Category Archives: Historical Articles

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.

Marklin Spur 00 Miniature Railway [1935 – 1937]

Plans for the smaller 00 Scale began as early as 1933 (although it originally began in 1912) with the miniature “Liliputbahn” set that was sold for dealer display only.  The rising prices of raw materials and the consumer demand for a smaller layout system greatly slowed the production of O Gauge to make way for  the new Spur 00 (Ho Gauge — referred to as half-O).  The reversing system for the new locomotives of the 00 Scale was the “700” system which included a hand-lever in the rear of the locomotive for changing direction.  Remote reversing was possible through “Fernumschalter” U 700 (for locomotive) and either the 494 or 496 reversing box. The addition to a “U” to the end of the model number (i.e. RSU 700) indicates that the locomotive was sold with the reversing unit installed. In the initial release of the 00 Scale, there were only two locomotives, the RS 700 and the R 700.  The former an electric locomotive capable of overhead operation and the latter a small 0-4-0 steam locomotive.

Products in 1935 “Spur 00″ Catalog

Locomotives Cars Sets Buildings / Accessories Track / Electrical
R 700
RS 700
342 J
343 J
R 727
RS 727
R 741
RU 741
RS 741
RSU 741
R 765
RS 765
3600 A
3600 A 1/2
3600 A 1/4
3600 D
3600 D 1/2
3600 D 1/4
3600 D 1/5
3600 W
13600 EMW
3600 AR
3600 K

Marklin 1935 Catalog in German

New Product Additions of 1936

1936 brought several additions to the product line including the streamlined locomotive SLR 700 and the diesel electric rail cars TWE 700 in red/beige, blue, and all red.  According the to 1936 English catalog on the front cover,

The range of Marklin HO Gauge Miniature Table Railways which met with a great reception everywhere during their first year, has been extended by the introduction of new locomotives, coaches, and accessories.  The articles produced last year as a foundation for these new trains have proved so popular that no changes have been made.  The Gauge is 16.5 mm., the circle of track sonsists of 12 sections and has a diameter of 29.5 inches.

This makes it possible to construct an extensive model railway in a very confined space.  The rail sections and points with their new type coupling have a stamped base japanned in natural colours, the running plates are constructed of solid section material and perfectly insulated.  Locomotives, carriages and accessories are mad, as far as technically possible, exact reproductions of their originals, and are of the fine, strong construction which is expected of Marklin productions.  Locomotives and carriages are also fitted with a new coupling, which couples automatically, uncoupling must however be done by hand, but it is unusually simply and convenient.  Locomotives and carriages are further, without exception, fitted with solid nickelled buffers, axles and wheels.

Clearly. the introduction of the Marklin Spur 00 system was a huge success and the addition of new products and the inclusion of old ones shows this success.  The room for improvement, however, is ever-present: in the end of the paragraph, Marklin notes that uncoupling must be done by hand.  In later years, a newer “Kupplung design” which allowed for remote uncoupling of two cars at a time.  But for now, the Marklin system would rely on the claw-coupler design until the year 1939.

Expansion of 1937

The new additions of 1937 would be further improved with new innovations in 1938, but kept relatively the same for years to come.  Added locomotives include British version locomotives R 700 LMS and R 700 LNER, steam HR 700, and an electric 2-6-2 HS 700.  1937 also marked the first year of the release of 00 Scale export-models for several foreign markets including the American market and the  British market.  The American market received two locomotives (R 700 & HR 700) which were affixed with cowcatchers and sold under number R 700 A & HR 700 A.  The British market locomotives were German outline locomotives repainted in British LMS and LNER liveries.  It wasn’t until 1938 that the British market received it’s own strictly British locomotive, the E 800 LMS which was produced in very limited quantities.

HR 700

The years 1935 – 1937 were crucial to the development and establishment of 00 Scale Marklin. Despite relatively few technological innovations (which did not start until 1938), Marklin successfully developed the 00 scale and made it a part of its train family. The importance of the 00 Scale for Marklin continues even to day as it is Marklin’s most profitable and extensive product line (although it is now termed HO scale).

Marklin Catalog English

A History of Marklin O Gauge [Intro & Overview]

O Gauge production was critical to Marklin’s expansion and, as such, the O Gauge product line in conjunction with 00 Scale trains ushered Marklin into a toy-production “Golden Age.”  This series, “A History of Marklin O Gauge,” will take a look at the beginning (1893), middle (Golden Age), and end (1954) of the O Gauge product line.

The first O-Gauge Marklin locomotive (clockwork) was produced in 1893.  These O-Gauge sets were first displayed at the Leipzig Easter Fair.

Early O Gauge Locomotive and Car Set #1020

The Rise to the “Golden Age”

•1921:  First customer-catalog for  Germany (D1)

•1926:  20 Volt System introduced

•1931:  “Fernschaltung” 66 introduced

•1933:   Spur 00 program starts with “Liliputbahn”

•1935:  “Fernschaltung” 70 introduced

•1938:  Gauge 1 production greatly reduced

Coupler Design Patent (1909)

Coupler Patent 1909 (From Marklin Archives)

The above patent from the 6th of October 1909 detail the ingenious coupling design Marklin devised in the early 1900s.  This design was crucial to the easy and reliable coupling and uncoupling of locomotives and cars.  The design featured a “tongue and slot” mechanism with a small cross-pin which securely attaches the couplers together.  This design replaced the earlier “loop” couplers and maintained in existence until the end of O Gauge production.

Electronic Switch Patent (1934)

Electric Switch Patent 1934 (From Marklin Archives)

The patent shown above was an early electronic switch design which allowed for remote track switching by way of a push of a button.  An incredible lever mechanism utilizing leverage over a fulcrum point allows a small electromagnet to switch the heavy metal tracks.

The American Market

As always, I like to focus a little on the humble beginnings of the American market for Marklin.  Early in O Gauge production (1900-1920s), Marklin affixed cowcatchers and bells to German outline locomotives and called them “American.”  With rise to the “Golden Age” in the 1930s, Marklin realized the potential of the American market and – perhaps competing with its rival, Lionel – produced a series of what I like to call “uniquely” American locomotives that were not just cannibalized versions of German outline locomotives, but rather American version locomotives in their own right.  Such locomotives include the “Commodore Vanderbilt” AK 70/12920 of the “NEW YORK CENTRAL LINES” railway.  Other locomotives include the mighty Hudson AHR 66/12920, ME 66/12920 ETAT, and various rolling stock and larger passenger cars including the unmistakable PULLMAN 2924 and 2925 cars.  Important dealers for the American market in the 1930s include Richard Marklin, Bruce Hastie, and many others.

1934/1935 American "SONDERBLATT"

The important, but vastly unknown dealer of NY.

Marklin 1937 Toy Fair (00 Scale and O Gauge)

The impressive 1937 toy fair display for Marklin featured both 00 Scale and O Gauge.  The display featured a complex elevated 00 Scale track section.  From the photo below, a double-header RS 700 train can be seen pulling a stock of 340-series cars.  An SLR 700 locomotive approaches the grand 2039 G/00 Stuttgarter Station and two 424 B platforms.  Two 406 Fahne (Flags) flank either side of the station and are typical of the time period.  Several “Miniatur-Autos” are also scattered around the station to create a realistic scene.  It is clear, however, that since the introduction of 00 Scale in 1935, O Gauge has been put on the back-burner (or the lower shelf in this case!).  Despite its rather low positioning on the layout, a careful observer will notice that many different countries are represented in the product line: (from Left to Right) a German outline HR 66 12920, an American outline AK 70/12920, a SWISS crocodile CCS 66/12920, an English L 70/12920, and a French ME 70/12920 (as far as I can discern).  Running around the ovals are a “Flying-Hamburger” treibwagen and a gray livery ETAT ME 70/12920 pulling a string of 40cm 1940 series cars.

1937 Toy Fair Display


•Richard Marklin brought back to Germany

•O Gauge production continued, but at a slower pace

•Newer innovations never realized in O Gauge production line (many prototypes)

•Materials were more scarce

E 70 12920 Locomotives in Factory (1945) Locomotives finished in “dull black”

The end of O Gauge Marklin

•1954: Last year of Marklin O Gauge

•1947-1954 –Marklin heavily phased out O Gauge line

–No new models or special variants

–O Gauge always in the back of the catalogs

–Last few years only clockwork locomotives

–O Gauge pushed out by newer 00 technologies

Marklin 00/HO Track 1935 – 1950

Marklin track changed greatly over the years due to changing designs, available resources, and functionalities.

Here are some of the main track variations over the years 1935 – 1950.  There are many variations of Marklin track especially during WWII when available resources greatly influenced the look of the track.  For instance, towards the end of WWII there is a Marklin track without any roadbed designs because the factory which printed the roadbed design for Marklin was destroyed in a bombing raid.  As such, tracks from this time period do not have any roadbed designs.



1937 – 1938

1939 – 1942

1945 – 1946

1946 – 1947

1947 – early 1950s

Marklin Patents 1909 – 1942 [Kupplung]

Very rarely does an opportunity present itself  to look  “behind the scenes” of the Marklin factory.  Original instruction sheets, customer catalogs, and dealer items often give added value to Marklin items and set the context of the toy pieces, allowing us to imagine how they were originally sold to Marklin enthusiasts long ago.  Sometimes we are even given the chance to look at a Marklin dealer’s side of the operation such as in the article on Richard Marklin Toys.   Browsing through dealer catalogs, binders, and price-lists also gives us added insight in how dealers interacted with the Marklin factory, but how often do we actually get to see what happened on the production side of the toys at the Marklin factory in Goppingen, Germany?

Marklin Patents Folder

Marklin Patents 1909 & 1938

A blue, musty folder riddled with the signs of old age and many years of storage holds the secrets of Marklin’s engineering brilliancy in the form of original Marklin patents issued from the years 1909 to 1942.  Undoubtedly an incredible insight into Marklin’s clear advantage in the toy industry in the early 20th Century.  Here, the detailed design plans of some of Marklin’s greatest inventions and ingenuous designs are revealed for all to see.

A patent for “Gebr. Marklin & Cie.” dated 15.JANUAR 1942:

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