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Item lioneltrainsgrading



Postwar Lionel Trains are defined as Lionel Trains produced between 1945 (when production resumed after World War II) and 1969, when Lionel was purchased by General Mills.
  • Postwar has been a speciality of the Train-Station since we were founded in 1974, and we want to bring the same high standards of quality and description to our internet customers that has characterized our in-store sales activities.
  • Unless marked 'as is', all our postwar Lionel trains have been repaired and operate well, no matter what cosmetic grade is assigned. Exception: Mint Trains are not tested nor is operation guaranteed.
  • We use description standards as published by the Train Collectors Association. Keep in mind at all times that these standards are mainly in regard to condition of the original finish.
  • As most experienced collectors recognize, today there is a large tendency to overgrade material, particularly in connection with the manufacturing processes of that era and marks that occurred in the factory.
  • First, LIKE NEW. The official description for LIKE NEW reads "Free of blemishes, nicks or scratches, original condition throughout, very little sign of use"
  • Like New postwar pieces are practically non-existant!!!
  • The factory processes of that period inevitably meant that the bodies were nicked or marked in the factory, and/or there were paint imperfections and overspray. (We once had a GG1 with a painted over scratch which completely vanished under the heat stamped gold lettering. The heat stamping process melted the metal and wiped out the scratch.)
  • During the 70's and early 80's we hardly ever graded a piece as Like New. A true excellent piece was beautiful and very collectable. One friend Was never been able to complete his collection of F-3's because he wanted perfect (Like New) pieces, and during the period of 1970 thru 2002 was still missing 5 units.
  • The official description standard for EXCELLENT reads "Minute nicks or scratches, no dents or rust"
  • The problem with the definition of excellent is that the word MINUTE is not precise as to how large the nick or scratch can be and still be considered minute. Can minute be a 1/32 inch scratch or a 1/2 inch scratch?......or longer???
  • Our old definition was if we held the piece at arms length and could NOT see the mark, the mark was minute and the piece qualifies as excellent
  • If we could see the mark, the piece was graded as very good
  • This method also took into account the visibility factor in terms of where the mark was and the color of the background. For instance, a 1/8 inch long scratch on a green southern F3 that is deep enough to expose the grey plastic colored shell underneath is highly visible and stands out like a sore thumb. We would have graded the piece 'very good'. The same size scratch on the Grey Plastic Milwaukee F3 or a Khaki Picatinny Switcher (both have unpainted plastic bodies with the color of the plastic serving as the main body color) might not be visible, and could qualify as excellent
  • Quite frankly, if we used these criteria today, we would be desecrating the value of each piece we sell, because our 'very good' pieces would would be priced at much higher prices than everyone else's Like New - or Excellent Plus material, and people who don't know us would say we are nuts
  • Much of what we see advertised today is rated as Excellent or Excellent Plus, but would fail our old 'arms length' criteria. (We can see the scratches)
  • Anyone grading the condition of an item as excellent can say it was his opinion that all the scratches and marks on the piece were MINUTE, even if one was 1/2" or 1 inch long or more
  • There is nothing wrong with that as long as a buyer and seller agree on the exact criteria for their transaction, i.e. that a 1/2 inch scratch is minute, but a one inch scratch is not minute etc.
  • So, what we are going to do?
  • We will attempt to show any major marks in the picture, and give you a grading that would apply if those marks were not there
  • For instance, we have many beautiful pieces which are practically in original perfect condition and 'like new' describes the overall condition in terms of paint color, surfacecondition and overall beauty. We will say, "would be LIKE NEW except for the mark identified with the arrow" if we can picture it.
  • Or "would be EXCELLENT if not for this mark and/or several other small or usual marks that occurred in the factory or from usage that the camera won't show but are not visible from a 2 foot distance.
  • In doing this, you should be able to see the exact marks and decide for yourself what you consider to be minute, and what the grade is.
  • The official description for MINT reads 'Brand New, absolutely unmarred, all original and unused.'
  • Many mint items left the factory with marks that occurred in the factory. Since they are unused, they are graded as Mint, even though there is a conflicting statement 'absolutely unmarred.' Frequently Like New material is in better cosmetic condition than Mint items
  • Running most locos as little as 6 inches will scribe and engrave the drive wheels immediately adjacent to the flange
  • Sometimes there are chaffing marks on wheels which might make you think they have been run - but these are usually further out from the rims and were part of the manufacturing process
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