brward wrote:I would like to see these go to a good home, but at the same time get a fair price for them. I thought of ebay, but again, I don't know what price to ask or what to accept.
Brian, The key here is to educate yourself as to the value of the items in question.
First of all, You say that they are mint and still in the original boxes-that's a very good start. Have they ever been test run? Painted for a specific trolley line? Sat on a shelf and collected dust? Condition is of the utmost importance.
Go to the "Toys & Hobbies" section of eBay. Under "Trains" (or maybe its "Model Trains") select HO scale and type in key words like "trolley" or "interurban". Hopefully you'll find some similiar items that you can watch and see what they're selling for. That should give you a guide as to what to ask for.
Another alternative would be to pick up a copy of Model Railroader or Railroad Model Craftsman. There are always places that advertise that they will buy brass collections. (You may also get an idea of asking prices there.) If you are knowledgeable of the asking price(s) you shouldn't get "taken" by an unscrupulous dealer.
Take an accurate inventory of the items and put it on a spreadsheet. Some digital photos would help. Then you can either fax or email your lists if you decide to go the dealer route.
Should you decide to go the eBay route:
A. Test run each item before listing it. Nothing causes buyers on eBay to question the legitimacy of a seller than to read something like "I got this at an estate sale and have no way to test it".
B. Take good digital pictures and be as honest as you can with your description. You do have the option to set a minimum bid or to set a reserve price that you will not sell any lower than.
C. Don't let on that you know little about the item. Answer any buyers inquiries as soon as possible.
As someone who has bought and sold on eBay for over 5 years now, with over 300 positive and no negative feedbacks to date (knock on wood) I have had some items go for much less than I expected and others that prompted furious bidding for what I wouldn't have given $5 for.
I sold off my father's collection of HO scale items when he decided to go to O scale due to his failing eyesight. He'd initially thought about selling his collection at train shows but I cautioned him that at train shows people are always trying to dicker for a lower, cheaper price. He was very pleased with the income from the sale of his HO scale items.
(One other eBay hint-If you have a lot of items to sell, and you're listing these items yourself, only list four or five items per day. Handling the emails both before and after an auction ends, wrapping and shipping items are all time consuming and you'll rapidly tire of it if working alone.)
If this is a substantial (large) collection, there are folks who specialize in hobby auctions and will work for a commission. You can also find them listed in the hobby magazines previously mentioned.
My condolences on the loss of your father and best of luck in disposing of the collection, whatever route you choose to take.
I'm hoping that someone else will chime in here with some other suggestions. Would you be offended if I moved this thread to the Scale Model Railroading forum where it would probably be viewed by more forum members?