The Marx diesel freight train set number 9500 was an early 1950s electric train set featuring twin diesel locomotives pulling 7-in freight cars. It’s an attractive set and a very good example of post-war tin lithography, which was becoming something of a lost art at the time.
Marx diesel type electrical train set 9500
The set consisted of two diesel locomotives numbered 6000, one powered and one dummy unit, and a caboose lettered for the Southern Pacific, which was one of the largest railroads west of the Mississippi River at the time. The diesels and caboose flanked the following 7-inch cars to make a five-unit set:
- Pennsylvania Merchandise Service boxcar, any number from 37950-37959
- Wabash gondola, yellow, number 80982
The powered engine had both forward and reverse, so the 9500 set could compete very nicely with a Lionel Scout set. The price and capabilities were similar, but Lionel didn’t offer diesel locomotives at that price point. So the Marx set looked less dated than what Lionel was willing to sell at a similar price.
We know Marx sold the set in 1950. It’s unclear when Marx discontinued it but it may have been as late as 1954.
Other set contents
The set also included an oval of O27 track and a 50 watt transformer, model 1239 with circuit breaker. The track and power weren’t anything special. The 1239 transformer, for example, lacks a set of posts for accessories. But they were enough to get you started and pretty typical for the price point this set sold for at the time.
Marx and its retail partners marketed the set as a diesel-type electric freight set. Regrettably, I was unable to find a vintage ad mentioning set number 9500 specifically, but similar sets in the 1952-54 timeframe sold for about $14.
What was Southern Pacific?
The Southern Pacific was a Class 1 railroad that operated mostly in the southwestern United States, operating around 13,000 miles of track at its peak. Its track ran through the major cities in California, so this set would have had more appeal in the western United States than a set lettered for, say, the New York Central or Pennsylvania railroads.
The Southern Pacific merged into the Union Pacific in 1996. Southern Pacific has an interesting history beyond railroads. It ran telegraph lines alongside its railroad tracks, taking advantage of the value of the right-of-way, and in the 1970s it started using those lines for long distance telephone calls, creating what became Sprint, the telephone company that merged with T-Mobile in 2020.
I typically see boxed examples of the 9500 sell for around $100 shipped. Having original paperwork and a box in nice condition can help the value. Boxed examples are reasonably common, because Marx shipped them in sturdy boxes that worked well for storage, and the owners frequently boxed the set back up for storage when they weren’t using it.
I acquired an unboxed example earlier this year for around $50. While not a steal, I thought it was a fair price. And it’s always fun to buy a set locally.