Hornby Tinplate Trains - pre-1939.
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2 June 2008
I see a lot of confusion on eBay as to how to cope with the basics of the English language. Us English native speakers do quietly admit to having a spot of trouble both spelling and pronouncing <February> so what chance is there for a non-native speaker of the English language? Moving on to the actual title of this guide, a lot of confusion also exists as to what Hornby really made at their Binns Road factory in Liverpool and what items were manufactured abroad in France, but turned out in with any of the various British railway companies liveries and markings. Despite a wealth of guidance and very closely researched literature on and about Hornby made pre-1939, some howlers are still appearing, the most common of which is when a Mettoy bridge is passed off as being a Hornby example. The design of trackwork by Lionel Lines across the Big Pond bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Hornby equivalent.............the only question being, who got there first? Dare I suggest that the Lionel track still being made in O-Gauge is actually very robust and differs only in that our Yankee cousins prefer three spikes facing a blank connector. Hornby Series, as the mark as such stamped on, around or underneath every item of Hornby arrived in the 1920s, but collectors can still find pre-Hornby Series stuff without the magic words marked on. Each collector to their own, of course, and some people are not interested in anything unless it was produced post-1945. The thing to watch is the original colours of the item and whether it has been doctored or tampered with, which immediately reduces its value and original charm. The tinplate was not designed to last, of course, but much has. Sometimes the box survives! Each box also has its army of enthusiasts, so much that repro boxes are 'big business', where the original is no longer available. The reality of the production line at Binns Road actually ran on into 1941 but petered out owing to the factory being converted to war products and manufacture of any tinplate items was banned, such was the control of all factories, plants and foundries under the Ministry of Munitions and Ordinance. Do watch what you appear to see as being Hornby but your only guide is the photos offered. I have been personally deceived by one or two items placed on eBay, but am happy to record that I have been pretty lucky and rarely get sold a turkey. Never were the words Caveat Emptor more fitting for the world of eBay, both home and abroad.
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