Frontiersman Passenger Cars
#24720 FY&PRR Coach made in 1959.
When first introduced in 1959, the sides and roofs were painted on black plastic.
The only markings were the number 20 and "F.Y.& P.R.R." which stood for
"Fifty Years of Progress in Railroading."
Ted Hamler, in the January 2009 edition of the TCA Quarterly, explains:
"The American Flyer Company officially formed in 1910, however, they produced their first toy trains in 1907.
In 1909,the American Flyer Company began adding American Flyer Trains to the nameplate on their trains
as shown in the 1909 catalog justifying the 1909 date."
Though the 1959 Catalog shows it without the name,
the name "American Flyer Lines" was added in April, 1959.  The unnamed cars are very difficult to find.
Near the end of the year, Gilbert converted to unpainted plastic and continued through 1960.
In pictures, and even in person, it is not easy to tell the difference between the painted and unpainted cars.
(The painted car is on the right.)
Scroll down to learn how to tell the difference.
#24730 FY&PRR Overland Baggage Car made in 1959 & 1960.
Like the #24720 , it started out painted and
the 1959 catalog shows it without  the "American Flyer Lines" name.
This is a treat!  You won't see many of these around.
Heimburger says that even the early cars bore the AFL name.
Here is the early-1959 car with  "American Flyer Lines" added on the left end.
Late in the year, the "American Flyer Lines" lettering moved to the right end.
Here's a subtlety I missed until someone pointed it out to me.  I'll bet you missed it, too!
On the very earliest of these Frontiersman passenger cars, the insides of the sideframes were left unpainted.
My non-AFL #24730 and my right-sticker #24730 below both have these early sideframes.
On all cars made after March 1959, the insides were painted like the one on the right above.
(Photos courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
Like the #24720, it became unpainted plastic near the end of 1959 and through 1960.
Here are the four versions together.
The unpainted car is on the bottom right.
The painted baggage car is on the left in this picture; the car on the right is unpainted.  In the picture, you can see a slight difference in color, but in real life, the two are virtually indistinguishable.  Both the color and the finish look the same.  It's amazing.  With the other Gilbert cars I have, it's easy to tell which is the painted one and which is unpainted.  Not so with these two!  My painted car is in like new condition, so there are no telltale scratches or playwear to reveal the underlying black plastic.  You can't even tell by looking in the doors and windows because the inside is painted just as beautifully as the outside.  The only way I could tell for sure was to open it up: the inside of the two ends is not painted as well as the rest; you can see it has been spray painted on black plastic.  But you can't see those ends from the doors or windows.

Later, someone showed me how to tell the difference without opening up the car.  It's so subtle that I missed it!  If you hold the car so the light reflects off it just right, you can see a swirl pattern in the plastic on the wall above the windows and doors of the unpainted cars.  On a painted car, the paint covers up the swirl.  Seeing it is tricky, but getting a decent picture of it is tough!!! After a bunch of tries, I got one:
Notice also the left-hand closed doors in these cars.  The painted ones have a plain door, but the unpainted one has wood slats and X cross-bracing.  I'm told that all cars with the X are unpainted, but not all plain doors are painted.
#24740 FY&PRR Combination Car made only in 1960.  It was unpainted plastic.

Pulled by the #21088 Franklin Engine, the Frontiersman Passenger set was made by Gilbert in 1959 & 1960.
In 1959, it consisted of the engine and two #24720 Coach cars. 
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
As a fiftieth anniversary special, they included a #24730 Baggage Car in a separate box
with a gift sticker inside the end flap.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
In 1960, a #24740 Combination Car replaced one of the coach cars and the #24730 Baggage Car became an official part of the set.

Both years, they made it under two set numbers, 23099 and 20550.  Both had the same engine and cars.  Set #20550 included 12 #26720 Curved Track, a #26690 Track Terminal, and a #22004 40-watt Transformer, but the 23099 set came with none of these.
The first 50 Frontiersman sets made were specially packaged.
A gold seal sticker on the boiler front of the locomotive identified it as a special anniversary set.
Greenberg's Guide says it is not known how or to whom they were distributed,
but it is certain they went to special friends of the Gilbert Company.
(Photo and explanation courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
Inside the box, below and to the right of the engine, was stamped  "One of the First 50."
(Photo and explanation courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
The tender was also stamped to identify the engine as "One of the First 50."
The cars bore no identifying marks, but they were painted without the AFL lettering.
(Photo and explanation courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
Each First 50 set was pulled by a #21088 "First 50" FY&PRR Franklin Locomotive and had a consist of two #24720 painted coaches without the later AFL lettering.  It included 12 #26720 Curved Track, a #26690 Track Terminal, and a #22004 40-watt Transformer.
#24750 FY&PRR Combination Car made in 1960 & 1961.  It was painted plastic.
Though a passenger car, it was sold only in the #20655 Frontiersman Freight set.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)

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