Marx incorporated in 1919. In the early 1920's, Marx had begun production of a large array of tin and wooden toys for girls and boys. Some train related toys like Floor trains, Trolleys and Handcars, as well as Tabletop trains, and Ride-on trains would also see their beginning. Therefore the first Marx logotype train would most logically have been a steamer style floor train.
The first train sets that Marx became involved with, were the Joy Line or aka Joyline series, each car being about 4 inches long. Produced from 1927-35, they were made at the Girard Model Works, but marketed by the Marx Brothers: Louis and David. These are considered as the beginning of Marx Trains and sold in the 1933 Sears Wish book under the Marx brand.
Also around the same time a plant in Dudley, England would be set up to produce a British version of Marx trains, with beginnings from the Joy Line design.
1934 The Classic Design Begins
Introduced at the beginning of the Streamliner Age in 1934, the Marx Toy Company would now focus it's attention on contemporary trains. The tin lithographed Union Pacific M10000 series would be the first, but more streamliners were on the way.
1935 would see the beginning of production of their seemingly endless run of the American Classic "6 Inch Tin" toy trains. Detail would be handled by ink lithographing on tin. Early models used two color lithography on the body as well as on the base. They were built to run on 0 gauge track. Marx would invent their own "toy scale" for the early train cars, they would have a height similar to 0 and S scale, but only about half the length. This new rounded and streamlined "Six Inch" design is one that would prove to be a favorite for all times, withstanding four decades of production.
The first steam loco used to power the new 6 inch tin, was the Streamlined New York Central, Commodore Vanderbilt, equipped with the early swing pin (ESP) coupling system. Cars used the same earlier styled Joy Line loop couplers, and two color lithography. Engines were made in a mechanical style at first and were soon followed by an electrical style. A clockwork set sold for as little as 98 cents!
Swing pin with Joy Line coupler
One of the earliest Christmas Wish Books, a 1935 Wards shows a sparkling CV six piece freight set, bridge, station, 21 workers, 2 signals and track for only $1.79. Affordable? YES !
Engines, couplers, frames, and litho changed, but since Marx was the last US train manufacturer to change completely over to plastic (1972); this 6 inch tin series continued all the way into the 1970's and are probably the most widely recognized of Marx trains.
Most common of Marx couplers are tongue and slot (TSC), which Marx started using about 1936, as well as new one color bases. Some couplers were riveted to the car bases for electrics and some sliding in the bases used for windups. But Marx also came up their own early version of automatic type couplers (EAC) on its six inch eight wheeled cars around 1937. The Marx six inch base design would also see its final engineering change.
Four Wheeled Six Inch Tin Series- Black Round Bases
1934 A New Streamlined Design for the Times
The popular Articulated Streamliner passenger, Union Pacific M10000 series came out in 1934, and proved a success. At less than $2 for a large mechanical train it well outsold other manufacturers. Marx even included a commemorative coin in some boxed sets.
Also as well, the M10005 Streamline unit emerged in 1936. Passenger sets with a variety of named lithographed cars could make one large set. The ever expanding line would make 1937 another successful year for the m10005 streamline train.
M10,000 Union Pacific
M10,005 City of Denver
1935 Marx introduces a toy train based on an Easter theme. Click below to view this train.
Early Marx-Joyline Type Trains and Easter Trains
1936 The famous Marx Canadian Pacific power unit made its appearance around this time. Debuting in Canada in 1936 to go along with the first run of the Canadian Pacific’s newly designed passenger trains.
This semi-streamlined style engine was quite popular and widely used through 1952 by the Marx Toy Company. Production of this type set approached half a million units! The CP passenger cars are quite popular with collectors!
1937-38 saw the beginning of the Articulated NYC Mercury Streamliner passenger trains and Mercury freight trains. An interesting coupling system, whistling engine, and lighted cars made these sets popular!
And don't forget the Bedazzling Blue Mercury six inch passenger train, with blue cars and blue tender. It's quite a beauty!
1939 The olive drab Commodore Vanderbilt army engine makes an entrance.
1940 Marx introduces a battery operated Commodore Vanderbilt, for those rural customers without electrical power. This train could run on flashlight batteries, car batteries, or dry cell. An electric train that sold for $4.45, what a bargain!
The Mercury Copper Queen passenger set also makes its appearance.
1941 The tin SCALE series begins:
999 Loco with Scale Cars
1941 would have a new design, the scale series. They would be new larger metal freight cars, about 8 inches long and have eight 3/16 style wheels, but would still run on O track. This line was scaled in proportion to a more actual train size. The first diecast engine, the 999, would appear at this time. But soon after, due to WWII, all toy and train production would have to stop for a time.
1942 June, toy and train production stops until WW2 ends in 1945. The Marx factories produce items that support the war effort.
1943 Marx pieces together 1000 sets for Christmas, from former production runs. They are the only manufacturer to offer an new electric train that year. They sold out immediately!
I have heard that Marx was producing various size shells and hand grenade parts during the war and after the war, in the Marx recycling tradition, the left over parts were used to create a Marx toy cannon!
Recently I picked up my Marx 810 Large Radius 0-34 Manual Switch Set Right and Left pair O SCALE NEW at garage sale.
Recently my daughter picked up my 24 pc lot Antique Train Cars Marx Lionel Tracks O on eBay.
Corrie Ickes wrote:
Just yesterday my son found my MARX 1666 New York Central Steam Engine Train Set at a yard sale.
Evelyn Trevizo wrote:
Today I found my O MARX 999 DIECAST 2-4-2 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE on Amazon.
Latricia Starner wrote:
Got my Marx Diesel-Electric Train Set in Box Untested - Engine, Box, Gondola, Caboose hours ago and am really happy that I got it.
Just last week my wife found my Marx electric train ,transformer, 4 cars, locomotive, track, Freight Terminal at a yard sale.
Got my O Gauge: Marx M10005 Union Pacific Steamlined Set, 1936- 40 months ago and am really happy the quality.
Today I bought my MARX O SCALE- ALL METAL VANDERBUILT LOCOMOTIVE,RUNS NO BOX on Amazon.
Got my vintage Marx toy train Signal Man grade crossing hours ago and am totally pleased with the price.
Got my Vintage Marx # 999 Die Cast Diecast Electric Steam Engine locomotive Running some time ago and am totally pleased how much it cost.
Got my Custom Marx Smoking Geronimo Commodore Chief, Black CV w Tender some time ago and am really happy with the price.
Got my Antique Vintage Marx Mar Lines Train Set Steam Type Locomotive New York Central some time ago and am really happy that I got it.
Zofia Vickery wrote:
Recently I picked up my Vintage Marx Steam Engine 666 with tender and 3 cars at a yard sale.
Davida Morrow wrote:
Last week my wife picked up my marx o scale pre war army supply toy train set spotlight car on 8 wheel base old at a yard sale.
Last week my kids bought my Marx Diesel Train set in box- Very nice on eBay.
Brian Hundley wrote:
Today my son-in-law found my O MARX OAK PARK TIN LITHO PASSENGER STATION - GOOD CONDITION - WHISTLE REPAIR at a yard sale.
Ermelinda Leadbetter wrote:
Recently my son found my RARE Marx Commodore Vanderbilt Tinplate Litho Set – O Scale at a yard sale.
Today my wife found my Lot of 15 Marx's Tracks on plastic base at garage sale.
Danyelle Gowan wrote:
Today my son bought my LOUIS MARX AND COMPANY TRAIN SET WITH TRANSFORMER on eBay.
Got my MARX #52362 STEAM LOCOMOTIVE TRAIN SET, FIGURE 8 TRACK & TRANSFORMER - NICE months ago and am totally pleased with it.
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