A reader writes:
I just read some of what Paul D Race has written and want to thank you for your knowledge. I'm inheriting a large train collection from my dad and have a question or two, if I may. He has thousands of pieces and most of it is going to grandsons, friends, and the local train club. However, I do not feel that I would not do my dad justice, for all his hard work and money he spent on his lgb collection. With the exception of the 1st lgb set that he bought and ran under the Christmas tree every year and then later made it's way to the huge outdoor layout, all of his sets, and individual cars were only taken out of the box once to run on his track, and immediately put back into the box and displayed on his shelves. So these (only been out of the box once) sets and individual vintage lgb trains I would like to sell. it sounds like ebay may be the Avenue to use to get the most money out of this collection, and I'm willing to take the time but, I would like to take take the easy roa
d and sell them altogether at one time to someone. Giving him or her a deal for buying the whole collection. My question is how do I find this serious collector ? You sound like you have the experience to help me whether it be in a newspaper, or train club,or ebay, Oregon, something I'm overlooking. I'll take any advice you're willing to send my way.thanks again for your website and hope to hear from you.
---------our answer - please feel free to add your own, but be kind. -------------
First of all, I'm sorry about your father. I also know many families in your condition - so many that I wrote an article about just this. Did you see the article?http://familygardentrains.com/blog_like ... trains.htm
I'm not sure what you meant by "most of it going to grandsons, friends, and the local train club." If certain pieces have already been promised, that's fine - you need to set them aside and get it out of your way as soon as possible. Or maybe you just feel like it's the right thing to do. That's all up to you. Depending on the size of your extended family, I don't know how you would be able to sort out the folks who would appreciate stuff and maybe actually use it from the ones who will post it on eBay tomorrow or something anyway. The large HO collection of one fellow I know is still in his son's attic. He had at least three granddaughters who would probably like something to remember him by and who would probably cherish it but never set it up and a several other grandkids who have no interest whatsoever in the things but who would demand "their share" so they could pawn them for beer money or some such. So I'm not being flippant when I say I understand the issues involved, even if you're trying to do the right thing. Or the hassles.
The first thing to do is an inventory. If you're confident about the pieces being in good condition, you shouldn't have to take them out of the box. But you SHOULD compare the box to the piece to make certain they match, if you can.
That said, let's assume you discharge your responsibilities and distribute promised or expected trains to the appropriate recipients without overwhelming them or being stupid about it. And let's assume that in your attempt to be generous you don't let folks "cherry-pick" the most expensive pieces just because they can get more for them on eBay. And you still have many pieces left some of value.
The next thing to do might be to try to find a collector or liquidator who will look over the list of remaining inventory and give you some idea of what its worth to him or her (probably 25-33% of what its worth if you sell each piece separately, which is what they will probably do).
The only commercial train liquidator I've ever recommended is Watts Train Shop, in central Indiana. I don't know if they'll be that interested in going so far west. If the collector/liquidator won't give an estimate sight unseen, ask for a range, with the maximum assuming the condition you think it's in.
Then you have to decide if you want to get into the model train reselling business. At that point, eBay comes into the picture.
The rest is up to you.
Hope this makes sense.
Got to run. Please write back if I didn't answer your question or something else comes up.
Best of luck,