When we think of early model trains, the names Märklin, Lionel, and American Flyer naturally come to mind. After all, Märklin Bros. and Company debuted its first wind-up model train in 1891, Joshua Lionel Cohen designed his first electric train in 1900, and American Flyer got into the model-train business in 1907.

Ives beat them all. Edward Ives established his Ives Manufacturing Company way back in 1868. Between that date and the end of the 19th century, Ives trains were of the pull-toy and wind-up variety, made out of tin or cast-iron. The technology was primitive, spurring unique innovations, such as the “smoking locomotive,” whose stack belched smoke produced by a lit cigarette. Another train was designed to self-destruct when it ran into a barrier, as if its boiler had exploded. Ah, those were the days.

After 1900, Ives made tracks for its trains, and by 1910, electric trains running on O-gauge tracks were added to the product line. Ives had been late to the electric-train party, and its competitors, particularly Lionel, were anxious to keep another manufacturer out of the model-train business. Lionel even went so far as to run ads mocking the quality of Ives products—Lionel trains were made out of steel, with baked-enamel graphics; Ives trains were still being produced in cast-iron, and the designs on its rolling stock were lithographed.

Ives fought back by coming out with its own number-2, or wide-gauge, tracks and trains to compete with Lionel’s larger “standard gauge” offerings (that phrase had been trademarked by Lionel). The company’s shift, as well as the high quality of the motors in its locomotives, made Ives a force to be reckoned with in the 1920s, when ads promised “Ives Toys Make Happy Boys.” Today, vintage 1920s Ives trains such as the 3243, 3237, and 3245 locomotives are quite collectible.

But Ives ran out of steam in 1928, when it filed for bankruptcy. Lionel and American Flyer bought the assets of their former rival, and in 1931 Lionel purchased all of American Flyer’s shares in Ives. For a brief period, Lionel produced a few Ives trains, such as the highly prized 1764E, which was branded with both the Ives and Lionel names on its side. Lionel also made an Ives line of less-expensive wind-up trains, but Lionel’s management dumped the line entirely in 1932.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Airfix Model Railways

Airfix Model Railways

Dave McCarthy's Airfix Model Railway treasure trove is an in-depth archive of the company's plastic railway kits fr… [read review or visit site]

Gateway NMRA

Gateway NMRA

This great reference site for model railroaders, from the Gateway (St. Louis) division of the NMRA (National Model … [read review or visit site]

HOseeker.net

HOseeker.net

This site is a treasure trove of HO scale model railroad manufacturer catalogs and other reference information, inv… [read review or visit site]

Postwar Lionel Trains Library

Postwar Lionel Trains Library

Bernie Schulz’s Lionel Trains Library focuses exclusively on postwar Lionel trains and accessories. The site cont… [read review or visit site]

Eric's Trains

Eric's Trains

Eric Siegel's site displays his collection of O-gauge/O-scale trains, tracks, turntables, and other accessories. A … [read review or visit site]

Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT

Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT

MIT's model railroad club, as one might expect, has one of the best websites for learning about how people play wit… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Ives "the White Owl" No. 502 Passenger Train Set, Complete W Original Box, 1927Ives Conductors Outfit Set From 1927, Complete In Original Box!!!Ives O Gauge Train Set #572 Blue Vagabond C.1930-montgomery Ward Spec. W/ob OsbVintage Prewar Ives Standard Gauge No.3241 Nyc Electric EngineEarly Prewar Standard Scale Ives Railway Lines #226 Suburban Station W/ BoxOld 1920s Ives Train Set Motor 3254 Orange 3 Cars Tin Station Tunnel Track ToyAmerican Flyer Prewar Wide Gauge 4694 Steam Loco! Transition Ives 1134! Nice!!!Ives # 3253 Electric Train Engine Prewar For Lionel LayoutPassenger Station Destination Signs, Bing, Marklin, Ives Manually OperatedEarly Prewar O Scale Ives Pennsylvania Lines Tin Train Cars #51 & 2 Chassis Ives Passenger Train Set 502, In Original Box, 3252,60,61,68-mid 1920'sIves 60 Prewar Express Service Baggage Mail Train Car W/ T Trucks (lot 1)Early Prewar O Scale Ives #11 Cast Iron Steam Locomotive Engine Ives 60 Prewar Express Service Baggage Mail Train Car W/ T Trucks (lot 2)Lionel/ives 5004 Transition Steam Freight Set: 257, 1712, 1709, 1707 & 1708/boxWinner Prewar Train Engine Fits Lionel & Ives TrackIves Standard Gauge 3242 Green Original 1922 Ives 195 Standard Gauge CabooseIves 60 & 61 Prewar Baggage Mail Car & Yale Passenger Car W/ T TrucksIves Railway Lines 192 Standard Gauge Santa Fe Refrigerator Car Four Ives Prewar Train Cars For Lionel LayoutTrain Engine Shed German Rare Prewar Fits Ives Or Lionel O GaugeIves 62 Prewar Harvard Passenger Train Car W/ T Trucks For Lionel Layout/ives 122 0 Ga Tanker Needs A CouplerIves O Gauge Lighted Passenger Car Set In Blue, Gold, White-135, 136Mike's Train House Std. Ga. Ives 196c Flat Car With 2 Open Cages 10-1125c MibIves Train Electric Number 1118 Locomotive For Parts Or RepairIves 3258, The Yankee Clipper Electric Locomotive, 1929-1930Rare Ives 1 Gauge Pre War Tin Toy Train #181 Buffet Coach Old Custom Look!!Marklin, Bing, Hafner, Ives, Switch Machine Light, Kerosene BurnerIves Pre-war "o" Gauge No. 50 & 51 Tin Litho Pass Cars-1915 Originals-gorgeous!Water Tower Spout For American Flyer, Ives, Bing,lionel Standard Gauge NrIves Pre-war "o" Gauge 60,61,62 Tin Litho Pass Cars-1920's-originals-very Nice!Ives #3261 Locomotive-black With Orange Frame - Ca 1930Ives Santa Fe 6" Box Car -t Trucks - Ca 1916Ives Tin Plate Tender Early Ho Ga Vintage Ives Toys Trains - 1915 Catalog - Excellent ConditionIves 3255r Electric Loco & Cars 129 Saratoga 130 Buffet 132 Obs Redon Vg+deal!Ives O Ga Pre-war Passenger Car Roofs, Perfect Fpr Restoration Projects No Res.Standard Gauge Flat Car, Marklin, Hafner, Bing, IvesIves Water Tower For Lionel Prewar Train LayoutIves Std Scale Tin R.r. Station Ticket Office #114 (l67 Mike's Train House Std. Ga. Ives 196c Flat Car With Ticket Booths 10-1125d MibIves Train Track With Pronounced Center Rails Very Rare For Lionel LayoutIves Lehigh Valley 6" Box Car - T Trucks - Ca 1916Mike's Train House Std. Ga. Ives 193c Animal Car 10-1125e MibRare Antique Prewar Two Bell Signal Ives #1884/lionel #069 1930-31 Vintage UsedVintage Ives Trains - 1932 Catalog - Excellent CondIves Pullman Club & Observation Cars Model 184 And 186 Standard Gauge Redone Antique Bing Ives 3238 Nyc & Hr New York Central Lines Train Engine,germanyIves 3250 Elec Loco Light Brown Prewar O-gauge Nyc & HrIves Pre-war "o" Gauge No. 52 Tin Lithographed 5" Parlor Car-1915 Original-nice!Ives Pre-war "o" Gauge No. 61 Chair Car-6.5"-1920's Tin Litho-original-gorgeous!Vintage Ives Train O-ga.green No. 129 Saratoga Passenger Coach - G (#2)) Ives Train Flat Car For Restoration Standard Gauge 196 ? 2 Of 2Ives Train 20-194 Gondola Or Gravel Car For Restoration Standard Gauge Ives Train Flat Car For Restoration Standard Gauge 196 ? 1 Of 2Ives Pennsylvania Union Lines 6" Box Car-m Trucks - Cut Frame - Ca. 1919Ives Pre-war Passenger Cars 60 Series, 2of Them,60 Mail,61 Chair Car Dark MaroonPre-war Ives Antique 1920 Heavy 136 Pullman/observation Car, Repainted, Nice