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Model train collection sells for nearly $40K

NORTH LIMA — The auction of a model train collection belonging to a well-known North Lima resident generated nearly $40,000, with bidders from several states railing for the mini-locomotives and accessories.

Paul Basinger, with Basinger Auction Services, said two open houses were held before the auction closed Tuesday. People of all ages attended to see the 29-by 24-foot display featuring pieces of post-war Lionel model trains. The O-scale collection 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.

The amount generated from the sale of 2,500 to 3,000 engines, car and other accessories surpassed pre-auction estimates — which pegged the value between $34,000 and $35,000.

More than 500 registered to bid, 117 walked away from the sale with something, including one person who nearly $5,000, Basinger said.

An LGB limited edition, 13-piece Wilson Brothers Circus sold for $1,200 — the highest selling item.

“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.

There were some newer and some older items in the extensive collection, Basinger said.

Despite the success of the auction, Basinger said the age of “the true train hobby collectors” is trending up.

“The younger generations do not seem to be interested in this. The older generations are 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,” Basinger said.

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