LCT License Expiration Spotlight: 4696 Steam Locomotive
May 15, 2019 - The Lionel Corporaton Tinplate license expired on May 1, 2019 and each week for the next month or so, we'll spotlight the last items that are still available from select M.T.H. Authorized Retailers. You can learn more about the end of the Lionel license by going HERE.
This week's feature will look at the 4696 steam locomotive in Great Northern and New York Central liveries. These items are completly sold out at M.T.H. Electric Trains and are only availble from the retailers listed HERE.
With not a touch of modesty, the 1931 American Flyer catalog introduced the firm's new steam engine: "The magnificent realistic wide gauge Steam type locomotive Model 4696 is a faithful reproduction of the "crack" B. & O. locomotive, President Washington. The faithful design is a striking example of scale reproduction. It is conceded by the most critical, to be the finest miniature model ever made." In fact this description had a lot of truth to it.
Of course Flyer, like Lionel with its 400E, ignored the fact that the prototype locomotive had one more set of drivers than the model. But Flyer's fully die-cast steamer with "innumerable brass details," "complete connecting rod and valve action" and a red light that "shines through the fire box gratings - just like on real locomotives" was arguably better proportioned and more accurately detailed than Lionel's 400E introduced the same year.
Flyer's new model, which collectors would later nickname the "Brass Piper," was the direct descendant of a groundbreaking Ives product. Just a few years earlier, the Lionel and American Flyer catalogs had not offered a single steam-type locomotive. At the 1928 Toy Fair, The Ives Manufacturing Corporation had introduced its startlingly realistic, die-cast No. 1134 steamer, based on the B&O's President Washington 4-6-2 Pacific.
But just months later, Ives had gone bankrupt and been sold at auction to Lionel and American Flyer. Flyer took advantage of the Ives tooling to add "3 New Massive Steam Type Trains" to its 1929 catalog - in the same year that Lionel introduced its sheet-metal-boiler 390E steamer with comically oversized drivers. Flyer's incarnation of the Ives model, numbered 4694, was a star of the catalog for two years, even gracing the cover of the 1930 edition. In hindsight, that cover appeared to preview the 4694's replacement, as it incorrectly depicted the engine with the additional details that would later appear on the Brass Piper.
In 1931, Flyer stepped up its game just in time to compete with Lionel's new 400E. Bumping the 4694 from the top of the line was the newly tooled 4696, touted as "America's Finest Steam Type Wide Gauge Locomotive." In many ways, the 4696 was a forerunner of what would become American Flyer's claim to fame after it was acquired by A.C. Gilbert a few years later: more realism and more prototypical proportions than competitive Lionel models. Cataloged from 1931 to 1935, the 4696 was introduced at a price of $43.50, the equivalent of several weeks pay for an average worker, and a princely sum in the depths of the Great Depression.
AVAILABLE THROUGH THESE SELECT RETAILERS
- JUST TRAINS
812 INTERCHANGE BLVD
NEWARK, DE 19711
- SIDETRACK HOBBIES
40845 MERCHANTS LN
P.O. BOX 1707
LEONARDTOWN, MD 20650
- Baked Enamel Finish
- Metal Wheels and Axles
- Constant Voltage Headlight
- Precision Flywheel Equipped Motor
- Metal Handrails and Decorative Whistle
- Colorful Paint Scheme
- Locomotive Speed Control In Scale MPH Increments
- Synchronized Puffing ProtoSmoke System
- Die-Cast Boiler and Tender Body
- Operating Metal Latch Couplers
- Proto-Sound 3.0 With The Digital Command System Featuring: Passenger Station Proto-Effects
- Unit Measures:26 1/4” x 5 1/4” x 4 1/4”
- Operates On STD-42 Curves