SAN FRANCISCO – Turner Auctions + Appraisals will present The Armond Conti Collection of Model Trains, Part 1, on Saturday, March 12, beginning at 10:30 am Pacific time. Featuring more than 250 lots from the estate of a Northern Californian who collected trains during the course of 75 years, the sale presents a variety of fine, distinctive and desirable pre-war and post-war train offerings – some new old stock, some limited editions, some unused and some with original boxes. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Armond Conti attended St. Ignatius High School and graduated from San Jose State in industrial technology. He met his wife Chris in the late 1950s, and in 1964 the Contis and their then-three children moved to Livermore, California, then San Jose, where Armond Conti worked as a nuclear engineer at General Electric for more than 35 years, until he retired.
Armond Conti began his lifelong passion for model trains around age four, kindled by a Christmas present from his parents. He continued to build and enhance his collection through the years, adding top-quality model trains from train shows and online sources. He also began to repair model trains for others, working after his day job at Bill’s Train Station in San Jose for more than 15 years. He also set up a shop in his backyard to pursue this aspect of his train hobby. His train layouts burgeoned as well, increasing as his homes got bigger: first at the top of his San Jose garage, where the layout platform hung down two feet from the ceiling, and Conti would stand on a ladder to work on it. Later, when Conti moved to a nearby town, his train layout expanded to one-third of the basement of the family’s large and spacious new home.
Through the years, Conti enjoyed ‘train chasing’ with fellow train buffs and visiting the Tehachapi Loop near Los Angeles, an engineering feat completed in 1876, where he would watch trains with his son Mike and others. As Mike said, his dad liked trains because they were “big, noisy, and kind of cool.”
Now, with Armond Conti’s passing, the family has decided to part with the collection. Fellow enthusiasts who share his passion for model trains are sure to benefit from and enjoy the astute rewards of collecting for more than seven decades.
Highlights of the upcoming sale include a 3rd Rail Brass O Scale Southern Pacific P10 4-6-2 Pacific #2485 in daylight colors. It is unused and offered in its original packaging, and its estimate is $500-$700.
Another standout is a MTH 20-3125-1 Southern Pacific AC-6 cab forward die-cast steam locomotive and tender in its original packaging. It, too, is unused and is estimated at $500-$700.
Certain to draw bids is a coveted Lionel O Gauge 6-31700 Girl’s Train, consisting of the following: a 6-28620 2037 Lionel Lines 2-6-4 engine and tender; a 6-19347 6436-500 Lehigh Valley Lavender Hopper; a 6-39232 6464-510 NYC Pacemaker pastel blue box car; a 6-26033 6462-500 NYC pink Gondola with cannisters; a 6-39233 6464-515 MKT 6464 yellow box car; and a 6-29703 6427-500 Pennsylvania Porthole light blue caboose. All are in individual boxes within the set box. The lot carries an estimate of $300-$500.
A second strong Lionel offering is a Lionel 6-18300 Mint Car Series Pennsylvania GG-1 electric locomotive in its original box. Its estimate is $300-$500.
Completing the highlights is a Right of Way Industries O Gauge 0-4-0 saddle tanker #5201, marked Southern Pacific #9911 and offered in its original packaging. It is estimated at $300-$500.
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