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Lionel Model Railroads & Trains

One of the most recognized brands in the model railroad hobby is Lionel. This company manufactures model railroad products in O gauge and is famous for its specialty model railroad sets sold at Christmas time. Lionel has built a following of model railroad enthusiasts who build their collections strictly out of Lionel stock.

Joshua Lionel Cowen founded the Lionel company in 1900. He designed his first electric model train, The Electric Express, in 1901 as a window display for toy stores. By 1906, Lionel offered a selection of engines and cars as well as preassembled track. Lionel used three-rail standard-gauge track designed to eliminate circuits. They began manufacturing model trains in O gauge in 1915, and this size eventually replaced the standard-gauge trains. Lionel discontinued the manufacture of standard gauge in 1939.

Lionel's popularity grew after World War II, and they reached their peak of production in the '50s. This era included the release of Lionel's greatest steam locomotive, the No. 746 Norfolk and Western. Lionel's popularity declined in the '60s, and the company was sold to General Mills in 1969. General Mills revived Lionel model trains in the '70s, and the company has survived several changes in ownership since. Lionel model trains for sale at auction continue to draw great interest from collectors and enthusiasts all over the world.

Quick Facts

  • Lionel's first model trains were powered by wet cell batteries. These batteries were filled with acid and dangerous. The company soon replaced the batteries with 110-volt transformers
  • The 2004 Polar Express train set, designed to commemorate the movie "The Polar Express," is one of Lionel's best-selling model train sets of all time
  • In 2016, a standard-gauge Lionel train set from 1934 sold at auction for $250,000. The set included a 400E engine and state passenger cars, all in mint condition in the original box
  • In recent years, Lionel has moved production of some limited edition lines back to the United States. Lionel trains corporate headquarters are now located in Concord, North Carolina.

Learn more about the history and value of Lionel trains on the Invaluable blog.

Recommended Items at Auction

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Lionel Trains Pennsylvania 2360 Engine
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Lionel Trains Pennsylvania 2360 Engine
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Est: $10- $1,000
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Lionel Lines Santa Fe Silver Passenger Train Set Display Case
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Lionel Lines Santa Fe Silver Passenger Train Set Display Case
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Lionel 100th Anniversary Gold 700E Hudson Train
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Lionel Lines Classic Freight 6-30070 Set Accessories
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Lionel Lines Classic Freight 6-30070 Set Accessories
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Nice Lionel 2354C NYC F3 B-Unit
Oct 11, 10:00 AM EDT
Nice Lionel 2354C NYC F3 B-Unit
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Est: $100- $200
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35 Lionel Packet Envelopes, Most Full
Oct 11, 10:00 AM EDT
35 Lionel Packet Envelopes, Most Full
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Est: $80- $160
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Lionel 18011 Chessie T-1 Steam Loco & Tender W/Railsounds
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 18011 Chessie T-1 Steam Loco & Tender W/Railsounds
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Est: $20- $200
$1406 Bids
Lionel 11116 Union Pacific FEF3 Northern Greyhound #844 Steam Locomotive & Tender With Legacy
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 11116 Union Pacific FEF3 Northern Greyhound #844 Steam Locomotive & Tender With Legacy
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $800
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Nice Boxed Lionel 2360 PRR GG1 Electric
Oct 11, 10:00 AM EDT
Nice Boxed Lionel 2360 PRR GG1 Electric
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Est: $300- $600
$3206 Bids
Scarce Lionel Factory Error 6464-650
Oct 11, 10:00 AM EDT
Scarce Lionel Factory Error 6464-650
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $200- $400
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Lionel 31947 World Of Disney Train Set Factory Sealed MINT
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 31947 World Of Disney Train Set Factory Sealed MINT
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $250
$1105 Bids
Two Lionel 52197 GP 9 Artrain Diesel Locomotives
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Two Lionel 52197 GP 9 Artrain Diesel Locomotives
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $200
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Lionel 84109 L&N GP7 LionChief Plus Diesel Locomotive W/Railsounds
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 84109 L&N GP7 LionChief Plus Diesel Locomotive W/Railsounds
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $250
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Lionel Mickey Mouse Electric Engine, Sixteen Freight Cars, & Beacon
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel Mickey Mouse Electric Engine, Sixteen Freight Cars, & Beacon
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $200
$1005 Bids
NMINT Boxed Lionel Flat Channel Passenger Cars
Oct 11, 10:00 AM EDT
NMINT Boxed Lionel Flat Channel Passenger Cars
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $200- $500
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Lionel 81101 The Polar Express Train Set Special 10th Anniversary Limited Edition with LionChief RTR
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 81101 The Polar Express Train Set Special 10th Anniversary Limited Edition with LionChief RTR
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $400
$1105 Bids
Lionel 2245 TS F3 AB Diesels
Oct 11, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 2245 TS F3 AB Diesels
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Est: $100- $200
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Five Lionel Layout Accessories. Carousel, Lumberjacks, Ice Rink, & Playground
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Five Lionel Layout Accessories. Carousel, Lumberjacks, Ice Rink, & Playground
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $180
$804 Bids
Lionel 11984 Corvette Train Set SEALED
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 11984 Corvette Train Set SEALED
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $300
$1104 Bids
Lionel 18009 NYC 4-8-2 Mohawk L-3 Steam Loco And Tender
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel 18009 NYC 4-8-2 Mohawk L-3 Steam Loco And Tender
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $250
$1004 Bids
Three Lionel Diesel Engines. CP Rail, Gulf Mobile and Ohio, & Wabash
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Three Lionel Diesel Engines. CP Rail, Gulf Mobile and Ohio, & Wabash
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $150
$1104 Bids
Lionel Illinois Central F3 A-B-A Units & Seven Passenger Cars
Oct 13, 10:00 AM EDT
Lionel Illinois Central F3 A-B-A Units & Seven Passenger Cars
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $300
$1004 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Lionel Model Railroads & Trains


Weiss Auctions

Weiss Auctions

Kraft Auction Service

Kraft Auction Service

Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists

Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists

Denise Ryan Auction Co.

Denise Ryan Auction Co.