So that’s where they all went!
By Dave McEntarfer
It has been almost 10 years now since I researched and wrote
one of the last truly “all Greenberg” price guides;
Volume IV “Lionel Trains Prewar Sets”. Although the
book was not published until 1995, after the buyout of Greenberg
by the Kalmbach Publishing Company, the research and writing
was actually completed under the Bruce Greenberg ownership. I
refer to this only for the historical reason that when the manuscript
for the book became the property of Kalmbach, I was informed
that the book was going to be too long and to get it published
under their accounting guidelines. I would have to reduce the
size to something that could be printed in 200 pages or less.
It was either cut something or the actual publication was going
to be put on hold. The book as published has 10 chapters, but
originally there were 11. Chapter 11 or as it was titled “So
that’s where they all went” covered Lionel’s
Export Department. It covered several of the known foreign catalogs
that Lionel had published and some of the sets that were listed
in those catalogs. I did submit Chapter 11 to Kalmbach as a separate
issue and suggested that they publish it as an article in CTT,
but now eight years later it appears that they won’t be
publishing it in part or whole. Unfortunately several computers
and word processors later, I no longer have a copy of that chapter
and don’t know myself what the actual text of that chapter
My interest in Export Sets originally came about from my research
into IVES trains and catalogs. In conversations with several
experienced IVES collectors, I discovered that many of the rare “Lionel/Ives” sets
made during the 1931-32 period that had been uncovered and were
now in collectors hands had come from outside the United States.
I obtained my first 1694 electric engine from a family in Canada.
When I compared it to one in another collection, the owner told
me that it had originally come from Mexico and was stamped “Made
in the U.S. of America”. Mine had no such stamp. This was
around 1975 and except for some of the books written by Lou Hertz,
I really had no references to follow. I wrote Lou and asked him
if he had any insight into the strange locations that these trains
were coming from. Lou called when he got my letter and went into
great detail about Lionel management deciding that marketing
trains under two names was not in their best interest and that
they decided to phase out the IVES name over the next couple
years and dump the balance of their inventory overseas. Lionel
actually had a separate Export Department which printed catalogs
for these overseas markets. Over the next couple years I was
able to obtain copies of some of these catalogs from various
collectors and actually found that Max Knocklein had reproduced
two of these catalogs, one that was originally printed in Spanish.
Over 25 years later, I still don’t know very much about
these sets, except from the few catalogs I’ve been able
to locate. These catalogs would appear to have been published
sometime during the 1933-1936 time period. The Spanish catalog
appears to have come from Mexico. Another of the export catalogs
was found in a set in Germany, but it would appear to have been
printed for a country in the United Kingdom as the prices were
in listed in UK currency (Pounds/Pence).
Some of the sets pictured in these catalogs have special numbers
that were used only for exported sets, while others have numbers
identical to those found in standard Lionel catalogs.
0 Gauge trains were referred to as ‘Narrow Gauge’ and
Standard Gauge was called Wide Gauge. Freight cars were given
Dump car – Tipping Wagon
Hopper – Coal Wagon
Caboose – Brake Van
Lumber – Timber Wagon
Box car – Goods Van
Gondola – Open Wagon
Tank – Petrol Wagon
Some of the sets listed came with special numbers only found
on these export sets, others used the same numbers as those that
were used in the Lionel Catalogs. I put together a list of these
The special numbers used for ‘narrow gauge’ sets
were in the 3000 series and those used for the Wide Gauge sets
were in the 2000 series. Some of the catalogs distributed through
the United Kingdom showed a special ‘Alderman’ transformer
that they recommended using with all Lionel trains. These ‘Alderman’ transformers
came in Type A recommended for Narrow gauge and Type B recommended
for Wide gauge trains. The descriptions under these transformers
said they were stocked in 100-110 volt or 200-250 volt, 50 cycles.
I don’t know what kind of current they used in England
during the 1930s, but these specs were obviously different than
those listed on transformers in the standard Lionel catalogs.
Another interesting note can be found in the instruction manuals
that came with some of these sets. These manuals contained pictured
instructions on how to disconnect the Chugger unit with a note
that “When operating locomotives on Direct Current it is
necessary to disconnect the Chugger unit”.
The few original sets I’ve been able to observe are really
interesting. The set boxes that came with these unique 2000 and
3000 numbers are always standard Lionel Set boxes but are stamped
either “Made in U.S.A.” or “Made in U.S. of
America”. The inside boxes may be a mixture of Lionel and
IVES, as are the trains. One example came in a Lionel box marked
as Outfit No. 3009. The internal box for the engine and tender
were Lionel, although the tender was marked for “THE IVES
LINES”. The cars were Lionel 610-612 passengers, two of
them had Lionel decals, one had IVES decals and all three cars
came in yellow IVES boxes from 1931. The cars and the boxes were
stamped “Made in U.S. of America”.
Export Outfit No. 3016 was identical to Set No 1616 from the
1932 IVES catalog.
U.S. of America”.
This is the extremely rare 1694 locomotive with the 1695, 1696,
1697 passenger cars. These cars were used by Lionel for years
in uncataloged promotional sets, but the engine was never sold
with the Lionel name on it. What makes this set box even more
interesting is the label. This style of label wasn't used until
by Lionel until 1935. This would indicate that Lionel still had
a substantial inventory of all IVES trains at least as late as
1935 and was selling them in their boxes with IVES name still
on the trains.
The instruction book that came with this set lists that it is
for use with Lionel and Ives equipment.
Export outfit No. 2002E is 100% Lionel and contains wide gauge
locomotive 8E in red with matching 332, 337, 338 passenger cars.
Based on box characteristics - I would put the box to be circa
1934. This set was cataloged by Lionel in 1931 and 1932 as Outfit
No. 360/360E. 1932 was the last year the No. 8 or 8E was cataloged
by Lionel, although it was sold in numerous promotional sets
from 1933 to 1936. So in 1933 or 1934 when this set was being
cataloged and sold overseas, it was not in the current Lionel
consumer catalog. This I believe is the reason for the 'special'
2000 number. Sets sold through the export catalog that were identical
to sets also cataloged in the current U.S. Lionel catalog were
given exactly the same set numbers.