Featured Railroadiana Items 3

This page shows railroadiana items of unusual interest. These images were sent in by collectors for others to enjoy; the items are not for sale. As images are replaced on the "front page" of the website, they will be archived here. See links to other pages of Featured Items at the bottom of the page. A special thanks to those who have sent in images.

Brochure. The brochure shown at right is an example of the marvelous commercial illustrations that were often used in railroad advertising during the early decades of the 20th century. It advertises Southern Pacific's "Circle Tours" around the United States and features a festive trackside scene just before train departure. Unfolded, It is 8" by 9" and dates to 1927. Click on thumbnail image for a larger version.
Lantern. Brass-top lanterns are among the most desirable of railroadiana categories, not only because of their appearance but because they represent a particularly historical era of railroading. Most, though not all, date from the late decades of the 19th century when railroads were in their most extensive construction period (see more). The brass-top lantern shown at right is particularly rare. It is marked for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad and was possibly manufactured by the Kelly Lamp Company. Image shown by permission; click on it for a larger version.
Reproduction Badge. The railroad police badge shown at right is marked for the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway and is both beautifully designed and well made. It is also a reproduction. Fake or reproduction badges are a big problem for the hobby and require special diligence on the part of collectors. Read more on this badge and others like it. Image courtesy of Tony Carp.
Lamp. While not a particularly unusual item, the use of this Adams & Westlake switch lamp is a bit unusual. The owner uses it as a yard ornament in his garden and keeps it continually lit. At night when there is snow on the ground, the soft amber glow of the lamp is particularly beautiful and a reminder of how rail yards once looked when kerosene-fueled switch lamps were in use. Updated information from the owner: "This came off a Nickel Plate spur line in Northern Indiana in the mid 70's and has been in place for 18 years as part of my landscape. It has red and amber lenses, burns 24/7 and consumes right at a gallon of K-1 kerosene a month. It has never blown out in the worst of storms. It has only run out of fuel a handful of times when I've been away on an extended vacation. Once I got back from a 10 day absence and while the wick had charcoaled up with some crusty remnant burnt felt, there was still a hint of a half flame burning." Image and information courtesy of Tim Eisinger. Click on thumbnail image for larger version.
Brass. Here's an unusual item from the car department. Called a brass, it was one of those "wear" parts between the car body and the axle. Embossed markings include "Sunset Central" (the railroad), "Magnus" (the manufacturer) and "Houston" (the manufacturer's location). The Southern Pacific Railroad used the "Sunset Central" moniker on its consolidated Texas lines from 1911 to about 1920. Image courtesy of Ken Stavinoha. Click on image for larger version.
China. Many different types of china were used in railroad dining car service beyond the usual plates, cups and saucers. Shown at right is a rather unusual piece -- a footed egg cup in the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad's "Youngstown" pattern made by Mayer China and dating possibly to the late 1920's. Photo courtesy of Cabin Class Collectibles. Click on image for larger version.
Builders Plate. Builders plates were affixed to the sides of rolling stock to indicate the manufacturer, date of construction and other important information. Locomotive builders plates from the major manufacturers are relatively common although highly sought after by collectors. The plate shown here is much rarer since it comes from a railroad's own shops -- in this case the Sayre shops of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The plate was attached to one of the railroad's R-1 class steam engines which were rebuilt at Sayre to N-6's. Photo and item from Greg Deibler. Click on image for larger version.
Glassware. In addition to fine china, railroad dining cars also used beautiful crystal in their table services. The elegant water pitcher shown at right was used on the Northern Pacific Railway. Typical of many railroad dining car pitchers, this piece is constructed of a strong metal frame and heavy duty glass -- a combination necessary to withstand repeated use on a moving dining car. Photo by permission. Click on image for larger version
Trophy. Railroad YMCA's were a common feature of towns that had railroad yards or terminals. Their purpose was to provide crews with clean, affordable accomodations that were free of alcohol and other temptations. It seems that some YMCA's even sponsored recreational activities, as evidenced by the trophy cup shown at right. The wording reads: " PRR YMCA Potato Race won by [name]. PRR stands for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Photo courtesy of Bob Niblick. Click on image for larger version.
Lantern. The lantern at right is a tall-globe, bellbottom model manufactured by the Steam Gauge & Lantern Company. It likely dates to late 1890's and has a red-etched globe and twist-off bell. Both frame and globe are marked for the Western Maryland Railroad. Steam Gauge & Lantern examples are rather rare, since the company was bought out by R.E. Dietz in 1896. Click on image for a larger version. Photo by Rob Hoffer.
Lamp. The lamp at right is from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and is rather unusual because of the shape of its double brackets -- used to hang the lamp on rolling stock such as a caboose. The two brackets allowed the lamp to be aligned in a couple of different ways depending on what signal aspect was desired. Click on image for a larger version. Photo by Howard Holland.
China. Few railroadiana items are as elegant and attractive as railroad china. This beautiful compote was used in dining car service of the Boston & Albany Railroad and is an example of the line's "Berkshire" pattern. Click on image for larger version. Photo courtesy of Bill Lyles.
Doorknob. Shown at right is a rare brass doorknob from the New York, Ontario & Western Railway. The "W" within the "O" was the company's logo. Brass doorknobs like this -- cast with a railroad's logo or name -- were typically made for the interior of office buildings or stations rather than for rolling stock. Click on image for larger version. Collection of Clyde Conrow; photo by Tom Stranko.
Sign. Shown at right is an exceptionally rare and old cast iron railroad crossing sign. This is a double sided sign that is approximately 30"x36". Signs like these were used in the New England area and Mid-Atlantic states (including on the Delaware & Hudson and Western Maryland) from the turn-of-the-century until the 50's and 60's, usually at rural crossings. Photo and information courtesy of George Tsai. Click on image for larger version.

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