One of the Most Sought Out American Model Trains is the American Flyer

A large amount of those trains were the American Flyer brand. They were considered by many to be the top of the line. Lionel and Marx had good trains, but the American Flyer was in another class.

When the American Flyer first appeared in 1908, it had been not the most notable train set. The honor of number one belonged to the trains produced by Ives Manufacturing Company. William Coleman and his friend William Hafner pooled resources to start the toy train business, in Chicago, circa 1906. Hafner had developed the clockwork mechanism for the train, and Coleman had a tooling company for the production. The American Flyer name began to be well known because Hafner could contract with retailers like Montgomery Ward to carry it in their stores. In 1910, the tooling company changed its name to The American Flyer Company.

Eventually, Coleman and Hafner split ways over a disagreement, and the Flyer begun to decline in market share. Coleman died in 1918, and his son, William O. Jr., took control. The value of the business further decreased after the senior’s death. W. O. didn’t really care much for the toy train business.

In 1938, Coleman basically gave The American Flyer Company to his friend Alfred Carlton Gilbert. WHENEVER A.C. took over, the Flyer begun to gain momentum, probably due in part to Gilbert’s expertise in advertising. The business was moved from Chicago to New Haven, Connecticut, where in fact the trains were produced that collectors still seek today.

The next World War curtailed production for the Flyer and other toy makers, but it 1946 they were underway again. For twenty years the American Flyer tried in vain to top Lionel for the market, eventually bankrupting in 1967. Almost all of the models available to collectors were from the years after the war.

American Flyers are called S gauge, produced from sixty-forth, the ratio of the train to the full size prototype. This is simply not the most used size for model trains. Small HO scale is the most popular worldwide, however the S gauge still includes a following. One American company began due to the inability of the owner to get quality parts for his personal American Flyer. Whitney Port American Models is producing its rolling stock, tracks, and engines to help preserve the Flyers that are still in operation.

Lionel collectors may say that the Flyer is second rate, but for all of them there appears to be another who feels the contrary. The great thing is that there still are lots of the old American model trains running the rails today. What do you want for Christmas?

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