Flying Scotsman

Model Railway Auctions

Examples of scale model stationary engines, live steam locomotives, and scratch built models have been very popular in recent model railway auctions. Stationary engines by Mamod, Marklin, and Wilesco have their own enthusiastic collectors. As does the world-famous Bassett-Lowke brand, founded just down the road in Northampton. Their output of stationary and scale model trains and ships have been in high demand for generations. For model railway enthusiast the locomotives themselves often command the most interest, but trackside accessories, buildings and scenery can also be very popular. Whatever the gauge, model railways are still highly sought-after with Hornby, Wrenn, and Bachmann just some of the main makers. Scratch built live steam pieces can also generate very good interest.

Buying and selling with Gildings Auctioneers

We host three auctions a year dedicated to Toys, Model Railways, and Memorabilia, typically in February, June, and November. The auctions can be viewed at our saleroom in Leicestershire, with easy transport links via road and rail.

If buyers are unable to attend the auction, they can bid at model railway auctions online, via the telephone, or leave an absentee bid.

If you would like to be kept informed of our model auctions, sign-up to our dedicated newsletter for Toys, Model Trains, and Memorabilia. We’ll alert you to upcoming auctions, consignment closing dates, and other related news and valuation days. Or if you’re looking for something specific, create an account and set up a Lot Alert - we’ll send you a notification of anything meeting your criteria coming up for auction with us.

Model Railway valuations

If you have model railways you would like valued for auction it couldn’t be easier. You can submit an enquiry via our Valuations Form where you can upload images and details of your items. From these images, our Specialist will be able to give an initial guide into likely auction value. You can share multiple files by emailing our Specialist directly, or alternatively book an appointment to see us in person. For larger collections and items a home visit may be arranged.

As with any valuation, certain factors will be crucial in determining a more accurate and realistic auction estimate. The condition of an item is especially important to dedicated collectors in this field. Not until our Specialist has seen an item in person would the final auction advice be agreed.

Gildings can also provide professional valuations of Toys, Trains and Memorabilia, for insurance or probate purposes. As a professional valuation, there would be a charge for this service. Please contact us to discuss further.

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Upcoming Auction

Die-Cast, Comics, Trains, and Aero-engines

Die-Cast, Comics, Trains, and Aero-engines

1st Aug, 2024 10:00


What model trains and railways do we sell at auction?


The Iconic maker of childhood model railway! Hornby took the name of Frank Hornby, founder of the sister toy company Meccano, founded in Liverpool in 1908. The first train produced under the tradename of Hornby was released in 1920. It was a tin-plate clockwork O gauge, followed soon after by the company’s first electric train models. The brand soon spread with global acclaim, and have ever since been highly collectable. The most prized trains in a Hornby auction are the early O gauge models of tin-plate clockwork construction, especially if you find them in original boxes. Between 1938 and 1963 Hornby brought out a range of OO gauge railways. These cast metal models have become the stereotypical train of childhood memories. Today boxed examples of OO gauge locomotives and good condition wagons/coaches are popular at auction. During the 1960s to 1980s, the quality of Hornby trains reduced as mass production and modern building practices were used. These trains do not tend to attract as much interest from collectors. During the 1990s until today Hornby trains are made in China, and the quality and detail of the models have democratically increased with many ranges holding their value at auction and even go up in value. Also popular with collectors is the vast range of railway set accessories that Hornby produced in their heyday. It has resulted in Hornby being the backbone of nearly all model railway auctions.

Hornby 0 gauge railway locomotives


Founded in Northampton 1899 by Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke, Bassett-Lowke became world-renowned for making model trains, boats, ships and construction sets. They were also involved in importing quality toys and trains from Germany, mostly known for bringing the brand Bing to the UK. Bassett-Lowke made mostly O gauge model trains that came with bright yellow labelled boxes, which, if in good condition, can fetch hundreds of pounds at auction today. They also however produced live-steam models, as well as Gauge 2 and Gauge 1 locomotives, or "Low-kos". Today a Chinese company have brought the Bassett-Lowke brand and they continue to make high-quality locomotives of high detail, and they still hold their value well. For its collectors, the history and quality associated with the Bassett-Lowke name make their locomotives very popular in model railway auctions.

Bassett-Lowke O gauge locomotive and tender, "Prince Charles"

Bachmann Europe

Originally founded in America, the Bachmann company first launched model railway products in the late 1960s. Bachmann became a maker known for high detail OO gauge model trains. In the late 1980s, they established Bachmann Europe in Barwell, Leicestershire, where they still produce models today. These models are popular with collectors and enthusiasts of model railways because of their wide range of locomotive types and good detail. They have been a close competitor to Hornby. A lot of the Bachmann range have held their value and some of the limited edition runs are popular with collectors. 

Bachmann electric, gauge 1 / G scale, 45mm locomotive and tender

Bing and German Model Railways

Germany is a leading country in model railway production. In Europe, HO gauge is the most used scale. Leading German makers include brands such as Marklin, Fleischmann, Vollmer, Noch, Piko and Trix. HO scale remains popular with European collectors and enthusiasts because many of the locomotives are European trains and rolling-stock. 

One of the most well know and highly-prized makers of early tinplate trains in Germany is Bing, founded by the 'Bing Brothers' in 1863 in Nuremberg. They originally produced metal kitchen utensils, but in 1880 they started making toys, teddy bears, models, and tin-plate vehicles but they are most renowned today for model railways and live steam.  From 1895 Bing was making popular models in O gauge scale, and from the 1920s they were one of the first companies to start making OO scale, which became a British Standard. Collectors at auction today look for early examples of tin-plate locomotives. Bing's large scale model steamboats also have high value at auction, as do their range of tin-plate model vehicles, cars, and trucks. 

Bassett-Lowke Bing import O gauge model Railway Caledonian

Live steam and stationary engines

There is a good market for live steam engines and stationary engines at auction. Live steam can come in many forms from large scale garden railway locomotives, steam-powered traction engines, model steamboats and even steam-powered cars. The engines come in both pre-built kit and loose kit form and can take hundreds of hours to complete. Some of the most collectable engines are scratch built by the individual, meaning all parts and pieces are handmade; metal parts sculpted on a lathe, sometimes by the builders own scale measurements or from drawings. Early Victorian steam engines are to be looked out for, even small ones can fetch into the thousands of pounds. It's important to have a good history or provenance when selling live steam at auction as buyers like to know who might have made the model, when it was last run, and if they come with boiler certificates. All these factors have an effect on the price at auction.  Makers names to look out for in the live steam world are; Stuart Turner, Mamod, Wilesco, Marklin, Bowman, Bing, and Maxitrak. 

A horizontal stationary engine


The Abbott Collection of Scale Model Railway Locomotives - August 2020

The Abbott Collection of Scale Model Railway Locomotives

Past Collection Highlight






Related pages

Stay up to date with our model railway auctions

Gildings holds Toys, Model Trains, and Memorabilia auctions throughout the year at our auction room located in Market Harborough, as well as online. To keep informed of upcoming model railway auctions, simply sign up to our dedicated newsletter on this page or sign up to receive lot alerts.

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