32¢ Electric Toy Trains
Celebrate the Century – 1920s
Issue Date: May 28, 1998
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
In the 1920s, American children were introduced to a new type of plaything, the electric toy train. Often incorporated into realistic scenes of towns and rail stations, these miniature scale models of real trail locomotives, cars and tracks provided both children and adults with many hours of entertainment. Toy trains are one of the few types of toys that have remained popular for more than seven decades.
There are three common scales of electric toy trains. In relation to the real train, they are HO or 1/87 scale, N or 1/160 scale, and O or 1/48 scale. Enthusiasts create landscape elements, model buildings, and figures in the same scale to give their model railroads the correct proportions. Many model railroaders belong to clubs where they can work together to create larger railroad layouts on which two or more trains may run.
Model railroading gained further recognition when the hobby was on display at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago in 1933 and 1934. The public interest led manufacturers to create a greater variety of model railroading kits. By 1935, hobbyists had formed the National Model Railroad Association to establish uniform standards for tracks, wheels, and other electric toy train equipment.