Valley auction of model trains brings in $38K

NORTH LIMA — Auction of the model train collection of a well known North Lima resident generated nearly $40,000 with bidders from six states wanting to get items.

Paul Basinger with Basinger Auction Services said the auction, which closed Tuesday, had two open houses before the closing date with people of all ages attending to see the 29-by 24-foot display of many pieces of the post-war Lionel model trains. The O-scale collection had belonged to Ronald Rapp, who owned several Dairy Queens in the North Lima area.

“This auction was very popular. We had people bidding from six different states and raised $38,550. We have already been shipping items to North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania,” Basinger said.

He estimates Rapp’s collection had between 2,500 and 3,000 pieces of engine, car and accessories. Pre-auction estimates had the collection pegged to bring in between $34,000 and $35,000.

He said the event had 532 registered bidders with 117 successful bidders. Basinger said one person spent $4,900.

The highest selling item was a 13-piece LGB limited edition Wilson Brothers Circus set that sold for $1,200.

“Everything sold. It was one of the largest collections we have ever auctioned. We had 534 lots and many boxes and cases with some lots having only one item such as a single-engine locomotive while another box had 25 pieces of train tracks. People liked that many of the items were still in their original boxes,” Basinger said.

“We acquired his extensive collection. The collection has a huge variety of pieces. Some are older, and others are newer,” he said

He said he was very impressed with the success of the auction. But he is noticing is that “the true train hobby collectors” are getting older.

“The younger generations do not seem to be interested in this. The older generation is the ones collecting items for their hobby,” he said.

Lionel train sets, pieces and accessories can sell for a few hundred dollars or for a few thousand dollars, depending on the rarity and condition of the piece. Basinger said he has sold a variety of train collections including a Mickey Mouse-themed collection for $2,000.

“It all depends on what collectors and investors are looking for. You will usually have something someone wants or is interested in,” he said.

Rapp died in 2018 at age 82.

Basinger said he remembered growing up on a farm near where Rapp and his family lived.

“He was well known having grown up in North Lima. I grew up on a farm like he did. His family grew potatoes, and we had milking cows. I remember he was 8 or 9 years older than me,” said Basinger.