Railroadiana’s Allure

Have you heard of railroadiana? It’s a fantastic hobby that involves collecting locomotive tools, industrial name plates and memorabilia – pretty much anything that can be labeled historical. Some popular items for women interested in the hobby are china and photographs, silverware and calendars. Locks and keys, baggage tags, badges, buttons, lanterns and railroad passes are just a few of numerous other items that can be considered collectibles.

What items cannot fall under the category of railroadiana? Models are not accepted, as that is a hobby all its own. Fake or reproduced items, simply because they are not original and therefore not legitimately historical, also fall outside the realm of railroadiana. Would you expect to buy a duplicate in an auction? Railroadiana can be identified as pieces that should belong in a museum. But just because people know what railroadiana should be does not mean they aren’t trying to pass duplicates off as originals.

Another question you might ask – why would people be interested in railroadiana? Collectors have many reasons for chasing down these locomotive artifacts. Some people like to collect and decorate their train rooms with real pieces from the past. Others might not be interested in actually collecting railroad items, but they will show up to shows and auctions to photograph trains. Still others like trading in their current stash for other items. The reasons for collecting are as varied as the ages of the fans. Children fascinated with trains, the elderly who remember them well, and the middle-aged who have heard stories all find their own unique way of expressing an interest in railroadiana.

If you haven’t yet, you should look up pictures of collector’s items. The china is beautiful, locks and keys are old but distinguished, and lanterns are reminiscent of a time long gone. Old tools used during the time of trains, stamped or containing name plates that would identify to what railroad they belonged, are just pieces of trash until an actual photo or a real collector’s piece is sitting in front of you. There is nothing more romantic in the present than the past.