The Skyline mystery solved

In the 1940s and 1950s, Skyline of Philadelphia manufactured and marketed a line of toy train-oriented building kits. Actually, there were two lines: One was a line of building kits made of cardstock and wood, and one was a smaller line of lithographed tin buildings, similar to the inexpensive toys made by the likes of Louis Marx, Wyandotte, and countless others in the days before ubiquitous plastics.

I’ve long suspected the two product lines came from the same company, but had no evidence to prove it. Until now: Ed “Ice” Berg produced scans of a Skyline catalog containing both paper/wood and tin litho buildings, side by side.

Yellow Skyline house
This yellow stone and siding tin house by Skyline is my favorite of the two houses in the line. It dates to the 1940s or 1950s. Skyline cataloged it as #M4 and called it the Oak Park house.

Skyline’s address, at least in 1948, was 1413 Vine Street, Philadelphia 2, Pa. As best we can tell, they got their start in 1940 by purchasing a line of kits from O. Schoenhut Manufacturing Co., run by Otto Schoenhut. Schoenhut introduced its cardstock kits sometime after 1935.

Skyline tin brick house
This tin Skyline brick house dates to the 1940s or early 1950s. Before Plasticville, this was what populated Lionel and American Flyer train layouts. This one was catalog #M5 and Skyline called it the Scarsdale.

I own two examples of the Skyline Oak Park and Scarsdale homes. I spotted the first Oak Park home at a train show several years ago. Money was tight that year, and I’d given myself $10 to spend, and I found that building for less than that. I was happy. Over the years, I’ve bought others as I found them. I’m sure the tin buildings were postwar issue, but I like them with both prewar and postwar tin. I know the paper kits were available both before and after World War II.

I also have an unbuilt Skyline paper train station kit, including a tube of dried-up glue that came with it. I bought it intending to scan and reprint it onto heavy card stock and build the reprint, but that’s something else I just haven’t gotten around to doing yet. Eventually I’ll get around to that.

One thing I don’t have, but want now that I know they exist, is a Skyline tin litho billboard set. As Ed notes, their design is true to the first half of the previous century, and being made of tin makes them unusual indeed. Plenty of companies made paper billboards, but as far as I’m concerned, you can never have too much metal on a train layout.

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