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From the Hands of Masters: Prototypes, Pre-Series, and First Versions from Marklin

When it comes to collector highlights there is none more rare and sought after than a prototype or first series.  A locomotive like the CCS 800 might be rare in any version, and if an earlier version is rare, then a first version or even a pre-series is an absolute top rarity.  Marklin produced various types of prototypes – some that were actually pre-series and distributed to early customers and others that stayed on the factory floor and were meant to instruct and shape the design and manufacturing process.

Why were prototypes made?

In almost any production or manufacturing process, usually before expensive molds and tooling are made, master craftsmen made a prototype first.  This helps the designers and engineers understand how the real model might perform before investing heavily into the manufacturing process.  For instance, with model trains, the designer must understand if the locomotive has the proper weight to both pull cars and not slip or derail on the tracks.  Too many wheels, too close together, might mean the locomotive cannot handle a certain radius of track.

How were prototypes made?

In the early days, most prototypes were made almost entirely of brass.  Brass is rather easy to work with as a metal because it conducts heat well which makes it good for soldering and it is a fairly soft metal so it can easily be shaped.  Even with these properties it is strong enough to handle tapping for screws and holds its shape well.

While the E 800 LMS locomotive was not a prototype in the purest sense for HO Scale Marklin, it could be seen as a pre-series because of its very limited quantity and the construction of some of its parts out of brass.

Marklin E 800 LMS (00 scale, 1938) with parts made out of brass

The brass and tinplate construction required incredible precision and the Marklin craftspeople were certainly up for the task.  Each piece would have to be cut, filed, and soldered into place.  This is an incredibly time consuming process.  Certainly with the aid of forms, jigs, and other tooling production could be sped up, but since prototypes were made in small quantities most of the world was done by hand.

700/800 Series Prototypes

Although not every locomotive has a known prototype in existence, it’s most likely that each locomotive or train Marklin ever produced did indeed have an original prototype.  Today many of the prototypes are in the Marklin museum such as the CCS 700, TW 700, etc.  Below we can see the prototypes for the RSM 800 (1), the English Pytchley locomotive (2) which was never made, the E 700 (3), a coal car based on the O Gauge design (4), and TW 800 (5).

Marklin prototypes at the museum

Such models are highly sought after by collectors because they very rarely left the factory building and certainly were not sold in any main products catalog.  As such, there are in many cases wonderful stories to go along with how a prototype did in fact leave the Marklin factory.  Many times Marklin employees would be allowed to keep them or they were given as special gifts.

Marklin T 800 Locomotive Prototype (T 700) in 1938 New-Items Catalog


Marklin T 700 Prototype sold at Auction for over 10,000 GBP

Prototypes in the large gauges have equal craftsmanship as the smaller 00/HO scale prototypes.  They too are built out of brass and sometimes regular tinplate.  They are not painted, most likely so that the pattern-maker could then accurately measure the dimensions of the metal without having any interference from the paint.  The primer, paint, and lacquer coats would have added millimeters to the measurements and Marklin probably did not tolerate such discrepancies!


Lankes Auktionen: A Gauge 1 brass “prototype” of B-Steam Locomotive 1021 with two axel tender

The prototype below is for one of the largest gauges of Marklin, Gauge II (or Spur 2 in German).  On the steam boiler side we can see the “II” insignia to denote the gauge.  The prototype is for the American market and is such even more rare.  The locomotive was acquired from the family of the original owner who procured the piece in Germany direct from Marklin.  In such a case the prototype was probably sent to America to be shown at a toy store to the American market.  Although it was probably never for sale it would show the fine quality of Marklin toys and trains to the American audience. (see correction below)


Marklin Gauge 2 Brass Locomotive for the American Market

Correction/Update: several astute collectors noted that early large gauge Marklin locomotives could be ordered in brass, instead of the normal painted versions.  As such, the term “prototype” for these locomotives is not fitting because they could be ordered through the catalog.  They are, however, still rather difficult to find.

After additional research we also found the above Gauge 2 locomotive finally pictured in an advertisement flyer from FAO Schwarz (at the time commonly called Schwarz Toy Bazar).  The flyer is from 1901 and pictures the locomotive, without tender, available in Gauges 1 & 2.  Among other small details, the railing looping around the boiler as a single piece distinguishes this version from later ones.  The catalog photo does not show the locomotive outfitted for the American market, however, as is sometimes common.  The cowcatcher seen on the Gauge 2 locomotive above is in our opinion the earliest known cowcatcher – with thin soldered spokes. Later cowcatchers were made of a single piece of stamped tin. 

Schwarz Toy Bazar Flyer from 1901

First-series: a crocodile

The Swiss crocodiles from Marklin are generally rare and sought after – and most rare in the 00/HO range is the first version (or 0.1) CCS 800 locomotive.  The locomotive was made in a very small production following WWII in 1947 for distribution to dealers around the world.  Although we cover crocodiles extensively in Marklin Crocodiles: Genealogy of the Swiss CCS 800 Locomotive we want to highlight the first series here specifically.

The first series CCS 800 is fairly similar to the second version, but there are several important differences to note.  First, and arguably easiest to notice, is the round screws on the pairs of linkages instead of the hex-pattern screws on later versions.  Because some unscrupulous collectors and dealers might switch out the hex screws for round ones, it’s important not to rely on this characteristic alone.  The paint is perhaps the most difficult but important to judge.  The paint on a first series CCS 800 is slightly lighter and more gray than a second series crocodile.

Marklin CCS early prototype in the Marklin museum

A myth recently circulated of an “American crocodile” that supposedly has red lights on each end and a black-painted buffer.  This myth originated in Europe and of course the best way to test its validity would be to analyze the American markets to see if ones has ever shown up there.  And of course, over the last several decades none have surfaced.  All first series from the US are just the same as those in Europe, so we believe with relatively high certainty that this “American crocodile” is a fantasy creation by a previous owner and not from Marklin originally.  In the photo above, however, we do see that some of the early version prototypes of the CCS in the Marklin museum do indeed have red lights on each end – the top light out of the three is red.

In the 1947 black and white catalog for the Swiss market, we also see this special crocodile described:

Marklin 1947 Swiss Catalog showing Prototype CCS 800

Of course, in a black and white photograph it’s difficult to tell whether the buffers are black or not.  We will leave that up to the viewer to decide for themselves, or wait until a confirmed original shows up on the market.  But from the photo we can certainly tell that this is a prototype, and distinct even from a First Version CCS 800.

Marklin Auction at Muenchner Spielzeugauktion

Marklin collectors are sure to know the “Brockmann” name for Marklin – from its long history in the auction business and also the production of spare parts.  With the more recent auctions from Münchner Spielzeugauktion we see that the business has new ownership directing the auction house.  As the tradition continues there are many wonderful lots in the latest auctions for collectors to enjoy.  We are especially pleased with the accuracy of the descriptions and attention to detail in the presentation of the lots.  The auction house’s website can be found here:

As a side note, it is believed that the spare parts business from Brockmann was taken over by the company Ritter years ago.

In their latest auction we are pleased to see many wonderful treasures including a rare E 800 LMS.  The piece’s provenance (history) is incredibly important as it was sold by the auction company in 2001 for 40.000 DM.  While some Marklin pieces have fallen in price recently, top rarities such as the E 800 LMS have not only held their prices firm but also gone considerably higher depending on condition, originality, and the provenance of the piece.

Marklin E 800 LMS locomotive produced for the English market for just one year, 1938

Another lot includes the rare Marklin 416 station which in some versions bears the controversial symbol of the Nazi party leading up to WWII.  The particular lot in this auction does not show the symbol, and the auction house is prudent to point out that the flag is a replica.  Many Marklin sellers on eBay and elsewhere do not always accurately describe their pieces, leaving out that certain parts are reproductions or repainted.  We are pleased to see here that this auction house pays particular attention to accurately describing such details.

Marklin 416 station produced in 1935-36

The auction also features some larger gauge items (O and I Gauge) including a French Mountain steam locomotive ME 70 12920.  The “70” in the model number means the locomotive is equipped with the improved remote reversing system as opposed to the hand-reversing of the “66” series.

Marklin ME 70 12920 with reproduction box

This particular model was sold in several different varieties.  The black version came with wheels that were either the typical red or black as seen in this lot.  It is not known what caused these variations – there is perhaps a correlation with more red-wheeled ME locomotives showing up in the American market.  Here again the auction house is careful to point out that the box is a replica.  Since the box is slightly used and worn this could be particularly difficult for collectors to discern from an original box.  However, with careful examination of the box labels, particularly the colors and stampings, the label is an obvious reproduction.

In O Gauge is a fantastic reproduction by the company HEHR (or similar manufacturer) which is known for producing quality reproductions of many of Marklin’s models from the 1920s and 1930s.  HEHR only reproduced this locomotive in Gauge O, which Marklin never originally produced.  Marklin only produced this locomotive in Gauge 1, which HEHR scaled down.  Twerenbold, however, did product a replika of this locomotive in Gauge 1. The Rheinuferbhan is a famous railway in Germany that connected the cities Bonn and Koln (Cologne).

Rheinuferbahn from the 1930s, Gauge O, replica possibly by HEHR

All in all, the Muenchner Spielzeugauktion presents yet another fantastic auction for collectors.  And this time, the auction is at the Hans-Peter Porsche Traumwerk in Germany near the Austrian border, which we covered in another article.  The museum shall be a wonderful venue for an auction with such incredible pieces.

Marklin O Gauge Collection HR 70 12920 and TW 66 12940

Marklin collection directly after opening 3 original wooden shipping crates. The third crate in the rear is filled entirely with metal track.


Overview of the collection. One wooden crate had a newspaper at the bottom date from the 1950s. The Pre-War set was shipped to the USA following WWII.

German shipping label on one of the wooden crates. Although difficult to read the hand-writing, I believe the German city possibly reads “Dresden.”  The beginning of the street name read “Lü” then becomes illegible and ends with “str” which is the abbreviation for “Strasse” or street in German.

The fencing and crossing gate of the “Bahnwaerterhaus” came off the base, but luckily nearly all parts were present. The parts were found at the bottom of the shipping crate!

A cardboard template is made for the smoke deflector.


Tinplate smoke deflectors are made. The wiring (repurposed paperclips) will be soldered to the smoke deflector to create the ridge around the outline.

The new smoke deflectors are fitted before soldering.


Parts are reattached to the base and signs are added to the top of the original sign posts.

A house is constructed out of tinplate for the train crossing guard.


The final work, still missing the faux tree where the base is. This tree will later be reconstructed or an original tree will be added.

The smoke deflector after initial painting. The linkage and buffers still need to be reattached. The smoke deflectors need final sanding and another coat of paint.

The crossing guard house has initial coats of paint. The original door was pressed with indentations, but this process is very difficult to replicate without heavy machinery. Instead painted shadows are used to simulate the same effect. The paint still needs sanding, a final coat, and lacquer.

Marklin Bahnwarterhaus with TW (Flying Hamburger), switching tower, and signal.

Taking Flight with Marklin: A History of Toys with Wings

The era of aviation introduced adventure-seekers to the world of the sky.  Previously only  enjoyed by birds, the sky was now part of man’s domain – with a little help by some fantastic machines.  The first vehicles to hit the skies were powered by hot air, gas, and balloons.  One famous example is the Marklin Zeppelin airship.  The concept was simple: the air trapped inside the balloon heats up by way of a burner, making the air in the balloon less dense than the air outside.  Just as heat rises, so does the balloon!  Up until this point, Marklin toys traditionally traveled land and sea with trains, vehicles, boats, and submarines.  Aviation introduced a new playing field for youngsters – air!

Marklin Zeppelin: first toys take to the skies

The first Marklin toys to hit the skies not surprisingly didn’t have wings.  The hot air balloon concept was mechanically much easier to accomplish.  While hot gases, burners, and thin fabric balloons were potentially dangerous, the concept was much more simple than the power and precision required to get a winged vehicle off the ground.  Marklin produced a various Zeppelin-Airships and hot air blimps.  Some imitated realistic operation with propellers driven by a clockwork mechanism and could run along a string zip-line.  Two rollers affixed to the top of the zeppelin would allow the zeppelin to glide along the string.  The first Zeppelins from Marklin were produced in the early 1900s.

Märklin, 5430/4 Ballonhalle für Zeppelin Luftschiffe von 1909. Source

Märklin, 5430/4 Hanger for Zeppelin hanger boat from 1909. Source

A very rare 1909 Airship Hangar for Zeppelins. It floats with pontoons, gangway and anchors.  This is the very long version and can take all the Märklin Zeppelins up to 18″ in length.  We can see the original floating hangar from 1900 this model was based on in the slideshow below.

Starting circa 1909 we have identified three different variations of the Marklin Zeppelin airship. A table shows the different versions and descriptions:

5401 Features “ZEPPELIN” and Marklin crest logo stamped in tin on both sides of Zeppelin underside. Length approximately 9.5 inches.
5403 Same as prior version, but approximately 11.5 inches in length.
5403 The largest version approximately 18 inches in length. The underside of the Zeppelin features a cabin with two windows on each side. The Marklin crest logo and “ZEPPELIN” are stamped into the tin and flank this cabin. Some variations (perhaps early versions) feature a Marklin logo that is rubber-stamped instead of embossed into the tin.

Later in the 1930s Marklin introduced the “Graf Zeppelin” airships.  While airplanes were certainly well into commercial existence, the prospect of luxury airships for civilian air travel seemed promising.  Zeppelin Airships were massive and featured smoking rooms, lavatories, dining rooms, sleeping cabins, fully functioning kitchens, and much more.  Airplanes of the day did not feature such luxuries and certainly were smaller and much more noisy than a giant balloon drifting through the air.  Unfortunately the crash of the LZ 129 Hindenburg in New Jersey in 1937 changed public opinion on the safety of such airships.  Newsreel coverage, photographs, and the recorded radio broadcast of the horrific crash shattered public confidence in airships.

Graf Zeppelin Airship DLZ 127, clockwork or electric, Märklin 5406 and 13806 ( D13 1936/37 ).

Graf Zeppelin Airship DLZ 127, clockwork or electric, Märklin 5406 and 13806 ( D13 1936/37 ).

To commemorate Marklin’s 140th anniversary, the company produced a special limited edition of the Graf Zeppelin.  The airship replica carried model number 11400. The model is silver metal with the following markings:  “D-LZ 130” in black, “Graf Zeppelin” in red on the body and “Marklin 1859-1999” and the company crest in black on the tail.  It is built to 1:600 scale and nearly 2 feet long.

Marklin biplanes



Marklin No. 5418 from catalog 1909

Marklin No. 5418 from catalog 1909


Marklin Biplane 5418, largest plane dates from 1909. Source Christie's

Marklin Biplane 5418, largest plane dates from 1909. Source Christie’s

Marklin JU aircraft

In 1930, Ernst Zindel and his team designed the JU 52 at the Junkers factory in Dessau, Germany. The aircraft’s corrugated duralumin metal skin strengthened the whole structure while keeping a low weight profile for the plane to carry additional cargo and passengers.  The airplane saw both military and civilian service during the 1930s and 1940s.

Marklin’s first prototype of this aircraft Junkers JU 52/53 was likely built before 1933 for an exhibition.  Photos of the prototype show the German national colors on the tail of the airplane along with “LUFTHANSA” lettering along the sides of the aircraft.  Later special prototypes and exhibition pieces featured the Nazi swastika insignia on the airplane tails.  These examples were thus likely produced post-1933 when the German parties transitioned power.  The below airplanes have a fantastic provenance coming from the Marklin family and were sold by Auktionshaus Hohenstaufen in Goppingen in a February 2017 auction fetching extraordinary prices.

Marklin Prototype Planes from Marklin Family Ownership. Sold in February Auction

Marklin Prototype Planes from Marklin Family Ownership. Sold in February Auction



Three Engined Air Liner built with set No.1152, Märklin Aeroplane Construction Sets (edited from Märklin catalogue D13 1936/37)

Air Liner built with construction set No. 1152 (catalog D13 1936/37)



Marklin Carousels, Stations, and More at Live Auction

It has been an exciting time for live auctions containing Marklin lots.  Here we present some of the top highlights.  The first is a fantastic (original!) Marklin carousel with a built-in musical instrument that functions as the carousel turns.  A piece like this embodies Marklin’s incredible charm as a toymaker and also their engineering skill and attention to detail.  Marklin employees were both artists and skilled engineers!  Marklin has since produced a reproduction of this carousel and also the steam engine that could power the turning of the carousel.  These items were released as Marklin 16121 and Marklin 16051 for the carousel and compound steam engine respectively.

Marklin, Karussell 8847 mit Musikwerk

A Marklin carousel sold for 130,000 EUR in Germany by antico mondo.

A Marklin carousel sold for 130,000 EUR in Germany by antico mondo. (view lot)

Marklin Pullman coach 60cm

Marklin Pullman coach "Ithaca" sold for $5,500 by Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett

Marklin Pullman coach “Ithaca” sold for $5,500 by Pook & Pook with Noel Barrett (view lot)

Marklin produced the long 60cm Pullman coaches in O Gauge during the 1930s.  Other similar coaches (although much shorter) were produced earlier in both Gauge I and O Gauge.  Rarest of all the cars is the Pullman observation coach which has a veranda at the very end.  In the United States, these Pullman coaches were popular as presidential trains.  Presidents would tour the country on their lavish coaches to give speeches from the end of the train on the small veranda.  The Commodore Vanderbilt locomotive AK 66 / 12920 is commonly seen hauling these long 60cm cars from Marklin.

The Pullman Company factory in Richmond, CA

The Pullman Company factory in Richmond, CA

Marklin Central Station Nr. 2651

Marklin Central Station fetched $15,000

Marklin Central Station fetched $15,000 (view lot)

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