Model rail enthusiasts across the globe will be familiar with Hornby Trains. The company has been manufacturing model trains for over 120 years, having been founded in 1901, and produces some of the most desirable locomotives on the market.
Hornby manufacture a range of extremely popular model trains that cater for a wide range of age groups, experience levels and interests. So, there's certainly an abundance of choice for model train collectors to consider.
With such an extensive catalogue of model trains having been produced over many years, some old Hornby trains are potentially worth significant sums of money. But how do we determine how much they're worth and what are the factors that influence this?
In this article, we'll take a look and see if old Hornby trains are valuable and whether they're worth anything significant.
Are old Hornby trains valuable?
Old Hornby trains can certainly be very valuable and may be worth significant sums depending on their condition, year of manufacture and how desirable they are to collectors. Trains that are in mint condition with the original packaging included are worth significantly more than the average model train.
The biggest factors that affect the desirability of old Hornby trains are the state of the locomotive itself and whether the original packaging, box and manuals are included. The condition of any packaging plays a key role in helping to preserve value in an old Hornby train.
If you have an old limited edition Hornby train set then that's likely to be worth substantially more than a standard train set due to being more desirable among collectors.
The following are some of the main factors that contribute to the value of an old Hornby model train:
- Overall condition of the model
- Age of the model train - when was it manufactured?
- Whether the train has a good history of maintenance
- Whether the original box and packaging are included and in a good condition
- The inclusion of any supporting documentation, such as proof of purchase or original paperwork
- Whether the product is a special edition or from a limited run
- Historical provenance - does the train have any interesting history or story behind it?
These are the main areas that directly affect the value of an old Hornby train and what it could potentially be worth on the secondhand market.
Let's take a look at some examples.
A relatively modern model train, say 10 - 15 years old, in average condition will probably not be worth any more than $100 - $200.
However, a limited edition run of a rare Hornby model train that's in an excellent condition with the original box and packaging included is going to fetch significantly more - sometimes up to $4000 if it's super desirable.
What is the rarest Hornby train?
One of the rarest and most sought-after Hornby trains is the Princess Elizabeth Boxed Set which was sold from 1937 - 1941.
This is was a highly impressive and detailed O gauge locomotive and represented Hornby's first attempt to scale modelling. As a result, it's highly desired by model train enthusiasts and collectors.
It's based on the real world LMS Princess Royal Class locomotive, number 6201 Princess Elizabeth. The locomotive has been preserved following withdrawal from BR and actually hauled the Royal Train in 2012.
Depending on the condition, the Hornby model of Princess Elizabeth can be expected to fetch between $3000 - $5000 at auction.
How to value an old Hornby model train
If you're looking to get an old Hornby model train valued then you have a couple of options.
The quickest and easiest method is to look at secondhand auction websites, such as eBay, to see what similar items have been sold for.
Enter the applicable details for your Hornby train including the specific model number, variant, condition and year of manufacture. It's important to search for the exact model to ensure you get accurate results.
Simply take a look at the prices of the items that come up in order to get an approximate idea of what your old Hornby train could be worth.
The second method is to get an appraisal carried out by a specialist model train retailer or valuer. There'll be more experienced with valuing such items and will likely have access to more information and knowledge of current market conditions. This method is more suitable for high value rarer trains rather than the more common products that are readily available.
The most important factor that influences the value of an old Hornby train is the general condition that it's in. Model trains that have been carefully looked after and are in mint condition are going to be worth significantly more than those in an average state.
There are also a number of other factors that influence how much an old Hornby train set is worth. These include whether the original box and packaging are included, whether supporting documentation is available, the age of the model train and whether it's part of a limited run or special edition line. If the train has historical provenance associated with it then this is going to increase the value too.
The two most common methods for valuing an old Hornby model train are searching secondhand marketplaces (e.g. eBay) for similar items and checking the prices they've sold for, or using a specialist model train appraiser to get a more accurate valuation.
To get an idea of the current market for model trains, we've produced a comprehensive comparison of the most popular models. Check out our guide to the best train sets for additional information on the most suitable train sets for today.