I saw a complaint on a discussion board recently that someone couldn’t find straight answers in regards to Marx tender values anywhere online. Maybe my previous guidance wasn’t specific enough, so I’ll give it another try.
I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that most Marx tenders are worth around $10. Some are worth more, but that’s a fairly short list.
What is a tender? It’s not a coal car.
First, let’s get the definitions out of the way, because if you want top dollar, you need to identify the item. The car that sits behind a steam locomotive and carries fuel isn’t a coal car. It’s called a tender. So when you go to sell it, call it a tender. “Coal car” is a keyword people use to scoop up bargains no one has bid on.
Now, if you think about it, this explains why demand for tenders can be a bit soft. Every steam engine comes with one. You can swap out the engine and leave the tender attached to the rest of the train. So that means most hobbyists already have more tenders than they need.
The valuable Marx tenders, then, are the ones that are unusual or less common. Even then, we’re not necessarily talking high-dollar items.
General guidance on the value of Marx tenders
Generally speaking, a 4-wheel plastic Marx tender is usually worth a little less than $10. A 4-wheel tin Marx tender is worth around $10. An 8-wheel plastic Marx tender is usually worth around $15. And an 8-wheel tin Marx tender is usually worth around $20.
Those are prices for typical tenders in typical condition. By typical I mean used, but not abused. It can have slight flaws and still get that kind of money. If it’s missing parts, or it’s beat up, it’ll go for less. If it’s in exceptional condition, it can go for more. But by exceptional condition, I mean it looks brand new, or very close to it.
Parts value of Marx tenders
A beat-up tender or one missing parts still has value, but generally speaking we’re talking parts value at that point. A hobbyist will have to come up with replacement parts from another car in order to complete one.
Generally speaking, the wheels, axles, couplers, and frames are all worth around a dollar apiece. The body is worth a dollar or two. The more complex the tender, the higher its parts value will be.
Noteworthy Marx tenders
There’s not much point in listing every single Marx tender and its value. That’s what price guides are for. If you’re going to deal in trains, having a price guide is indispensable. It’ll take 2-3 purchases for it to pay for itself if you use it correctly.
451 Canadian Pacific tenders
The 6-inch tin Canadian Pacific tenders tend to be worth $15-$40 in 4-wheel variety, and $25-$60 in 8-wheel variety, depending on condition.
451 Pennsylvania RR tender
Marx made a black 6-inch tender in the same style as the Canadian Pacific tender, lettered for the Pennsylvania Railroad. This tender dates to 1940-41, and sells for $25-$50.
2451 CP-style army tender
Marx army trains are always worth a second look. The CP-style Army tender came in two shades of green, each worth $40-$60 depending on condition.
551 Commodore Vanderbilt New York Central tenders
The most common variants of the 6-inch 551 aren’t especially rare or valuable. But if you find one in silver, gray, blue, or red, you’re looking at an item potentially worth $50-$100.
3551 William Crooks tin tender
The tin tender lettered for the William Crooks locomotive with a lithographed wood pile on top is rare, like the locomotive it came with. It’s worth $40-$60.
941 Nickel Plate Road tender in red
The black version of the 941 7-inch tin tender is worth $20. The rare red variation was only made in 1950 and is worth about $200.
941 Mickey Mouse tender
Marx made a 7-inch train lettered for Mickey Mouse. This train is highly sought after by both train and Disney collectors. The Mickey Mouse tender, from 1950-1952, is worth about $100.
951 Nickel Plate Road tender
The wedge-shaped 951 Nickel Plate Road tender, which is about six inches long, is extremely rare. It’s worth about $150. Be careful not to confuse this one with the lithographed 941 model, which is longer, and worth considerably less.
952 Army Supply tender
The model 952 wedge-shaped Army Supply tender dates to 1940, and is worth around $150.
961 gray plastic Santa Fe tender with sound
In the 1970s, Marx released a gray plastic tender lettered for the Santa Fe Railroad that was dark gray and featured electronic chugging sound. The sound is quaint by modern standards but wasn’t a bad effort with 1970s technology. In nice condition and good working order, this tender is worth $80. If it doesn’t work, it can still fetch $20.
971 articulated tender
The Marx 971 articulated tender for its Mercury locomotive, which dates to 1938-40 and was lettered for the New York Central, is typically worth around $50. It came in three different colors, with no big difference in value for each.
1951 plastic tenders
Most of the plastic 1951-model tenders aren’t anything special. The variants to look out for are the ones lettered for the Rio Grande ($50), U.S. Army ($35), or Canadian Pacific ($75). There’s also a variant lettered for Cape Canaveral, in red, that isn’t in the books. It’s generally worth around $75 as well.
The rest of them are generally worth $15.
3551 William Crooks tenders
Marx released a plastic tender for its William Crooks locomotive, lettered either Tales of Wells Fargo or St. P & P R.R. The Tales of Wells Fargo version is worth $20-$35, while the St. Paul & Pacific version is worth $15-$35.
3991 diecast tender
The first Marx 333 locomotives shipped with a heavy, die-cast tender lettered for the New York Central. It was hard to pull, so Marx discontinued it in favor of a plastic tender. If you can find a diecast one, it’s worth $40-$70.