An example of the S gauge toy, from a very limited production set made in 1946, took a premium-inclusive $18,975 (£13,750) during a two-day, online-only Toy & Train auction held on August 11-12.
Making the top price of the sale and setting a new record for the model, it featured in Part 2 of Frank Pisani’s “wonderful” American Flyer S gauge collection, estimated at $3000-6000.
Weiss said: “It’s the Holy Grail for American Flyer collectors for sure, and the winning bidder had been trying to get one for the last 30 years. It was a respectable example, Tuscan painted on white mould with nice lettering.”
According to the Train Collectors Association Western Division, in 1946, after the Second World War, the AC Gilbert company which by then owned the American Flyer brand “discontinued manufacturing three-rail O gauge trains entirely in favour of the slightly (25%) smaller and more realistic S gauge”.
This was a new scale and gauge, running on realistic two-rail tracks without the centre rail.
Weiss said: “What is normally an off-month for us turned into a two-day gangbuster sale, with record prices realised in all areas of toy trains. There were 498 lots of trains in total, and all 498 sold, most for above estimate and some even multiple times the estimate. Toys did well, too, but trains right now are so hot we have more auctions planned.”
A Cold War-era toy which has been branded one of the most dangerous of all time came in the form of the “hard-to-find” 1951 Atomic Energy Lab, a huge set packed in a suitcase-style box.
This example, the first Weiss Auctions had ever handled, had all major and minor components appearing intact and sold for a premium-inclusive $3600 (£2610) against a guide of $1200-2400.
The U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was also an AC Gilbert production (Alfred Carlton Gilbert, who was not only a toy maker but an Olympic Gold medallist in pole vaulting among a wide array of interests).
The set, intended to allow children to create and watch nuclear and chemical reactions using radioactive material, included four small jars of actual uranium. The lab toy was commercially a failure and produced only in 1950 and 1951, possibly because it was indeed more suited to a lab than as a child’s plaything.
GI Joe highlight
Another auction highlight was a “highly coveted by collectors” 1982 mint-on-card GI Joe Commando Snake Eyes, 9 Back, series 1/version 1 action figure by Hasbro, never removed from the card, which went for $7200 (£5220) with premium, estimated at $2000-3000.
£1 = $1.38