Prewar Lionel Trains Archive Library and Forum
Welcome to PREWARLIONEL.com
This site is devoted to archiving and discussing Prewar Lionel Electric Trains from the tinplate era.
Over the years I noticed that there were wonderful sites devoted to documenting Postwar and Modern Lionel Trains but I couldn't find one focused on Lionel's Prewar Tinplate Toy Trains. Some great books on the subject are available, often well used, sometimes rare and priced accordingly, but they are not on the shelf of every Toy Train / Model Railroad enthusiast. I decided that maybe with the help of many other model railroad and model train enthusiasts that I would establish a site.
This site endeavors to build a Prewar Lionel Archive Library showing and documenting all of the Lionel steam, diesel and electric locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, accessories and other interesting items associated with the Prewar era from 1900 to 1943. This library will be built over time using the contributions of collectors like you and should become a valuable resource for all.
There is also a Prewar Lionel Forum where collectors can discuss the various models, their collections, fond memories, restoration, repairs or just share opinions on the topic of the day. A library of catalogs, brochures, advertisements and repair information will also be assembled for the use of collectors.
Thanks for Visiting!!
So What are Prewar Lionel Electric Trains?
If you are a longtime collector you may already know the answer to that question, but if you are new to the hobby or you've always focused on a certain era you may be unfamiliar with that term.
Over the past 115 years Lionel produced many trains. Collectors have, over time, loosely categorized them based on ownership tendencies of the company and on pivotal events such as World War II.
From 1900 to 1943 Lionel's trains were mostly made of metal and are referred to as "tinplate". This was similar with other companies producing many products including toys, home goods, sporting equipment, automobiles and practically anything that was intended to be durable. Lionel's products evolved over that time period but were constructed largely in the same way throughout the era. Lionel's products were first and foremost toys and efforts to emulate real prototype trains were ongoing, but less important in these years. Collectors refer to this period as "Prewar".
During World War II most manufacturers like Lionel shifted production to items that supported the war effort. This dramatically changed and altered their facilities, tooling and design philosophies. Plastics created prior to and during the war found thousands of new uses. The light weight, durability and less expensive production costs of plastics changed the way most companies produced goods in the Postwar years. Lionel was no exception. After the war Lionel continued some Prewar designs but quickly shifted to new designs with much more plastic and much less metal. They also produced designs that more closely resembled real prototype trains. This era to many was the golden age of the company with popular new designs and a large growth in sales. Many of those designs are still in production today. From 1945 to 1969 the products and designs produced by Lionel were of a similar nature and consistent corporate philosophy. Collectors refer to this period as "Postwar".
New ownership in the late 1960's and several ownership changes since have produced significant changes in the design of Lionel's products. While many classic Postwar designs have been continued on an off over the past 55+ years, more realism, high tech features and the realities of global competition have taken root. Collectors refer to the period from 1969 to Present as "Modern".
Some collectors focus on one of these eras, while others collect from all of them. No matter what your interests are I hope you enjoy Prewarlionel.com and I hope you'll become a Member!!
Contribute to PREWARLIONEL.com and our archives!! It's FREE!! Just send us an email at the following link; firstname.lastname@example.org