Lionel introduced the 817 caboose in 1926. The first version had peacock sides and a dark green roof. The earliest versions came with short wheelbase frames, and are the hardest cabooses to find.
By 1930 Lionel changed the windows on the caboose from orange painted to brass plated.
In 1933 the caboose got a new color scheme. Red with peacock roof.
In 1934 the color changed again to all bright red. The earliest bright red 817 cabooses had brass trim and latch couplers. These brass plate cars usually have a slightly darker shade of red.
In 1935 the bright red got a little lighter, and nickel plates and end railings replaced the brass trim. This version is found with latch couplers or box couplers. By 1937 the nickel railings were replaced with painted railings. The box coupler version ran until 1940 and was then discontinued. A rubber stamped version was not made.
I picked up a 817 on eBay for 5 dollars and decided to make it my first restoration project. It appears I have the 1933 version, red with peacock roof.
Here are some great instructions on how to restore a Pre-War Lionel car.