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Exploring Lionel trains of the 1950s: Illuminated Station Platform No. 157

Senior Editor Roger Carp reviews a post-war Lionel passenger platform
Classic Toy Trains Senior Editor Roger Carp held court in a Facebook Live event on April 16, 2019, and answered questions about Lionel Trains of the 1950s from anyone on Facebook that day. We've uploaded a short discussion Roger had about a Lionel "Illuminated Station Platform" that had been a treasured piece of a co-worker's operating layout years before.

Have more questions about Lionel Trains of the 1950s? Check out our latest special issue, now available! 

QUESTION: What can you tell us about this Lionel station platform?

Transcription courtesy of YouTube:

Answer: Okay, so what we have here is a No. 157 station platform and for those of you that will remember, it had a predecessor it had the 156 platform which was added to the Lionel catalog in 1940, continued through 1942 and then in 1942 the federal government prohibited the use of what it called strategic materials for the use of toys and some other consumer goods. w

Why? Because the United States had entered World War II and So Lionel was forced after 1942 to stop producing toy trains and accessories and it was already making precision instruments for various branches of the American military and it did not resume production until 1945.

And then in 1946 through 1950 it offered the 156 platform again, then it stopped and it eventually would substitute the 157 and the 157 is important because it is all plastic.

The previous platform was a combination of painted sheet metal with some compression molded plastic, but the 157 is all lighter injection molding plastics so it's an important step forward which we're seeing.

We have the box and frankly, I really love boxes. And I think a lot of times they add to our story.

For example a box may have at the end — although this one doesn't — a lot of times it will have at the end a sticker from the store that sold it so, in a sense, we can find out where an item came from originally.

What we can also learn is that many of the box manufacturers at that time would let us know when the box was manufactured, so if you look carefully at this one you will see a large "5-3" that means this box was manufactured in 1953.

And also the use of the dots, there are six of them.

So the sixth month is June, so that suggests that this box was manufactured in June of 1953 and then it was sent to Lionel and Lionel would have packaged its accessories at separate sale items that midway in that production year. Sets came first because sets had been ordered in quantity at the American Toy Fair earlier in the year.

So Lionel first put together its sets then it went to separate sale items like this one. So although the box is tattered, it's still a fun item to have and it adds to the quality of Steve's 157 platform. You can see at the end Lionel would print or the box manufacturer would print what it was.

It was an illuminated station platform and it was for Lionel trains and at this time Lionel had its showroom, its main showroom, in New York. Its factory was in New Jersey and it had another showroom in Chicago.

So that answers a couple of our questions.


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