Antique Toy Trains
A toy that almost every boy either had or wanted, toy trains have been providing hours of fun for children since the 1800's. The first toy trains were created by Marklin in Germany in 1891. The company was instrumental in starting the toy train industry as well as devising a way to differentiate the toys by their size. A naming system based on gauges 0-5 was developed and spread worldwide. Unfortunately there was some confusion about the sizing and train companies in the U.S. somehow ended up with slight variations in size, most notably Lionel's Standard gauge sizing.
Lionel was one of the most instrumental toy train makers in the United States and their strongest competitor, American Flyer. Both companies further developed the Gauge system with American Flyer offering Wide gauge electric trains. American Flyer thrived during the Great Depression because they offered trains at a low price, but the company was eventually sold to A.C. Gilbert Company in 1938. Gilbert introduced S Gauge in the mid 1940's after the disappointments of Lionel's O scale, which was also being used by another manufacturer, Marx.
No matter the size or brand, toy trains have played a special part of the history of toys.