Thursday, January 4, 2018

Vintage Model Train Collecting for Millennials |


Before video games came to our homes in the late 1970s kids played with toys like Erector Sets, Tinker Toys and model trains. In the 1950/60s both father and sons bought, built and collected together but as the 1960s faded so did the togetherness of collecting and playing with model trains. Happily today model train collecting is alive and well thinks to the baby boomer generation. I personally had two train sets, my first was a Marx O-Scale and my second was an American Flyer H/O scale. 

Model trains have been around since the early 20th century. North American manufacturers such as Lionel and A C Gilbert built some of the most realistic models with complete realistic functionalities such as smoke and whistles. There were hundreds of world-wide manufacturers in the heyday of model trains but Lionel and American Flyer are two of the most widely collected.

Lionel purchased the American Flyer brand from A C Gilbert in 1967 and Lionel went under within 2 years after the purchase. It sold all its assets to General Mills, yes a cereal company and in 1984 General Mills sold the trains to Kenner a toy company from Cincinnati, Ohio. Kenner basically did nothing with it and sold it to a train collector from Detroit whio then put a consortium of investors together in the early 1990s to create Lionel, LLC who continues today to sell model trains. Be sure to research the model railroad manufacturers of the world.

What to collect -- trains come in what is called gauges with the more popular ones being N-scale, H/O-scale, S-Scale and O-Scale. There are more sizes but for discussion we will talk about these scales.

For people who have limited space N-scale would be your choice as they are 1:160 scale and would require the least amount of room in your home.

Next would be H/O-scale which is bigger at 1:87 scale and is still manageable for even an apartment.

Finally the big boy trains of S and O-Scale at 1:64 and 1:48 these can still be put on a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood that could be slide under a bed.

There is a G-scale at 1:22.5 that gives you an even bigger version and would require more space to set up a meaningful configuration.

Now to choose between new and old. Makers today have created some very nice products with state of the art digital controls. I guess it's up to you on whether or not to buy new or collect vintage pieces and learn about when they were made. These vintage pieces will likely continue to go up in value as years pass.

How to accessorize -- just setting a track up and watching your train roll around it is not what collecting is about. Adding landscape, buildings, signal crossing and even vehicles all scaled to your trains sizes make the most of model train collecting. You can go from the basics to elaborate as seen in the pictures below.

N Scale Model Train Track Plans | HO Train Section Layouts
5 of the World̢۪s Greatest Model Railways - Model Railway ...
H/O -Scale
No matter what you decide remember collecting is fun and can become addictive.

Be sure to check out some of our model train estate sales finds at

Until next time, Indy

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Collecting Bakelite and Lucite Jewelry | Indypicker

Vintage Bakelite and Lucite Jewelry

What is Bakelite? Bakelite was created by Belgium Scientist Leo Baekeland in 1907 when trying to develop an alternative for shellac which was used to cover woodwork. The result was not what he had expect, but did give the world a new material to create everything from ladies jewelry to telephone cases and electrical insulators.

The evolution of non-precious material jewelry a.k.a costume jewelry started with Celluloid back in the mid 1800's. Celluloid is highly collectible but has a drawback in that one it's flammable and second it can get diseased. Yes your Celluloid piece can start to deteriorate and can give the infliction to other pieces of jewelry in your collection.

With the invention of Bakelite also known as Catalin as an industrial material was heat resistant and could be made in a multitude of colors, more on that later. This lent itself to making of costume jewelry from bracelets or bangles to brooches, pins and necklaces.

How do we identify Bakelite? The easiest test that we use when out picking for Bakelite is the wet Q-tip test. Yes, no fancy tests need for the road warrior, the wife carries water wetted Q-tips in a plastic bag in her purse. Just rub the Q-tip on the item to be tested and no matter what color it is a Nicotine colored stain will appear on your Q-tip. 

The Bakelite collector market has created wild color definitions to describe Bakelite pieces. Cherry Cream Soda, Apricot, Butterscotch, Mustard, Creamed Spinach, Paprika, Apple Juice, Iced Tea and such. 

Next, there are single colored pieces and then there are multi-colored pieces that can be know as marbled, swirled and even Mississippi mud. These colors if more than two are also called "end of day" and that bumps up the interest in collectors. These pieces were created by the worker mixing what ever he or she had left from the days orders and dumped them together making a beautiful mixture of colors in the piece.

End of Day

Bangles came in different shapes which are described by how the looked being domed, squared or even flying saucer shaped.
bakelite octagonal bangle
Marbled Butterscotch
different types of bakelite jewelry
Different Colors and Types

Bangles can be carved or have objects attached to them like rhinestones or metal ornaments.

What are collectors looking for? Colors "end of day", transparent or translucent pieces, deeply carved and size.

During the 1940s the DuPont Corporation created a plastic like material which was called Lucite. Again the jewelry makers started to move the focus away from Bakelite and towards Lucite. Today Lucite International created from ICI and Dupont continue to make items from even more advanced materials. 

How do we identify Lucite from Bakelite? Lucite will leave no stain on our Q-tip test and the piece will be much lighter in weight than Bakelite. If your hit two pieces of Lucite together you will get a distinctive "click" sound and not a "clunk" sound when doing the same test with two pieces of Bakelite.

Lucite was in it's hey day from the 1950's through 1960's when other forms of plastic took over the manufacturing lines.
Apple Juice Lucite with Spacers
Lime & Orange Lucite with Spacer

To see our current inventory of Bakelite and Lucite go to

Until next, Indypicker

Monday, October 23, 2017

Costume Jewelry Collection | Indypicker

Costume Jewelry Collection
We have just re-opened our Etsy Shop and posted for sale some nice costume jewelry from early 1900's to late 1960's. These include Bakelite, Lucite and Paste Stone pieces signed by jewelry designer Albert Weiss.

Costume jewelry has been around for centuries. In the United States there are specific periods that can be collected.

Art Deco 1920-30's - geometric and symmetrical lines

art deco jewelry

Retro Period 1930-50's - glamour, sophistication, Bakelite & Lucite ~ Hollywood influenced

bakelite jewelry

Art Modern Period 1940-60's - Bold and lavish, large chunky pieces
kenneth lane jelly belly jewelry

Collecting these can add everything from glamour to funky to your jewelry arsenal. These can be found at estate sales, garage sales and online shops such as ours Vintageitemexchange

Until next time, Indy

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Collecting Vintage Radios from the 1940's to 1960s | Indypicker

Collecting Vintage Radios

Before television there was radio. Radios have been around with us since the early 1900's. Today radio collectors seek out the relics of the past whether tube or transistor. Powell Crosley brought radios into the affordable market. Before he decide to design and mass-produce radios were only affordable for the well to do families of the time. He also started WLW radio station, owned the Cincinnati Reds having Crosley field named after him and produced the first night baseball game.

The early radios based on vacuum tube technology started in wood cases and then moved to Bakelite. Radios come in 3 types console, table top and pocket. The pocket radios I used as a kid to listen to World Series games during school days. Yes, they were played during the daytime once upon a time. And yes, teachers let us get away with it as long as we didn't bother other students.

Here are some examples of the some radios that we found in the hills of Tennessee. Check them out at

Until next time, Indy

Motorola Portable Tube Type from the late 1940s.

Emerson Vanguard 888 Space Age Design Large Pocket Radio

Alco AC-DC Transistor Space Age Design Made in Japan

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Adding Slot Cars and Vintage Kitchenware | Indypicker

Vintage Kitchenware and Slot Cars 

Indypicker has been selling vintage items online since 2008. We just added new some new genre products to While selling awesome vintage jewelry, watches, coins, toys, books and more we are going to be adding some new items such as vintage kitchen appliances and slot cars.

These toasters and waffle irons have become quit collectible. Our restoration shop will them spruce up and make sure they are in safe order.

As a kid of the 60's it was the prime of slot car racing. I can remember getting a slot car track for Christmas. It was a 1/32 scale set with a yellow and white indycar style cars. One of my classmates brother had a 4 lane 1/24 scale track in their basement which was incredible.

We are currently procuring vintage bodies and will be using 3D printing technology to duplicate these bodies and develop chassis that are no longer with the body. Vintage track accessories are something we are looking at with 3D technology.

We will keep you posted on the progress, check our twitter and Facebook pages for more on this.

Until next time, Indy

Friday, March 3, 2017

Collecting Period Costume Jewelry | Millennial Series Part 1

Millennial Series Part 1. This is part 1 of a multi-part educational series geared toward the millennial generation on collecting vintage and antique items. There will be series for both men and women. Part 2 will be collecting vintage toys. Comments, questions, feed-back is welcome.

To see some vintage jewelry check our new site at VintageMARK

Collecting Period Costume Jewelry 

Collecting period costume jewelry can be exciting and fun. So what is costume jewelry? Costume jewelry is usually but not always made from non-precious metals and non-gemstones. Many pieces are pot metal and paste gems, but not always.

What is meant by period? You have the term antique jewelry which covers any piece that is over 100 years old. But we have periods that are defined and those pieces can usually be defined by the look of the period.

Victorian Period [named after Queen Victoria] - 1837 to 1901 

Edwardian Period [named after King Edward] - roughly 1901 to end of World War I

Art Nouveau Period -1890 to 1910 was defined as a style that defined architecture, art to furniture and jewelry. Art Nouveau period costume jewelry usually involved earth object shapes such as insects, goddess images and flowery flowing images. Many curved designs.

Art Deco Period - 1920 to 1940 replaced the trend of Art Nouveau with designs being symmetrical changing from the nature designs of Nouvea.

Celluloid, Bakelite & Lucite the plastics come of age from early 1900's through the 1960's. Celluloid is easily recognized as you will see in the example. Bakelite must be tested to assure its Bakelite. Lucite replaced Bakelite around the 1950s. Quality Bakelite is getting harder to find and be aware of Chinese Fakelite selling on eBay.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Vintage Item Collecting for Millennials - Intro | Indypicker

Intro to Vintage Item Collecting for Millennials

Welcome millennials to the first of a multi-part educational series on collecting vintage items. 

A little about Indypicker ~ we are a husband and wife team [high school sweethearts] that after first being married started going together to antique stores/flea markets in the 1970s for entertainment on the weekends while being stationed in the Air Force in Merced, California. We continued this throughout the years and then in 2008 started an online business based on our passion for items of the past and have sold thousand of items since then.

Why do we collect? collecting is a hobby of seeking, locating, purchasing and cataloging like items to display for enjoyment by yourself and by your friends. Some collect as an investment such as coins, watches and such but, mainly we collect for the enjoyment. Whether you are single or a couple it is something you can do to ENJOY! 

First, collecting doesn't mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars as the popular TV shows like Pawn Stars and American Picker portray. You can start a collection for items under $10.

Now what do I collect? for me it's vintage radios [tube and transistor], Indy500 memorabilia [of course I was born in Indianapolis] and Indy 500 diecast cars. For you it can be either something of your childhood or your parents and grandparents lifetimes. The term "Vintage" is defined by sellers meaning something that is at least 20-25 years old. So does that make you millennials vintage? LOL ya, the old guy made a joke.

Next, the term "Retro" usually means something that is new but is in the design of something from the past. We will discuss in future posts of how to determine whether or not the item you are currently starring at is really a period piece of a newer Made in China "Retro" piece.

We will also give you ideas of where to find your treasured items you seek and how to put together a weekend of fun in the car hunting these items at local shops, flea markets and swap meets or where to find them on the web.

Here is my prize 1937 Zenith Art Deco style radio that we found in an antique mall in Springfield Ohio. It is in working order as well. Below are just some reference items that are put together by genre.

Vintage Bakelite 1920-40's
Vintage Mid-Century Toys

We will break the series into periods such as the Victorian, Art Deco, Mid-century and Current Vintage [20-years old] and niche items for guys and gals such as jewelry, mid-century home decor, coins, watches, comic books, vintage toys, star wars and more. 

While these are just a few of the items we will discuss we will be asking for your help in what you would like to see [enter a comment]. If you have a question on something you already own again comment or send us an email at Remember this blog series is for you.  

Don't forget to jump over to to see our current vintage items we have for sale. These are always changing so join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @indypicker.

Until next time, Indy