Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Japanese Litho Train Sets 2 - Thinking Inside the Box

Last post I outlined the purpose of this project -- to build up a catalog of Japanese postwar tin toy train sets. Perhaps I need to define the parameters a bit more. The toys I'm talking about are:

  1. Manufactured in Japan between 1949 - 1965
  2. Have locomotives and rolling stock built primarily of lithographed tin
  3. Operate under their own power, either from a battery power pack, or batteries installed in the locomotive
  4. Are not floor toys, but are designed to run on track provided with the set
There seem to be no reference books, toy catalogs, retail ads, or other traditional primary sources I can use to research these sets. But there is one resource available: the set box. Take the example below (click on image to enlarge).

This actually provides quite a bit of information.
  1. Set name and and catalog number (Cragstan 1892)
  2. Name of importer (Cragstan) and original manufacturer (Yonezowa)
  3. An inventory of the set contents
  4. Details about the locomotive (battery operated, lighted, forward/reverse)
  5. A fairly accurate representation of the set
If we could examine the box, we might find a copyright notice that might help provide a release date for the set. But even just looking carefully at this photo, I now have some useful information about the Cragstan 1892.

Collectors of Japanese toys will tell you that having the box with the toy often doubles the value. The reason is the attractive graphics of the boxes. But for me, the information they contain really makes them valuable.

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