you consider selling your train collection, which method you choose
will depend on your priorities. The three factors for you to consider
the highest possible price.
The amount of work you are willing to do
How quickly you want to get the money
are the most common options that you have in selling your trains
and an idea on how well each matches up with your priorities above.
your trains using an Auction House
This depends. Auctions do best if you have high-end items like
Mint and Like-New Postwar and Prewar trains and you enlist
an auction house that specializes in toy trains. The auction
house generally keeps 30% of the sale price of your trains
- 15% from you as a commission and another 15% as a buyer’s
premium. You are at the mercy of the crowd that day. If you
have a lot of “inexpensive” items like freight cars, expect
them to be sold in lots, further lowering your return. Some
auction houses are not even interested in Modern era Lionel
and other manufacturers items for their auctions.
This depends, sometimes it is minimal, they come and pick it
up, or you may need to haul it all to them.
Money – Plan on waiting 4 to 12 months for your trains
to be scheduled at the next available auction, and then another
month or so for them to do the final accounting and to write
you a check.
your trains using an on-line auction
You are at the mercy of the crowd on-line that week. Fees will
cost you about 3 to 5% of the final sale price, if you sell
with no reserve. If you put a reserve, your fee will be more,
you will alienate some buyers and you will have items that
do not sell for your reserves, so you will need to re-list
them and either lower, or eliminate your reserve and take your
This takes a huge effort. Taking pictures, writing descriptions,
filling out auction forms, handling correspondence, getting
boxes and packing material, packing, labeling, taking check
to the bank, waiting for them to clear, hauling everything
to the post office or UPS. Then handing complaints, tracking
requests, damage claims and returns. Do not sell your items
on an on-line auction without pictures!
Money – Fairly quick depending on how fast you can get
the auctions going. If you work at it full time, you can
expect to get 20 items done per day including creating the
listings and packing out the ones that have sold.
your trains at train shows
Here you can set your prices, but you also have expenses
that can quickly add up, especially if you travel. Travel
expenses can run you several hundred dollars per show when
you add up hotel rooms, table fees, gas, mileage and food.
Also, when there is no show, you have no sales. Your sales
will depend on your competition at each show and what they
have and the prices they have as well as who the buyers are
at the show that weekend and what they are looking for. You
are also at the mercy of the weather as well.
This also takes a huge effort. Packing everything up, unpacking
it, displaying it and spending entire weekends to sell it,
and traveling. To sell through a large collection this can
take an extremely long time, and you will need to continually
lower your prices to get it all moved out.
Money – Not so quick, money will come in in blocks
at the end of each show. When you have a bad out of town
show and you compare your sales to expenses, you will understand
the pitfalls of this approach. This option also introduces
the highest risk of theft and damage of your items.
your trains on Trainz.com
You set your prices, but can still be open to offers. With
Trainz.com there are no fees to list your items, and you only
pay a small sales fee (5% / 2.5%) when they sell.
The listing process has been streamlined as much as possible.
With trainz.com you can quickly list all of your items for
sale utilizing the database of over 11,000 items and picture
library of over 4,000 pictures. You simply register, search
the reference database to find your item, enter the price,
condition, and any notes and you are all set. If you don’t
need to add pictures, you can easily list an item in less than
a minute. This takes a huge effort to ship out every item and
to handle the correspondence, getting boxes and packing material,
packing, labeling, taking checks to the bank, waiting for them
to clear, hauling everything to the post office or UPS. Then
handing complaints, tracking requests, damage claims and returns.
Money – Not so quick, you get money as your items sell.
Of course how fast they sell depends on how you set your
prices. This is a great option if you are concerned about
maximizing your return, willing to do a fair amount of the
work, and are not as concerned about how fast you get the
money coming in. Your items are for sale 24 hours a day,
365 days a year to a potential audience of millions.
your trains to a single buyer
Here you are selling your items at a wholesale price. The
buyer is going to resell them and do all the work. This includes
selling them using any of the above methods or selling them
in a retail store. The pricing you receive will usually be
comparable to that received from an auction firm, but you
will get it much quicker.
This depends in the size of the collection. It is minimal
if the buyers comes to pick it up. You may have to either
pack it up and ship it, or deliver it.
Money – This is the fastest. You get paid in full when
they pick up your trains.