank and the 8021/14 G military persons transport vehicle. The inclusion of the letter “G” seems to indicate that the vehicle / motorcycle includes figures with the item, however, the 5521 G/6 package of 6 cars without figures is an exception.

1930s Marklin “Rennbahn”

Items from Marklin Rennbahn series are highly sought by collectors because they were only produced for a limited number of years and they were part of a very novel product line for Marklin. Sure Marklin produced tinplate vehicles and limousines since the turn of the century, but never had they made electric race car sets before that could run around on a slot track.  A brief overview of the product range for the Marklin Rennbahn system can be seen below:

Image Product details
The Marklin Rennbahn car 13301 offered in red (numbered “5”) or white (numbered “7”)
13329 G race clock for timing of track laps
13320 A curved slot track
13320 D straight slot track

Note that packaged sets including the 13301 G/1, 13301 G/2, 13301 G/12, 13301 G/22, and 13301 G/23 could also be purchased, each with different configurations of track and vehicles (white or red or both cars).

Dealer and Fair Promotions

The very nature of the Marklin “Miniatur-Autos” and the Rennbahn lends itself to an incredible array of promotional displays and layouts.  Since the vehicle toys were especially distinct from the Marklin trains of the period, they had to be cleverly incorporated into the Marklin dealer and toy fair promotions.  Much like the “elevated railway” and “rack railway” systems of the early 1900s, the new “Rennbahn” slot-racing cars would travel around the landscape of the main layout.  The display layout below “HIGHWAY-SHOWPIECE” of 1934 was probably the first layout to incorporate the Marklin Rennbahn into a well-designed layout.  The highway theme is supported by the inclusion of  an O-Gauge accessory, the 2620 B “Tankstelle.”  Although this piece was not intentionally built for the Rennbahn system, it goes well with the highway theme despite being in a proportionally smaller scale.

Marklin 1934 Display

The following year in 1935 a wonderful dealer layout probably custom built for select dealers who requested them can be found.  The layout features what looks like two independent Rennbahn tracks with two cars on each (can you spot all four cars?).   The two white cars with model number 13301 (in white, number “7” on the side) take the high track in the mountains while the two red cars also with model number 13301 (but numbered “5” on the side) take the tunnel route.

Marklin 1935 Display with Adler and Rennbahn

Several other aspects of the above layout are also important to note.  The layout features a wonderful assortment of trains including the historic “ADLERZUG” and also a locomotive which looks something like a TCE or TK variant which does not have a coal tender.  Among many custom built buildings and layout accessories, an incredibly famous piece can be spotted mid-mountain just under the Rennbahn bridge:  the majestic “MARKLIN VILLA.”  Perhaps in a future article this incredible piece will be more fully discussed, but it is important to note that we can see this building as early as 1935.  The villa is more commonly seen on the layout 700/210 from 00 catalog of 1936, but here we can see that it is possible the building was first made in 1935.  An even more important question is to consider what is around the villa.  One can spot what looks like two flags.  Perhaps they are the HK-Fahne 406?  It is very hard to say, but it is quite possible.  A black dot (presumably an HK-symbol) on a white circle can be made out against a dark rectangular background which is very characteristic of such flags.  The flag on the right is possibly turned away from the viewer, but nonetheless, the flags seem out of proportion because they look a little taller than the later released 406 Fahne.  Perhaps they care custom-made flags produced before the full-production ones.

Marklin Villa on 1935 Layout

The below 1939 Leipziger Messe layout which is famous for containing many known 406 flags does also, in fact, have many of the vehicles from the die-cast “Miniatur-Autos” line.  From left to right can be seen 5521/31 OMNIBUS, a 5521/32 OMNIBUS, a 5521/51 Adler, a 5521/7 N limousine (or possibly a 5522/4 convertible with clockwork?), a 5521/3 sports car, and finally the 5521/8 L convertible “HORCH.”  Set aside in front of steps of the large 00 Stuttgart station is the Marklin Fuhrerwagen 5521/10.

Marklin 1939 Leipziger Messe photo from the 1939 catalog

Transitioning to a time in which large dealer displays and layouts were less common as in the 1930s and 1940s, the small display pieces for individual dealers to purchase become much more common.  Displays with rotating wheels, lights, and many moving components were quite common in Marklin dealer display accessories of the 1950s.  Each of the displays below are from dealer display catalogs from which dealers can order display items to set up in their store to display the Marklin products.  Note that these items are not produced by Marklin in whole.  During the 1950s and possibly during other years, Marklin contracted out its advertising and display materials to various graphic and display companies across Germany.  Some pieces, however, are incorporated from the Marklin production line including the metal erector set pieces from the 1954 rotating display and the lamp lights from the 1955 display.

Marklin 1954 Rotating Miniatur-Autos display

Marklin 1955 Miniatur-Autos Display

Marklin 1956 Miniatur-Autos Display

Decline of the Rennbahn and the die-cast vehicles

It is often questioned why the Marklin Rennbahn was discontinued and did not again appear after the war, but it probably follows the same story as what happened to the O Gauge production in the post-war years.  Marklin was moving towards a miniature railway system which could be highly expandable and also be built on a small budget.  The 1930s Rennbahn system produced by Marklin was proportionally large and would not seem to go well on an 00/HO scale layout.  It also did not have much room for expansion as Marklin did not produce many accessories for it (as can be seen from the Rennbahn layouts in which accessories are either custom-built or borrowed from the O Gauge production line).  It is no surprise, then, that the Rennbahn was not continued after the war and only later reappeared in the 1960s under the Marklin SPRINT line.   The smaller die-cast cars of the pre-war years reappeared in the post-war years in the 1950s, but were produced in a much different matter.  Instead of the very expensive and difficult Zinc die-casting process as in the pre-war years, the newer 1950s cars were mostly produced by using plastic injection molds.

Marklin Spur 00 Miniature Railway [1938 – 1943]

By 1938, the Marklin’s 00 Scale was already well established with the 700 series locomotives and train and was ripe for technological improvements. One of these improvements would be found in the reversing system of the locomotives. The locomotives of 1938 were equipped with the “Perfect-Reverse” system which allowed for remote reversing without the need of a separate devise. The 280 A transformer had a small red button on it which, when pushed, would change the direction of the locomotive. The 800 series reversing a system is shown below:

New 800 Series Reversing System

The ingenious use of an electromagnet cleverly reverse the direction of the locomotive by use of a cylindrical device with contacts on it which changes the direction of the current. The electromagnet is concomitant under village when the locomotive is running put only moves the cylinder when the voltages exceed approximately 18 volts. A hand reversing switch is also located in the rear of all 800 series locomotives. The motor housing and hand reversing lever are shown here:

Marklin 800 Series Motor Housing

Along with changes to the internal reversing components, the chassis frames were altered dramatically to make room for the new reversing system. While the frames of the 700 series locomotives integrated the gears and motor housing all into one, the 800 series made it separate.

The boxes from 1938 – 1943 also looked much different from their predecessors. The boxes now featured a pattern design with Marklin’s “bicycle” logo and the stylized Marklin text. This Commonly featured an orange and white label for the locomotives and a white label for the passenger cars.  See the Guide to Boxes for more information.

The year 1938 also marked a new series of export models.  800-Series models such as the HR 800 LMS and the SLR 800 LNER were German outline locomotives painted in British livery (either LMS or LNER).  The first locomotive produced strictly for an export market was also introduced, the infamous E 800 LMS.  Today this locomotive is highly sought after by many collectors because the locomotive was only available to customers of Great Britain.  Other trains like the 342 and 343 Speisewagen and Schlafwagen cars were overpainted for the British market and market “LMS” above the 342 or 343 inscriptions.  Such cars are also good indicators of the different couplers Marklin used during the years of 1937 and 1938 (the years the 342 E LMS was produced).  Below, a picture of two 342 E LMS cars; one with nickel-plated claw coupler of 1938 and the other with a black claw coupler of 1937.   In addition to having different couplers, the two 342 E LMS cars from different years are quite distinguishable from each other despite being just one year apart.

Comparison of couplers of 342 E LMS

Using special equipment, we can see the overpainting of the 342 coach to become the special 342 E LMS

It is also very important to note the differences not only technological improvements within the time period 1938 – 1943 (700 series to 800 series), but also its contrast between the next time period known as “Postwar.”  Here I will explain the common production methods of the lat 1930s (Prewar) in contrast with materials produced directly after the war (Postwar).  It is important to note, however, that these changes occurred gradually.  Some of the items which are described as “Postwar” are actually from 1945 because Marklin commonly used Prewar leftovers.  Here some examples of Prewar / Postwar production methods in the transitional phase:

Comparison of Prewar / Postwar wheels

SK / HR 800 front trucks Postwar (top-left) Prewar (bottom-right)

Post war 350/340 series "Guss/blech" trucks (top-left) Pre war "Vollguss" truck (bottom-right)

Postwar 353 roof and prewar 351 roof

350 series roofs under UV-Lamp

Many of the Marklin items used above such as the pre-war roof pre-war SK 800 truck were actually found in an SK 851 set from 1945.  The bruniert version of the SK 800 distributed for American GIs often contained pre-war parts such as the front truck support and front/rear trucks.  The metal wheels also resembled pre-war ones.   The  set also included 4 of the 350 series cars all from 1945.  Two of these cars are the 353 and 351 cars whose roofs are pictured above.  Interesting to see that one is pre-war and one is post-war yet they were both sold after the war in 1945.

The Marklin GOTTHARD Locomotive (Spur 0 & I)

The Marklin GOTHARD locomotive was introduced for the first time in 1920 for O Gauge under number S 64 3020.  The locomotive featured hand and remote reversing operation, 2 pantographs, and 3 electric lamps on the front of the locomotive.  This locomotive was 30cm long and was in production until 1926.  With the end of the S 64 3020 locomotive in 1926, two more GOTTHARD designs were introduced to the market.  One for Gauges O and one for Gauge I under the product numbers S 64 13020 and S 64 13021 respectively.  The O Gauge version was 25.6 cm long and the I Gauge version was 44cm long.  Both versions of the locomotive were only sold for two years with production ending in 1928.  Despite the difference in length and small design variations with respect to their predecessor, these locomotives all share the “/64” Fernschaltung (remote reversing system of the 1920s).  This was one of many in the series of Fernschaltung systems which, in later years, would be /65 /66 /67 and finally /70.

Marklin S 64 13021 Gotthard Locomotive

Above is shown an early version of the S 64 13021 GOTTHARD locomotive which was probably produced in 1926. The locomotive features two pantographs, 3 front electric headlights, a hand-painted brown body, and the “64” remote reversing system typical of the 1920s.  Notice on the nameplate below the identification tag which reveals information about the electric specifications and also the Marklin crest from the 1920s.

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