Antiques Column: All aboard the clockwork train

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Early trains by the German toy manufacturer Marklin, like those of other makers, were simple and solid, but unrealistic.

However, in 1891 at the Leipzig Toy Fair Marklin introduced standardised gauges, which was a major development in the manufacture of trains and was to change how they were produced in the future.

The early 1900s were the first ‘golden age’ of Marklin trains.

The simple early designs were superseded by a range of realistic, detailed trains with a superb, thickly lacquered finish.

The larger lll gauge was particularly popular in this early period, but by 1910 the demand for the smaller l and 0 gauge models was growing too.

It was at this time that Marklin introduced a range of rolling stock and accessories.

After World War One the heavy, thickly painted trains began to look old fashioned and by 1930 the I gauge was obsolete.

All this led to the company, in the 1930s, investing in new tooling and launching a brand new range of trains.

In 1948 yet more changes, which included the launching of the smaller and instantly popular HO gauge.

The die cast bodies were narrower with more accurate proportions, a slightly matt finish and a new type of coupling.

By the late1950s the solidarity and quality of Marklin trains had firmly re-established the company’s reputation world wide.

Marklin trains are extremely popular and collectable today and many of the very early examples can realise impressive prices at auction.