Book Review: The Golden Years of Tin Toy Trains
Anyone who is serious about collecting antiques realizes that research is central to the hobby. Therefore, I have decided to review a number of books recently added to my shelf. These reviews will be scattered among the many topics discussed in this forum. I begin with a look at Paul Klein Schiphorst’s “The Golden Years of Tin Toy Trains, 1850 - 1909,” published by New Cavendish Books.
I’ve had this volume for over a year and find myself constantly drawn back to its beautiful production value and extremely rare trains. Schiphorst begins the book with a brief chapter on pre-1850’s trains and then splits the remaining chapters into French manufacturers and German manufacturers. The author begins by telling us that his own collecting interests began with accessories which he felt were much underrepresented in existing literature. Therefore, he has included both a train and accessories chapter for most of the represented manufacturers.
The French chapters begin with a timeline describing the development and mergers of various manufacturers. I found this extremely useful from a research standpoint and wish the author had done the same for the better known German manufacturers. This would have been especially useful for companies such as Rock & Graner and Ernst Plank. However, his coverage of both the trains and accessories of these companies is exceptional, providing images of little seen or known makes and models. Indeed, as is New Cavendish Books’ creed, this volume gives average collectors the chance to own a piece of something most could never afford.
The 1000+ color photos expertly photographed by the author make this a coffee table book beyond comparison. Rather than simply depicting “mug shots” of the trains described, the author has propped them with structures and figures that are era-specific. He even goes as far as including early lead flats figures with the earliest trains. The author’s eye for detail in this area is truly exceptional. Additionally, this volume was not slighted on production value. It is beautifully bound with gilded edges and sold with a protective slip-box. Overall, “The Golden Years of Tin Toy Trains” has an heirloom quality which separates it from other books on my shelves.
If there is one criticism I have of this title it is the limited written descriptions of the trains and accessories depicted. From a research standpoint it would be nice to have the same amount of detail on the Marklin and Bing trains as we are given on those of French manufacture. However this information is available through other publications, and its neglect in this volume does not reduce its value as the greatest book produced on trains of this era. Now, if only someone would do this for early American Tin Trains, hmm maybe a project for my retirement years.