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Department Store Special -- San Francisco
Lionel Standard Gauge -- Dark Green 380 with 19-18 Passenger Cars
In the good old days, Lionel made up special uncataloged sets to get around the "fair trade" law and also to unload out-of-date inventory. The Fair Trade Act allowed manufacturers to set a price, and enforce it. If a distributor discounted anything, they could be cut off without any legal recourse. This law went away in the 1950's. Earlier, Lionel service stations and other "catalog dealers" had to charge the full catalog price, or else. By making up unique sets, known to collectors as Department Store Specials (DSS), Lionel could set a new, lower price, justified by economies of scale or to unload old stock.

Dave McEntarfer's fine book on Lionel pre-war sets (Greenberg 1995) documents many DSS and points out that most contain fairly common pieces and don't have any extra value unless they come with the DSS marked set box. This outfit does have a unique set box and also has an odd car. The set box is rubber stamped "Outfit No. 2 for H.B. SPECIAL" and the 19 Combine has a factory coupler swap (hook couplers changed to combination/latch couplers). See photos on the Close-ups page.

When I first saw the set box, I thought H.B. meant Halle Brothers in Cleveland (a large department store -- as in Halle Berry from Cleveland who says her parents named her for the store). But inside the H.B. set box was a Thoradson transformer box with a Hale Bros. San Francisco, label. See photos on What the lucky kid got

xxx Under Construction





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