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Ernst Plank & Company Trains

Ernst Plank Logo 1866-1930


Plank double boiler steam loco with 20 vent holes in the firebox shell and twin flash boiler above. Cylinders are dummies. Loco circa 1880's to 1890's. Ernst Plank & Company started out in 1866 in Nüremberg Germany as a toy-repair shop. Named after the company founder, they made magic lanterns, steam engines, die cast metal planes, boats, cars, steamboats and sewing machines produced from pressed tin plate. At one time it was the second largest manufacturer of magic lanterns. The company was located at Hochfederstrasse 40 in Nüremberg. Plank's toys were notable for their quality, often being ornate in design and more finely finished than other manufacturers of that era.

First electric train by Plank Plank produced it's first toy train in 1882. The early trains made through 1885 were gauge III (2½ inch track gauge) and were marketed as complete sets that included a steam powered Ernst Plank Vulcan locomotive, four-wheel lithographed rolling stock with pressed brass wheels, and a circle of track. Track was made of tinplate, and came in sections that were put together and held in place with steel pins, just like the tinplate track sections manufactured today. Many of the trains were hand enameled and contained a high level of detail, such as curtained windows on the passenger coaches. American-profile trains were made expressly for the U.S. market.

Ernst Plank Vulcan Brass locomotive 0-4-0 with lithographed four wheel tender, green gondola and red coach

Ernst Plank Vulkan Live-steam 0-4-0 Loco with lithographed four wheel tender By 1900 Plank's catalogs displayed a huge array of electro-physics gadgets and a full spectrum of optical devices, toy boats, stationary steam engines, and locomotives. The catalogs were richly illustrated as almost every apparatus was accompanied by a detailed engraving. Even a steam turbine locomotive was offered. Some of the trains were designed to run on track, while others were for floor operation. The front wheels usually had very thin flanges on the track runner models, and could be turned and locked, so that a circle radius could be run on the floor, without the use of track. Track gauge was 2½", but the 'scale' was between 'O' and Standard. Plank dubbed its 65mm product as 8 gauge.

Ernst Plank Tin Litho Station Eight major manufacturers of model steam engines conducted business in the Nüremburg area: Bing, Carette, Doll, Falk, Krauss Mohr, Märklin, Plank and Schöenner. Along with firms like these, Ernst Plank set the standard for the Golden Age of European toy manufacturing. Plank equipment is easily identified by the trademark embossing that had the letters 'EP' inside a cirlce surrounded by a winged wheel. Plank amazed the toy world in 1882 by introducing Germany's first electric train. They are famous for their so-called "stork-engines". Their "Black Prince" is one of the most wanted live steam trains for collectors. The company also Ernst Plank 2-2-0 clockwork loco & tender in gauge 1 produced clockwork powered tinplate trains. Plank survived the First World War, however, the company was one of the many firms that suffered from the 1929 depression and economic crisis. The company was sold in 1932 to brothers Hans and Fritz Schaller, who bought the factory largely to get the optics from Plank's magic lantern line. Schaller specialized in home movie equipment.

Today, Plank trains are very rare and highly collectible. A rare Ernst Plank gauge III live steam passenger train set with a locomotive, tender and two passenger cars and a circle track in its original wooden presentation box, from the collection of Ward Kimball brought $46,750 at a June 2005 auction.

Plank #500 Vulkan steam driven locomotive and tender Plank primitive 4 wheel passenger car measures 16½ inches long, 8 inches high, 4½ inches wide. Has interior seats Ernst Plank Live Steam Train Tram

Ernst Plank gauge III Vulkan passenger set live steam European outline 0-4-0 brass engine

Ernst Plank American Outline Live-steam Locomotive and 4-wheel Passenger Coach in gauge III

Ernst Plank gauge III live-steam passenger set in wood, painted tin, with brass boiler 4-4-0 American steam outline Vulkan engine with flywheel operation

Ernst Plank gauge 1 live steam passenger set hand enameled European outline 2-2-0

Ernst Plank 'O' gauge Union locomotive set hand enameled American outline 2-2-0

Ernst Plank gauge 1 passenger set painted tin European steam outline 2-2-0 clockwork Union engine

Ernst Plank hand enameled tin gauge 1 passenger coaches with hinged roofs Ernst Plank Postal Wagon

Ernst Plank Early Tinplate Train Station for gauge 'O' gauge circa 1900, 25.6 inches x 7.9 inches x 9.8 inches, 1 main building with 2 waiting halls, embossed brick wall, framed windows

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