Collector Stories

Collector Stories is designed to be a page where we can share interesting events and happenings that have taken place in our relentless pursuit of Plasticville. Any little anecdote or long story is welcome. To submit your story please email the PCA Webmaster.

Baby's First Plasticville!

— by Armand Taddeo

My story begins in 1956 at the ripe old age of 2. While I cannot say I actually remember this, I must start at the beginning. I lived with my parents in a 5 story building in the Bronx. My grandfather was employed at that time with the New York Central RR and he decided a train set would be a wonderful Christmas present for his first born grandson. I remember that set quite well as It stayed with us for the next 23 years until the day it was adopted by a (I assume) collector at my parent's garage sale. Lucky guy but who knew back then? Guess he did, uh? Sorry, I digress — The set? A 2263W Lionel O gauge set which featured the debut of the engine 'with 2 faces'! That was my earliest impression of Lionel's brand new 2350 EP5. Still one of my favorites and according to my grandfather, he was one of the first in the Bronx to purchase one! My dad put that set up every Christmas over the next 10-12 years but it was the 3rd year, 1958, that my own recollections start to kick in and the first thing that comes to mind are the Plasticville kits I received that year. That lonely oval, barren layout now had some company. Specifically a C-18 Church, (As strict Italian Catholics, we HAD TO HAVE A CHURCH!) an HP-9 red roof Cape Cod, an FH-4 Firehouse (who didn't have one of these back then?!) a 1617 Farm Buildings/Animals kit, and last but not least, a Bridge and Pond. Now we were able to have some real fun with the trains as it was starting to get old fast watching those cars going around in circles on that barren green felt covered piece of wood! This became a Christmas staple for the next decade and soon I had the set up year round in the attic of our New Jersey home until that day the folks decided to sell the house and the trains and Plasticville wound up in the garage sale mix. After all, my interest at that point lay more with cars and girls (not necessarily in that order, mind you) then toy trains and P-Ville! Sound familiar?

Fast forward to the mid-eighties.

My interest in trains was rekindled when we received an LGB Circus set for my newborn son. It didn't take long for the memories to come rushing back and soon after, PW Lionel became an obsession for me. In my quest for trains,I would always pass a table or two with P-Ville for sale at shows but I didn't pay much attention to the little plastic structures until I acquired some nice items as a 'throw in' when I purchased an employee's train set. I soon became hooked on Bachmann's 'lil treasures. Ahhh-full circle! (When I first started collecting PW Lionel, the first items I sought out were the 2350 and the 6 cars that accompanied it in my childhood set. Guess which P-Ville items I picked up first????

Yeah baby, those memories!

Thanks to Armand Taddeo for this story. You never know where you will find your next treasure! A few years back-one of my techs informed me that his dad wanted to 'get rid' of his old trains when he sold his house. Sensing opportunity, I went over that same day to take a look at what I had hoped to be a treasure trove of PostWar Lionel. (I was informed that these trains were acquired between '49-'64. He had about 35 pieces of rolling stock along with a couple of common steamers. Even worse — most were damaged or full of mildew from sitting idle on the layout in the basement for decades I took what I needed (mainly for parts). As I was leaving-he said he had some scenery and 'structures' packed away. While I had P-Ville as a kid, I had zero interest as well as zero knowledge of the 5 boxes he handed me. These items were unused and MINT. He purchased them in the early 60's when he had a renewed, but brief, interest in his trains. Never used — they were a common boxed post office, a common boxed fire house, and 4 VERY collectable items. A marbled hobo shack kit — a DARK GREY HUC kit, a MINT Corner Store and an unused 1800 series SEALED Roadside stand. A nice head start to the P-Ville passion I developed a couple years later! To think — I almost refused these!


This is going to be a great Christmas!

— by Bob Shank

I've been into Lionel trains for many years and this year my uncle sent me all of his Plasticville kits! He had a display back in the 50's when he was a teenager and knew that I had a display now. So, he decided that his stored Plasticville should be out on a display. He sent them all the way from Arizona here to Pennsylvania. I received 4 boxes and opened them with the enthusiasm of a little kid on Christmas morning!

I am still in the process of inventorying all the items, but this collection is impressive. I am not very familiar with Plasticville (other than the new items I've purchased over recent years), but this stuff looks great and much of it is in good shape! I am about to begin building my Christmas display and will proudly be displaying these Plasticville classics! Thank you, Uncle Jim!

An Appreciative Nephew in PA


eBay Treasures

— by Fred Ruby

I saw three WHITE TR6 evergreen trees on eBay, with the dealer box. I was bidding every thirty seconds for the last 15 minutes of the auction against a very determined bidder, but luck just happened to give me the sweet victory kiss.

Almost as soon as the bidding was done I got an e-mail from the losing bidder and he asked if he could buy one of the trees. I agreed and we made arrangements with the seller.

A few months later, at Cal-Stewart in Pasadena, I was showing this wonderful find to fellow collector that has helped my collection along considerably. Shirley was awe-struck, and her collection is rumored to be amongst the very best and most complete. She asked if she could buy one of the two trees and I had no way to refuse her.

But I do have the dealer box and one of the trees. I cleaned the tree off with a very mild detergent and lots of water, no rubbing or scrubbing and shot against a black canvas backdrop.

The box is not perfect, but I would rate it at 8 out of 10. There is some childish pencil, "XMAS TREES" on the printed end and a few creases, but all the flaps are there.

eBay Followup

— by Joe Kutza

I have had numerous transactions on eBay over the years with lots of interesting people and items. However, one item stands out as it made me realize how hooked I was on eBay and plastic. I had been watching an item all week: a factory sealed CASE of Littletown #315 spruce trees (containing 12 boxes). Box states BANNER PLASTICS CORP. Paterson, NJ. This would be a great addition to my rather small collection of Littletown. Luckily the price remained reasonable. The only catch was that the auction ended at about 3:00 am! If you have bid on eBay, you know that the serious bidders wait for the last minute to put in their bids. So I set my alarm clock for 2:45 am. There was furious bidding at the end of the auction but I managed to win the item.


Henry Backhmann's Great-Great Granddaughter!

— by Suzanne King

Dear Joe,

I just wanted to compliment you on your marvelous Plasticville website. I'm considering beginning to collect Plasticville and it's been so helpful! I am Henry Bachmann's great-great-granddaughter. Although I have a self portrait of him and our family has a number of his ivory and tortoise shell carvings, personally, I have no Plasticville! My brother had some with his old Lionel set, but in need of money at age 15 or so, many years ago, he sold the entire train set (arg!) to the kid down the street for $10.

It's been a pleasure combing through the website. Keep up the good work!

Suzanne King