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Marx train set 761

The Marx 761 train set was a windup set headed by Marx M10005 diesel engines, one with a clockwork motor and one unpowered, along with freight cars. It allowed Marx to use up slow selling obsolete inventory. Marx sold it from 1951 to 1953, when presumably it had worked through its surplus of locomotives.

The Marx 761 twin diesel set

Marx 761 train set

BF Goodrich stores offered the Marx 761 train set at a bargain price in November and December 1951 and again in 1952. That would be $45 today.

I own an example of the Marx 761 train set. It contains a pair of yellow Marx M10005 Union Pacific locomotives, a 552G groceries and sundries gondola with a load of boxes, a brown 90171 B&LE box car with lithographed doors, and a scarce 3824 caboose with a brown frame. It originally came with an unusual dogbone coupler to link the two engines. The engines have an unusual coupler system for streamlined passenger cars. The dogbone coupler links the engines so a tab and slot coupler on the unpowered unit can demote the pair to freight service. I’ve read speculation that Marx used this set to clear out its inventory of M10005 shells.

Contemporary advertising described it as a new set at a low price. Marx wasn’t selling used trains of course, but the design was more than a decade and a half old at that point. But the phrase “new mix of stale inventory” isn’t good marketing. The same ads frequently also offered electric M10005 passenger sets for $8.98, which was 97 cents less than the store’s next-cheapest electric train. This also suggests Marx was moving out the dated M10005 design to make way for something that looked more like the 1950s.

Marx discontinued the set in 1953, the same year Union Pacific retired and scrapped the real M10005.

What about Marx set# 763?

Robert Whitacre’s 1991 book, Greenberg’s Guide to Marx Trains, Vol III: Sets says this was set# 763. But set #763 was a windup Commodore Vanderbilt set. So I think the book is in error.

Whitacre said Allied sold the set, but it wasn’t an exclusive for anyone. We also know Montgomery Ward sold it, as did the BF Goodrich chain of tire and auto supply stores. BF Goodrich franchises advertised it heavily in newspapers. That’s something that’s pretty easy to find out today but wasn’t easy at all in 1991 when Whitacre was compiling a list of sets.

Age and value of the Marx 761 set

Two questions I frequently hear about old train sets regard age and value. This set has enough unusual components that collectors have been able to date it to 1951 to 1953. If complete and in reasonable condition, the set is worth more than $200. My example came without a box, missing the gondola load and track, and with a couple of the cars in rough shape. So I paid closer to $100 for mine. If I ever come across an incomplete boxed set, I can complete it, so I’m glad to have it.

Not all vintage trains are worth a fortune. But the Marx 761 set is an example of an inexpensive toy from the 1950s, heavily advertised for a couple of years and soon forgotten, that is valuable today.

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