Although, like many people, I rely on the Interent as a research tool.But it's not the be-all end-all. It's only as good as the information that's been made available online.
point: I recently read an interesting article about a very specific
subject: the history of toy train sets made for JC Penney by the
American Flyer company between 1929 and 1931.(Don't worry -- this post
isn't about toy trains.)
The article, Nation Wide Lines,
was pretty interesting, and I wanted to know more. So I went online.
And found.... well, not nothing. But a very small set of information
The house brand for these toys was
Nation Wide Lines. Since all the search terms I was using (American
Flyer, Nation Wide Lines, JC Penney, etc.) were common words with many
different meanings, I was careful to use phrases and multiple-keyword
searches to keep the results focused on my topic.
of the top search results was the online version of the original
article. The remainder were offerings from various auction sites. And
worse yet, there were only about three or four different auction lots.
All the hits came from sites that scraped data from eBay, Stout Auctions
and another major auction house.
So what did I expect
to find? Well, even for a subject as obscure as this there should be a
fair amount of source material. For starters, there have been several
scholarly works written about the American Flyer company which would
have information about the Nation Wide line. Then there are histories of
the JC Penny company. And there are original (and reproduction) JC
Penney catalogs available. And there may be some other articles from
other hobby magazines. But none of it is online.
while I have a good idea of what these toy trains might be worth (thanks
to the endless auction listings), I don't know anything else.
This is research that might have to take place offline.