While it only lasted just over a decade, the Dorfan Company in Newark, New Jersey made some of the most unique and collectible trains of the tinplate era. Cataloging its first products in O gauge (which, like American Flyer, it referred to as "Narrow Gauge") in 1924, Dorfan was founded by German immigrants Milton and Julius Forchheimer as an offshoot of Fandor, a popular train manufacturer owned by relatives back home. It is generally thought that Dorfan was established as a way for Fandor to get around negative sentiment and high import tariffs for German-made toys in the post World War I era. Dorfan entered the Wide Gauge market - in which Lionel had copyrighted the term "Standard Gauge" - in 1926.
Dorfan's claim to fame was its pioneering use of zinc die castings for locomotive construction, while most of its competitors were using sheet metal. The heavy Dorfan engines were great haulers and were built specifically to be taken apart and reassembled by their youthful owners, so they could learn more about electricity, which was still an exciting new technology in the 1920s. Unfortunately, impurities in Dorfan's zinc alloy caused the majority of its die-cast engines to crack and deteriorate with age.
More fortunate were the owners of Dorfan's Wide Gauge passenger cars, which were made largely of sheet steel. A unique feature of Dorfan's cars was the miniature passenger figures populating each illuminated car - a distinction reproduced in these Tinplate Traditions replicas of Dorfan's 15 1/2" cars. These cars make realistic companions for original or replica Dorfan locomotives, including our Tinplate Traditions replica of the die-cast 1134 steamer built for Dorfan by Ives about 1929.
Tinplate passenger trains - faithfully re-created from stamped metal components - and generally boasting bright, colorful enamel paint are not meant to be accurate reproductions of real trains. The attractive liveries found on the Dorfan passenger sets are an excellent example of how color and realism can be mixed together in the tinplate category. Regardless of the deco scheme, these cars match their original counterparts from the early 20th Century detail for detail, feature for feature.