Found an online bookstore a couple of weeks ago that was selling the above mentioned tomes for a reasonable collective price and who also included shipping in the deal, so I sprang for the purchase and -as it turned out- got the last ones they had in stock. Having spent the last24 hours digging through them, I can report that they're well-worth the investment if you happen to be interested in brass trains, either as working models or as a (boo!) collector.
"The Brass Train Guide Book" is a 300 page hard-back that's chock-full of high-quality color photos of some of the best quality brass work that's been done since the Japanese first began exporting hand-built brass models to the US. Models from practically *all* of the importers and nearly all of the Japanese and Korean factories are featured.
If you admire fine model-making, the pictures alone are worth the price of the book, and although they largely represent skills that are far beyond most of us, they certainly give you goals to set your sights on!
The text is a reasonably comprehensive history of the brass railroad model industry. It features interviews with most of the big -and not so big- importers who first got the ball rolling with brass imports, and proceeds on more-or-less chronologically to the guys who are now running Overland, W & R, Division Point, and so forth.
The writing is hardly inspired, and the editing leaves something to be desired as well, but the author (Dan Glasure) does include enough personal touches to bring the text to life, including admitting that he dropped a $15,000 tender while researching the book... (Oog! He had it repaired, and reports that neither of his legs got broken as a result. He even included a picture of the wrinkled tender to go with the story...)
The other book, "Brass Model Trains -Price & Data Guide" is a 520 page soft-back reference chart that attempts to list not just every HO brass loco that's been built -as the Brown Books did- but also includes all gauges and all the rolling stock, as well as the locos!
It includes pretty much the same data on each model that the Brown Books included: railroad/owner, importer, catalog # if known, builder, quantity made, year of production, original MSRP, current value (for mint condition models), and various relevant notes. I spotted a few models that had been omitted from this edition, but according to the text, Mister Glasure plans to publish updates of the Price and Data Guide every two years or so, and will be including the ommitted -and new- items as he locates data on them. (BTW: He fails to provide a way for readers to contribute data to his next edition, which I feel is a serious oversight on his part.)
The only quibble I have with the "Price & Data Guide" is that Mister Glasure is probably the biggest high-quality brass dealer in the US, and as such some of his opinions should be taken with a grain of salt: I.E. his recomendations that you should sell your brass through a dealer, and not to use ebay as a current price guide for brass models are more than a bit-self-serving; as are the quoted prices in the "Guide", which are nearly all considerably higher than the market will support for those of us who are not big-time brass dealers.
On the other hand, he makes no secret of his business connections - without which the writing of these books would have probably not been possible- leaving it up to the reader to decide exactly how much salt is needed for each opinion... and you can't fault him for that.
Taken together, although they are not an insignificant investment the two books comprise a veritible gold mine of information for anyone who's interested in brass railroad models, their history, and the heights to which detail can be taken for those willing -and able- to pay the price.
P.S. Changed servers. New posting name. Same old opinions.