The Boucher (pronounced boo-shāy) Manufacturing Company, founded by H.E. Boucher, was
an American toy company based in New York that
specialized in toy boats and toy trains. Italian-born Horace E. Boucher (1874-1935) was a naval architect in the
late 1800's who headed the U.S. Navy’s model shop. In the early 1900's Boucher created ship models
that came to be prized by museums all over the country —
more than 40 are displayed in the Smithsonian Institute. He established the Boucher Model Shops in 1905.
His innovative idea of mass-producing cast fittings and selling
kits to the general public started a new industry and helped turn what had been the art of a few highly
skilled craftsmen into a hobby enjoyed by thousands.
Boucher Manufacturing is best remembered today as the last of the makers of Standard gauge/Wide gauge
trains until the much smaller McCoy Manufacturing
revived the Standard gauge in the mid-1960's. The Boucher Manufacturing Company only made model
ships previous to their 1923 purchase of Voltamp's line of trains.
Voltamp had been a direct competitor to Carlisle & Finch, the inventor of the
electric toy train. When Boucher bought the Voltamp line in 1923, they retained three of the five
basic steam-type locomotives and dropped all
Voltamp electric and trolley types. They also modified from 2" 2 rail to 2 1/8" 3 rail to be
compatible with Lionel's Standard Gauge line. In 1928, the
factory and showroom was located at 152 Lafayette Street, New York City.
Boucher production initially consisted of the 3 steam outline locomotives - #2100, #2222,
#2500, along with 8 different
freight cars and 3 passenger cars. The passenger cars were a combine, a Pullman, and an observation car.
These cars came painted in solid colors, but were available in either orange, green or red, with black roofs.
The freight cars were a stake bed flat car, stock car, box car, hopper car, gondola, a dump car, tank car
and caboose. The locomotives and the freight cars were built using wood for the steam chests and car frames.
Trucks were made of cast iron and were highly detailed. Passenger car bodies were made of metal. These trains
appeared far more prototypical and less toylike than the competition's Standard gauge offerings from that era.
Boucher marketed their trains as highly accurate 'scale' models, and occupied the high end of
the market. Their catalogs touted the products as 'mechanically perfect' 'Railroad Trains in
Miniature'. Boucher was
the only manufacturer ever to catalog a six-wheel drive standard gauge locomotive. The famous 4-6-2
Boucher Deluxe can be called one of the top desirable classic trains of all time, and are highly
sought after by collectors. This engine was the only Wide gauge steam outline locomotive to be equipped
with twin motors. At 31 inches in length, the Boucher #2500 Deluxe loco & tender was also the longest consist
of motive power to ride Standard Gauge rails during that era. A less expensive single motor version was also
Boucher sales literature stated that by assembling their train engines,
a youngster would gain the knowledge of how an engine actually worked. H. E. Boucher also claimed
to have used the highest quality materials available in the manufacturing process to assure that each
engine could be taken apart and put back together again as often as desired.
In 1930 Boucher produced a set of 4 new longer and updated metal passenger cars built on
stamped steel six wheel trucks. These cars were a combine, 2 pullmans, and an observation, painted in a
high gloss Jersey Central blue and cream livery.
The cars were offered in various sets, some sets came with three cars, some came with four cars. Some sets
were headed by a #2500 in
black paint. But one famous set was completed with a #2500 loco and tender also painted in blue, and is
called the Boucher Blue Comet set. This set is often referred to as the 'King of Toy Trains'. But
collectors insist that this set is anything but a toy, due to its high level of realistic styling, proportions,
metal work and scale model like detail.
In the 1930's the toy train market was dominated by the so-called "Big Four" of
Lionel, Ives, Dorfan, and
American Flyer. Like all of them, Boucher had struggled through the Great Depression, and
while the company outlived all but Lionel, by 1940 the 2 1/8-inch Standard gauge had become an orphan
standard that was
priced beyond the means of most consumers. Without a smaller, more affordable product to sell,
and with World War II limiting what it could produce, Boucher went out of the train manufacturing business