Tag Archives: LMS

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 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.

Fakes, Forgeries, and Reproductions: How do they affect Marklin?

Fakes, forgeries, and reproductions of Marklin trains and toys create an obstacle for Marklin collectors, dealers, musuems, and auction houses. In this article I will discuss the implications they have on the current market for Marklin items and the possible future effects. First, it is important to devise some operational definitions:

  • A fake shall be described as any item that has been altered in order to enhance its value. The fake shall have at least one part that is original. The fake is sold as 100% original and any modifications are not described in the terms of sale (i.e. A German outline train repainted in British livery and sold as a completely original British version train).
  • A forgery shall be any item that is a 100% exact copy of an original item and is sold as an original (i.e. A complete replica of the CCS 66 12920 crocodile sold as a completely original train).
  • A reproduction, whether a single part or an entire train, is an exact copy of an original item and is sold as such (i.e. A reproduction part for a SK 800 locomotive sold as a reproduction or a reproduction of the E 800 LMS train sold as a reproduction).

As can be seen from the above definitions, it is extremely important to look at how the item is described when it is sold. Selling an E 800 LMS locomotive as an original and selling one as a reproduction are two entirely different circumstances and have equally different effects on the market. In order to attempt to get a better understanding of such market effects, we will take the E 800 LMS locomotive as our example; it is a suitable example because it was originally produced in 1938 in relatively small quantities and is extremely sought after in the collector market. It’s relatively low supply and high collector demand has created the need for quality reproductions. Ritter restorations filled this need by producing a reproduction of the E 800 LMS as well as some British version passenger cars.

A Hypothetical Market for the E 800 LMS

Let’s now create a highly simplified situation in which we shrink down the size of the Marklin world to just 6 collectors, 1 known original E 800 LMS locomotives, 34 E 800 LMS reproductions, 0 E 800 LMS fakes, and 1 E 800 LMS forgeries. This will help us consider the possible effects of fakes, forgeries, and reproductions on the market for Marklin. Empirical research is near impossible in any other scenario because the market is fraught with clandestine transactions and deceit and, as such, it would be very difficult to asses the market correctly. This hypothetical thought experiment is in no way economically or experimentally sound. The conclusions are not drawn based on the “results” of the experiment, but by what seems to be important to the market for Marklin. The experiment has the sole purpose of exposing what exactly influences the market for original and reproduction Marklin trains. Here is a representation of our small, hypothetical Marklin world:

Meet the collectors -

Collector Budget Knowledge Preference
A $400/yr Average Quantity, only operates trains
B $10,000/yr Average Quantity, operates and displays trains
C $3,000/yr Expert Originality and rarity, displays trains
X $10,000/yr Expert Originality and rarity, displays trains
Y $200/yr Expert Originality and rarity, displays trains
Z $1,000/yr Below Average Quantity, runs trains and displays

Now we devise a hypothetical time frame of 5 years in which all of our E 800 LMS locomotives (fakes, forgeries, and reproductions) are sold in the market. Each of our collectors will be participating and has a general “interest” in the E 800 LMS. From this scenario, we will be able to see the effect of fakes, forgeries, and reproductions on a clearly defined market.

In the first year an original E 800 LMS locomotive comes up for auction in Germany. It is described as 100% original and in fact, it is. The estimate for the locomotive is $500-$1,000. Collector A is not very interested in the locomotive; he doesn’t quite have the money for it and he would prefer to buy several average Marklin locomotives to run on his layout. Collector B is interested in the E 800 LMS and is planning to bid $800 for the locomotive because he has the budget to buy the train, but could possibly be interested in buying a reproduction instead. Collector C is very interested in the locomotive and is planning to spend his entire yearly budget of $3,000 on the locomotive; he knows it is original and values this greatly. Collector X is similar to Collector C, but has a greater budget for the locomotive and is willing to pay $4,000 for the train. Collector Y simply doesn’t have the budget for the locomotive, but realizes it’s value and puts in a bid of $600 hoping he might get a deal. Collector Z is interested in the E 800 LMS, but is too worried that the locomotive might be a reproduction (he has heard there are reproductions out there) and so he doesn’t put a bid in because he feels that he isn’t experienced enough to buy such a rare item.

The auction ends and the original E 800 LMS is sold to Collector X to $3,100. All the other collectors are disappointed they did not win the original E 800 LMS, but they are hoping there might be another original E 800 LMS in the market that has yet to appear. Collector A realizes that the reproduction of the E 800 LMS is an adequate substitute for an original and decides to purchase one for $140 USD. Collector A is now out of the market for an E 800 LMS. Collector B decides to hold out for an original because he has the budget to buy one. The hype of the auction made him really excited to buy an original. Additionally, his friend Collector A has a reproduction and Collector B wants to upstage him by buying an original E 800 LMS. Collector C is mad that Collector X outbid him, but he knows that at the next auction Collector X probably won’t be there since he already has an original. He is hoping that he can buy an original E 800 LMS for around $3,000 or less. Being an expert collector, he has the confidence to know exact what he is buying and also considers himself a connoisseur, unfit for low-quality reproductions. Collector X is happy to have been able to get his hands on an original E 800 LMS; he proudly displays it in his collection for all his collector friends to see.

Collector Y realizes he will never be able to afford an original E 800 LMS unless he starts making forgeries (which he can do because of his expert knowledge). He creates a forgery and offers it to Collector Z. Collector Z, convinced by Collector Y that the E 800 LMS is original, buys it for $2,500 thinking he has just scored a great deal. He doesn’t realize it is a forgery because of his below average knowledge. Collector Y is very proud of himself that he was able to imitate the impeccable quality of Marklin trains and was able to pass off his creation as original E 800 LMS. Collector Z, now with an E 800 LMS forgery, is out from the market for an E 800 LMS.

Here is the market directly after the auction and the “private transaction”:

# of Original E 800 LMS locos: 1
# of Reproduction E 800 LMS locos: 34
# of Forgery E 800 LMS locos: 1
Number of collectors in the market for E 800 LMS: 3
Cost of original E 800 LMS (first at auction): $3,100 USD
Cost of reproduction E 800 LMS: $140 USD
Cost of forgery E 800 LMS: $2,500 USD

The Aftermath

Collector A – out of the market, owns a reproduction

Collector B – Still in the market, will bid high at the next auction

Collector C – Still in the market

Collector X – out of the market, owns an original

Collector Y – possibly in the market now that he has enough money to buy an original from the sale of his forgery. It is possible that he will make a forgery for himself, but seeing that he is an “expert,” he will probably only accept an original for himself.

Collector Z – out of the market, owns a forgery — he could keep the forgery in his collection and never show anyone or he could display it publicly, letting all his collector friends know that he owns an “original” E 800 LMS. The number of known “originals” (whether actually or original or not) changes the supply of an “original” E 800 LMS which effects the value of an “original.”


Now this hypothetical scenario could go on forever, revealing all the different aspects of what happens when originals, fakes, forgeries, and reproductions are introduced to the market for a single E 800 LMS, but just from a few events (an auction of an original, the sale of a forgery, and the sale of a reproduction), a lot can be learned. Let’s analyze each event:

Event Effect on market
Auction of original E 800 LMS Increases the hype of the E 800 LMS through the publicity of the auction; displays publicly the value of an original E 800 LMS; usually the price of an original E 800 LMS will be less at the next auction if it is relatively close to the previous auction (the high bidder at the last auction is gone; the supposed “supply” seems greater; etc)
Sale of a reproduction E 800 LMS Sometimes removes collectors from the market of an original; has the potential to increase the popularity of the E 800 LMS (reproductions are distributed widely and viewed by other collectors)
Sale of forged E 800 LMS Puts money in the hands of the forger which could either be good (he then buys an original E 800 LMS) or bad (produces more forgeries); removes collector from the market of an original; possibly decreases the value of an original by increasing the supply (unless the transaction is 100% private and the owner never publicizes he owns an “original”)

As can be seen from the above analysis, the effect of each event depends upon a number of factors and cannot be exactly correlated with a quantifiable effect of, say, the sale of a single forgery. The most important factor in each scenario is not the budget of each collector, but rather his or her knowledge, which in some ways limits the budget. An expert collector would not be as willing to spend $2,500 on a forged E 800 LMS than a below average collector who cannot tell the difference.

In many markets, forgeries can cripple the market because collectors (even experienced ones) cannot tell the difference between an original and a forgery. However, such tendencies cannot be applied to all markets – what if the collector does not care if he has purchased a forgery because he cannot even tell the difference. As such, the introduction of forgeries is different for each and every market. Reproductions are assumed to not have this same effect because by our definition, they are always sold as reproductions and not originals.

The idea of a fake, which has been previously left out of our hypothetical world, is thought to have a similar effect as a forgery but to a lesser extent. The problem with fakes, however, is that they literally blur the line between a forgery and an original since, by definition, they have parts from both. Like a forgery, they create value in a market (original Marklin trains) out of materials that come from outside the market (Zinc metal, machining labor, etc.). However, since some parts of the fake are original, they create less additional value than a complete forgery and are therefore less “harmful” to a market.

Luckily, at this point in time for the market for Marklin trains, there is less of a demand for fakes, forgeries, and reproductions because Marklin collectors place an extreme value on original trains that have substantial provenance. Any faked or forged trains that come up for sale are usually of very poor quality and can be identified by the average collector. Reproduction trains are generally well regulated and modified so that they can easily be identified by any Marklin collector with a general experience in collecting vintage Marklin. In future years, however, a high demand for fakes and forgeries might be created by ever-increasing prices for original Marklin trains. With this increase in demand, however, there is also an increase in an equal, but opposite demand for highly reputable dealers who are known for selling 100% originals who Marklin collectors come to trust. In the end, it is a constant battle between the forgers and the advanced Marklin collectors who are capable of identifying these forgeries.

Marklin of Great Britain 1937 – 1938 (00)

Marklin first started producing 00 Scale export models in 1937 (just two years after the start of 00 Scale in 1935). Marklin primarily focused on export models for the British and American markets. German outline locomotives and coaches were made in British liveries. Locomotives like the R 700 and SLR 700 were painted in either red or green and detailed with “LMS” or “LNER” stampings on the tender.

SLR 700 LNER and 349 E from 1937 for the British market.

The locomotives were actually produced alongside the standard domestic trains and simply converted in the factory to be for the British market.  An excellent example to illustrate this point is the 342 E LMS passenger coach producing during the years 1937 – 1938.   Underneath the factory over-painting, a faint “MITROPA” can be seen in the center along with the over-painted “SPEISEWAGEN.”  The gold stamping of the “LMS” sits directly above the model number “342″ and is on all four corners of the coach.

Marklin 342 LMS coach with factory over painting and “LMS” stampings.

Because of this simple factory conversion of German outline trains to British ones, the counterfeiting of such train pieces is very prevalent.  Many locomotives have been repainted due to paint chipping or fading over the years and some have simply been converted to British versions from German types.  Potentially the greatest export model for Great Britain is the E 800 LMS locomotive.  With fewer than 50 models built in 1938, the locomotive is a collector’s dream.  It features the newly released “Perfect Reverse” system introduced by Marklin in 1938 and is the only Marklin locomotive to be built specifically for an export market (it was not a converted German outline train).

Unfortunately 1938 was the last year of British export models made by Marklin.  With WWII looming in the distant horizon and political relations worsening, Marklin ceased the production of export models and focused on selling to American soldiers during the war.  The immediate post-war market with the release of the 1947 catalog did not contain any British export models.

Marklin Catalog Codes & Pricelists

Marklin Pricelists

faonewyorkMarklin pricelists were sent along with catalogs for consumers to purchase and browse the new and current Marklin train items offered. Pricelists can be found written in many languages including German, English, French, Spanish, and more.  To give an idea of the Marklin prices in such pricelists, we can use the 1951 pricelist from F.A.O. Schwarz located at 745 5th Ave. COR. 58th Street, New York.

No USA $ No USA $ No USA $
RM 800 23 DT 800 43.50 311 2.95
TM 800 17.50 RE 848/4 88 311 H 3.65
HR 800 39 ST 800 75 311 K 3.65
SK 800 39 ST 800 MT 9 311 S 3.65
TT 800 37 362 1.65 314 BP 4.60
G 800 47.50 366 2.70 314 E 4.60
RSM 800 19.50 367 2.95 314 G 4.60
SE 800 27 371 1.80 314 S 4.60
SEW 800 31 372 1.80 315 3.65
RE 800 45 372 G 2.15 316 N 4.25
MS 800 42 374 ESSO 2.70 321 3.95
CCS 800 60 374 SHELL 2.70 321 G 4.25
DL 800 65 381 1.65 322 4.25
RM 829/4 49.50 386 1.65 323 3.65
TM 865/4 42 390 2.40 310 4.25
398 .95 391 2.95 320 4.25
HR 846/4 110 393 4.25 320 S 6.65
SK 846/4 110 305 1.50 324 4.60
RSM 829/4 45 307 1.95 325 4.60
SE 846/4 64.50 308 2.70 326 4.60

To give some perspective to these prices, we can look at the costs of household items in America during the year 1951.

House: $16,000
Average income: $3,515
Ford car: $1424-$2253
8.3 cu. ft. General Electric refrigerator: $330
Milk: $.92
Gas: $.20
Bread $.16
Postage stamp: $.03

Source: Fifties Web

Many Marklin catalog collectors today are constantly searching for pricelists to accompany their catalogs. The pricelist is almost like an original box to a locomotive to complete the entire “package.” Much like catalogs, we can obtain a great deal of information about a pricelist simply by looking at the small print code in the lower left hand corner. Read the article below to learn about how to find the print number, date of printing, and the printing house.

Printing Codes and Catalogs

Almost every year, Märklin produced printed catalogs that would often be included in starter sets or laid out in hobby stores. Catalogs showed off the new products that Märklin produced for that year. The earliest catalog known in existence today consists of hand drawn pictures of the Märklin production line from 1890. The first strictly HO/00 scale catalog was printed in 1935, following Märklin’s introduction of the new HO/00 scale. This catalog was printed in English, German, Dutch, French, and Spanish. From 1935 – 1939, catalogs were printed for Great Britain and included LMS and LNER variants. The famous E 800 locomotive is featured in this catalog and now has an auction estimate of over $35,000 if one becomes available.

Märklin used special printing codes for their catalogs which are commonly printed in the lower left-hand or right-hand corner of the catalog’s cover or on the inside of the cover page. These codes can be used to determine the number printed, month of printing, year of printing, and where the catalog was printed (Märklin used outsourced printers).

Codes – Number of Catalogs Printed:

T – 1
O – 2
Y – 3
M – 4
A – 5
R – 6
K – 7
L – 8
I – 9
N – 0

If using the “TOYMARKLIN” pattern, each letter represents a multiple of 1,000 editions, we can use this number as a base number for deciphering our codes. Thus, the print code “A 751″ would give us the information: 5,000 printed (A=5 –> 5 (A)*1,000(base) = 5,000), printed in the month of July, and printed in the year 1951. However, the pattern “toymarklin” with lowercase letters can also be used, but this pattern represents multiples of 100 printed. A lowercase “t” would be 100 printed and a lowercase “m” would be 400 printed.

Comparison of Export Models for USA and Great Britain in the 1930s

Great Britain USA
R 700 LMS
R 700 LNER
R 700 S LMS
R 700 S LNER
HR 700 LMS
R 800 LMS
R 800 LNE
HR 800 LMS
HR 800 LNE
E 800 LMS
HR 700 A
R 700 A

As the table above shows, the market for Great Britain was given much more attention in terms of special variants produced. Considering the above table only shows locomotives and not the many starter sets and passenger cars also produced for Great Britain, the American market was much smaller. That is why few Märklin dealers existed in the 1930s. New York had Richard Maerklin Trains, and Illinois and Oklahoma had a few hobby shops offering Märklin in the 1930s.

Codes – Common Examples

ONN. 937. D. – 200,000 printed in September of 1937 (German language)
A 0845 r – 5,000 printed in August of 1945

 1953 Pricelist


1936 O Gauge Instructions

In addition to catalogs, the same printing codes can be applied to pricelists that were included with the catalogs. These pricelists are printed commonly on pink paper, but were also printed on white and blue paper as well. Similarly, Märklin printed New Item “Neuheiten” catalogs that would show new products throughout the year that were sent to dealers. Instruction sheets follow a similar pattern.

To gain even more information about catalogs, pricelists, and sometimes instruction sheets, one can look at dealers stamps. When Märklin sent printed materials to dealers, they would often stamp the paper with information containing the hobby shop name, location, and sometimes the owner of the store. In the USA during the 1930s and 1940s, Richard Märklin Trains was the main importer of Märklin for the United States, located in New York (Picture below).