A set of circa-1915 Baltimore-made toy electric trains, wrapped in brittle newspapers and stored away for the past 40 years, could be bid up to the cost of a new Ford Explorer when sold today at a local auction house.
The first electric toy trains appeared around 1899/1900 and were probably of German origin. Because few homes have electricity at this time, these trains were powered by a battery. The battery of the "wet cell" in use at that time was messy and dangerous, but the trains were still popular. Joshua Lionel Cowen - a name most people will remember, was the first documented American to a toy electric train to build. The year was 1901, and was designed to be used by traders as an animated display of a shop window. It was just a train - a motorized cable car. When he saw people playing with the thing, he realized his potential, and as they say "a star is born."