I want to "Amen" your comments. I have helped several widows in recent years to sell their husband's collections.
Most of us probably over value our collections. For instance, there is a collection near Houston where the owner had a double deck layout in roughly a 50x100 building. There were several thousand quality cars and several hundred locomotives, steam and diesel. Structures included a 12' steel mill complex and dozens of Fine Scale Miniatures buildings, brass bridges, ports with ore boats, tugs, barges, etc. The wife of the owner was expecting top dollar for this collection, but that is not realistic.
The market here in the Houston area is saturated from other such estates. We advertised several weekend sales to modelers across Texas and with 6 full days of sales, only sold about half of the collection for about one quarter of what it cost. I purchased Genesis F units for $35, built resin cars for $35, brass cars for $35, Intermountain, Red Caboose, Kadee cars for $5-10. We don't know what to do with the rest. Numerous volunteers had put in hundreds of hours helping so far. The idea of selling all of this on Ebay would require full time work for a year - no exaggeration.
I have a feeling that in 15 years, there will not be a market for my collection. Young modelers are not modeling the transition era. My children are not interested.
Sell your excess now while you know its value and how to sell it. Do not consider your layout or collection an investment. If the collection brings you joy, wonderful! But don't count on it to finance your nursing home stay or your grandchildren's education. Use it, enjoy it, and be willing for it to go into the dumpster when you are gone.
J. Stephen Sandifer
Having spent much of this year helping liquidate a friend’s 50+ year collection of HO and O scale trains, railroad related books, and ephemera has caused me to reflect on my own modeling legacy. My friend had HO equipment from the 50’s through 2016 including an extensive brass collection. His O scale was mostly newer over the past 15-20 years. It was a much larger collection than his family realized. (I feel that may be the case with many of us, except Clark Propst, it seems he sells things as soon as he’s determined he doesn’t need them J. I know because I have purchased several models from him.) He also set up a trust and wrote specific instructions into his will delegating a few of his friends as well…essentially liquidation agents. Therefore, with knowledgeable folks involved we were able to successfully liquidate his collection and the family is very happy with the final number. My part was the non-brass HO locomotives, freight and passenger cars, structures etc. It was a sad task due to the circumstances, and I know others on this list have done similar tasks.
The point of this email is to remind folks to have explicit instructions for their, oftentimes, long developed collections in a will or other appropriate legal document. Family may not realize the cost of the equipment we have (I’m speaking of HO mostly since it is what I know) collected over the years, and I’m sure we’d all want our models to go to good homes, and generate income for our families.
I did pick a few pieces of his collection and I’ll remember my friend when I run the Key Juniata Built I1sa decapod on ore trains out of Erie when I finally build my layout.
May everyone have a healthy and joyful 2017.
Brian J. Carlson, P.E.