The Most Valuable Model Trains in the World: Rare, Vintage Pieces Worth Thousands

  • By: Richard
  • Date: March 20, 2022
  • Time to read: 8 min.

If you’re a model train collector, you know that some pieces are worth a lot more than others. While most people might think of the average, every day trains when they think of model trains, some short and vintage pieces can be worth thousands of dollars. In this blog post, we will look at some of the most valuable model trains in the world. If you have one of these pieces in your collection, then congratulations – you’re sitting on a small fortune!

Most Expensive Model Trains

Here is a look at some of the most expensive model trains in the world:

Brass Budder Train: $150,000

The Brass Budder Train is the most valuable model train in the world. It was made in 1901 by the American toy company Lionel. The train is worth $150,000 because of its rarity and vintage appeal.

Brass Budder Train

Mayfair Model Railway: $1.21 Million

The Mayfair Model Railway is the most expensive in the world. It was created by British artist Damien Hirst and is worth $1.21 million. The railway comprises a series of gold-plated train tracks that wind through a replica of Hirst’s studio.

Mayfair Model Railway

Northlandz, NJ: Cost “Several Million Dollars” Just to Open 

Northlandz is a model railroad museum in Flemington, NJ. It is the largest model railroad museum globally, and it took its creator, Bruce Zaccagnino, more than 40 years to build. The cost to build Northlandz was “several million dollars,” It required 8 miles of track and 300 trains.

The museum is open to the public, but it’s not cheap. Admission costs $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 2-12. Northlandz is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area!

Exploring the HUGE Train Wonderland

Model Train Setup at 18055 SW Seiffert Road, Oregon: $3.5 million

If you’re a fan of model trains, you’ll want to check out the Model Train Setup at 18055 SW Seiffert Road in Oregon. This massive train setup is worth $3.5 million and is definitely worth a visit!

Model Train Setup at 18055 SW Seiffert Road

Miniature Wonderland, Germany: $12.12 million

Germany is one of the most well-known countries for its unique models. The Miniature Wonderland, Germany, cost $12.12 million to build and covers an area of 4 hectares. It has more than 100 working trains that are approximately 2 kilometers long. This model railroad is absolutely stunning!

Miniature Wonderland, Germany

What Is The Most Expensive Model Train in The World?

The most expensive model train in the world is a hand-crafted, three-foot-long working replica of The Orient Express. It was made by luxury manufacturer Märklin and costs USD 3,980.00.

The Orient Express was initially commissioned in 1883 to open a new rail line between Paris and Vienna to commemorate the project’s completion after five years’ work. Today it’s one of the world’s most famous trains and has been featured in several books and films, including Murder on The Orient Express (1974)Death On The Nile (1978), and Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (2009).

It wasn’t always called “The Orient Express,” though – that name came later when service was extended to Istanbul (then known as Constantinople).

The name Orient Express comes from a train that ran between Paris and Vienna. It was named after the first trains in this line, oriented or “easterners.” The original line opened in 1883 with two locomotives pulling three cars daily; they traveled at speeds up to 60 km/h (37 mph). In 1886 one of these locomotives broke down while traveling through Germany, so passengers had to disembark at Frankfurt am Main Station to board another train bound for either Strasbourg or Cologne depending on their destination.

In 1919 after World War I ended, many new countries were created, such as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania. International train service was slow to resume because of all the new borders that had to be crossed. Still, by 1922 a direct overnight train from Paris to Bucharest was running – it made more stops than the pre-war Orient Express, but people could now travel through seven countries in one day.

What Is The Most Expensive Model Train Layout Ever Built?

The most expensive model train layout ever built is the one that is on display at the National Railway Museum in York, England. It was made by David MacBrayne, a Scottish civil engineer, and it took him more than ten years to complete. The layout comprises a scale replica of the entire British railway system, from London to Aberdeen. It is said that MacBrayne spent over £100,000 (over $150,000) on materials alone for his masterpiece.

What is Most Old Model Trains Worth?

The most valuable model trains in the world are rare, vintage pieces worth thousands of dollars.

The oldest toy train is a clockwork locomotive made by George Gleason and sold to an American buyer in 1868. It was initially priced at US$1,000 but has since been appraised at more than US$3 million. The second-oldest toy train is also from the United States – this one was designed for children by John Waddington Ltd., which was bought in 1969. It fetched over US$2 million when it went up for auction recently. Many other old model trains have sold for hundreds or tens of thousands of dollars because they are so rare or unusual models that collectors would pay any price. You might also like our article HO Scale.

What Makes a Model Train Worth Money?

It’s not just the size of a model train that determines its value. There are many other factors to consider. For example, whether it is made by a well-known company or produced in limited numbers. The age and condition of the toy also matter, as do how accurately it resembles a real-life train and if any famous people have owned it. And finally, some collectors will only buy trains from specific countries because they want a particular type of locomotive or carriages to add to their collection.

List of The Most Expensive Model Railways Ever Sold

  1. Gilbert American Flyer S Gauge Baltimore and Ohio Hudson Set, $20,000. This train was manufactured by the A.C. Gilbert Company in 1946 and 1947 with four cars made to celebrate the centennial of the railroad company’s Camden Station in Baltimore, Maryland. The model has red lettering on each car and is marked “Baltimore & Ohio Centennial Limited 1827-1927” on its sides. It can be found at Wisconsin Toy Train Museum for anyone who wants to check out one of these rare sets in person.
  2. Lionel No 290E Locomotive With Tender, $12,500-$14,000. Manufactured by Lionel in 1952, the No 290E is a steam-powered model with an intricate design. It comes with its original box and paperwork, making it more valuable to collectors.
  3. Lone Ranger Train Set, $12,000-$15,000. This vintage train set was produced by Gabriel Industries in 1953 as part of a campaign for the “Lone Ranger” television show. The set features three red cars and gold with black lettering spelling out “The Lone Ranger” on them [source: WisToys]. Other items were also made as part of this promotion to coincide with the television series — there were over 100 different products, including puzzles, games, and even a coloring book.
  4. Marklin Kriegslokomotive BR52, $11,000. This electric locomotive was made by the German company Marklin in 1942 and is a rare find today. It’s powered by three motors and has metal wheels that make it perfect for collectors who want to create an original model train layout.
  5. Corgi No 27002 GWR King Edward I Steam Locomotive, $8000-$12,000. This steam locomotive was manufactured by Corgi in 1957 and is one of the most valuable pieces in their collection due to its rarity. The engine has beautiful gold detailing on its black body with red lettering reading “Great Western Railway” across the top of each side.
  6. Lionel Reading Railroad Set, $8000-$12,000. The Lionel Reading Railroad set was created in limited quantities and is one of the most sought-after sets by collectors today. It features a steam locomotive with gold detailing on its wheels that says “Reading Lines” across them and three other cars, including a boxcar and two tankers (one for milk). This particular model train will be found at Wisconsin Toy Train Museum if you want to see it up close.
  7. Kibri No B9400 BR44 Steam Locomotive, $6000-$10000. This German electric model engine has been discontinued since 1993 but remains valuable to collectors. It was made by Kibri and has a detailed design with silver lettering on its black body.
  8. MTH Premier O Gauge 20-20151 Southern Pacific Daylight Steam Locomotive, $6000-$8000. This steam locomotive was produced by the toy manufacturer MTH in 2001 and is part of their premier line of trains. The engine is powered by diesel fuel and runs on two A.A. batteries (not included). It’s perfect for anyone who wants to create an original model train layout.
  9. Lionel Santa Fe Set, $4000-$6000. This vintage set from 1958 includes a steam locomotive that’s red and green with white lettering on both sides and three other cars, including a boxcar, gondola, and caboose (all painted green). It’s one of the most sought-after sets by collectors today.
  10. Lionel No 0800 Train Set With Boxes, $4000-$6000. This vintage set was produced in 1955, with its original boxes intact. The set includes four different cars that are red and white with blue lettering reading “Lionel Lines” across them.

You can find more information about these types of scales in our article 6 Best DCC Systems.

FAQs

Are Old Model Trains Worth Anything?

It depends on the model train. Some are worth a lot of money, while others are not as valuable. The most valuable model trains are rare or vintage and worth thousands of dollars. However, many model trains are not as helpful and may only be worth a few hundred dollars. So it really depends on the specific train.

Who Makes the Highest Quality Model Trains?

People often debate about the best brand of model trains. Some people swear by one brand, while others claim that another is better. However, there is no definitive answer to this question. Different people have different opinions on what makes the highest quality model trains. Some people prefer more realistic trains, while others prefer those with more intricate details. There is no right or wrong answer – it all depends on personal preference.

Here are some popular brands among model train enthusiasts:

  1. Lionel (United States)
  2. Bachmann Industries Incorporated (USA/Hong Kong)
  3. Roco Group Ltd. (Austria)
  4. Atlas Model Railroad Co., LLC (USA/Thailand)
  5. Kato Precision Railroad Models Japan)
  6. Walthers (USA)
  7. Marklin Incorporated (Germany)
  8. Life-Like Trains, LLC. (USA/Malaysia)
  9. MTH Electric Trains (USA/China)
  10. American Flyer by Lionel Corporation Ltd. subsidiary of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company L.P.)

You might also like our article about most popular model train scales.

Do Model Trains Hold Their Value?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors. The first is the age of the train. Older trains are typically more valuable than newer ones.

The second factor is the rarity of the train. Some trains are rarer than others, thus being more valuable. Finally, the train’s condition also plays a role in its value. A march in excellent condition will likely be worth more than one in poor condition.

Conclusion

While the most expensive model train in the world and the most expensive model railway layout ever built are both shrouded in mystery, we can look at some of the more common factors that make a model train valuable. Rarity, age, condition, and manufacturer are all essential considerations for value. If you have an old model train lying around your house, don’t be surprised if it’s worth quite a bit of money!

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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