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Bub Trains


Bub 1930's 0-4-0 clockwork trolley Boxed Bub Train Set from the 1930'sKarl Bub founded this company in 1851 in Nüremberg, Germany. American toy train collectors are familiar with the 'KBN' trademark, which stands for 'Karl Bub Nüremberg'. Bub made a superbly enameled and later lithographed line of clockwork tin transportation toys including trains. They started making trains that ran by clockwork in 1903. Track based trains came two years later in 1905. Then in 1914 an electric train was added to the product line. KBN never produced live steam locomotives. The very first trains consisted of 2-2-0 clockwork engines and open end passenger cars. The first models of both passenger and freight cars were of typical Nüremberg design. These early trains were made in gauge 1 and 'O' gauge. The factory was located at Gostendorfer Hauptstrasse 48. Karl Bub's daughter Emma married Albert Huck who eventually took over the management of KBN.

A partnership with Issmayer and Carette allowed all three companies to produce similar looking trains which often had only the logo that was different. Bub was one of the first companies to produce diecast accessories for model trains. Many Bub toys reached the American market via exclusive distributor F.A.O. Schwartz, New York City, during the 1920's-1930's.

Albert and Emma's son, Heinz started working in the family business at an early age and proved to be a talented toy designer in his own right. In the early 1920's, Bub cataloged electric outline locomotives, some of which had clock-work mechanisms, that were patterned after contemporary German and Swiss prototypes. From 1925 on, Bub tin plate train set and tunnel Bub introduced steam locomotives patterned after the standard German Reichsbahn prototypes. This included small 0-4-0's through 2-4-2's and Atlantics to big Pacifics in 'O' gauge.

In 1932, as a result of rising import custom taxes in Great Britain, a second factory was opened at Aylesbury with the name KB-Toy factory in order to retain the British market. Bub is known to have acquired the tooling for Bing toy trains when Bing went out of the model train business in 1932. Besides the dies, Bub used the toy sales organization of Bing, a fact which explains why many of the later products were sold with the combined trademarks of both companies.

Bub 'O' gauge electric loco and tender Bub had greater interest in the British market, than in the American market. Even before the factory in England was established, there were several train sets issued in liveries of British railway companies such as LNWR and GN. After the British Railway merger of 1923, LNER and LHS liveries were issued.

Bub was able to keep manufacturing costs low during the depression era because it utilized paper thin sheet metal. Bub restarted production of the Bing models in 1934 for the German market but this in turn ceased at the outbreak of World War II. Models made from Bing's dies appear in catalogs issued from the beginning of the 1930's and most are freight cars of the later Bing types. During that time period it was fairly common for tinplate train manufacturers to copy each others designs, and the similarity of Bing, Fandor and Ives freight and passenger cars in the Bub 'O' gauge lines is apparent. Albert Huck passed away in 1938, and Heinz inherited the family toy business. The original Bub factory in Nüremberg was completely destroyed during the war.

Bub early 'O' gauge clockwork train

After 1945 a production of trains in an 'S' like gauge (1:64 scale running on 22.5 mm track) was created, but these train products could not compete with the upcoming trend of HO gauge and was a commercial Bub '0' gauge operating Railway Lodge with crossing gates, bell and semaphore failure. The company struggled to recapture its earlier successes by creating the popular BubMobil. Bub Miniature Tin Toy Railway circa 1935, clockwork 2 7/8 in., lithographed tin, manufactured in commemoration 
	of the 100th anniversary of Germany's first railway from Nuremberg to Fürth in 1835 During the 1950´s the company made a strategic error by not switching its production from diecast and tinplate to plastic, as was the practice held by other toy train manufacturers of the time. By the mid 1960´s Bub was forced to completely cease production and cease operations. In 1964, the factory was located at Elsnerstrasse 9, near the original one. There was a plan to convert to the manufacture of HO gauge and N gauge locomotives with experimental vibrator motor drives designed by Heinz Huck, but the company itself wound up closing its doors in 1966.

Bub trains and cars are hard to find and are highly collectible. Complete sets of these trains rarely appear on the market except at auction when an old established collection is being dispersed. Catalogs issued by Bub are very rare because, in common with other Nüremberg manufacturers, these were issued only to retailers.

In 2002 a new firm began producing HO and large scale trains under the Bub name. There is no lineal connection between the old Bub and the new Bub. The new products are manufactured in China, but the company offices are located in Nüremberg. Their web site address is

Karl Bub 'O' gauge Tinplate 4 wheel Passenger Coach & Baggage Car KBN clockwork litho tin engine and tender with one tin litho passenger car in 'O' gauge
Bub 0-4-0 clockwork loco and tender Bub 1 gauge 4 wheel passenger coach Bub 1 gauge 4 wheel tinplate baggage car
Bub 'O' gauge USA Style Passenger Coach Bub Gauge 1 Tinplate 4 Wheel Passenger Coach & Baggage Car Bub gauge 1 USA Style 0-4-0 Loco & Tender Electric for 3 rail track
Bub 'O' gauge tinplate litho simulated wood sided gondola Bub 'O' gauge reefer Bub 'O' gauge Hopper Wagon With Brake Hut Bub 'O' gauge Side Tipping Wagon Bub 'O' gauge Milk Trafiic Wagon
Bub Flying Hamburgers in 'S' gauge
Bub 'O' gauge electric loco and tender Bub 'O' gauge 1st and 2nd class coach Bub 'O' gauge Speisewagen coach
Bub 'O' gauge D.R.B Dresden Baggage Car #2070 Bub 'O' gauge Mitropa Dining car Bub 'O' gauge Berlin-Munchen-Rom 1st & 2nd Class Coach
Bub 'O' gauge American Market Niagra Loco, Tender, Baggage and Pullman cars
Bub 'O' gauge clockwork #30354 loco, tender and 3 coaches

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