Railway Memorabilia

Railway memorabilia, or train ephemera, is an exciting field of collecting. There are railroad posters, postcards and other replica items that bring memories to older railway fans and help introduce the rail experience to younger generations.

A group of railway enthusiasts gathered around an old timetable, oohing and aahing. They are in a train museum, but they could just as easily be in a library, a classroom or even a living room.

These train fans are sifting through the many railroad memorabilia items that have been donated to the museum. Some items are very valuable, such as the lanterns from the Colorado and Rio Grande Southern Railroads. They can sell for a lot of money. There are also very expensive silver passes that railroad employees used to have, and they were usually engraved with names.

Journey Through Time: Exploring the Allure of Railway Memorabilia

Other items, such as brochures and timetables, are quite collectible as well. Railroads commissioned a lot of artists and photographers to do pictures for them that they then hung in depots, hotels or wherever else they wanted to advertise their railroad. One of the most popular was a picture by William Henry Jackson, who would go to spots along the railroad tracks and take beautiful scenic pictures that they then used as promotional material.

Other ephemera is less expensive but still collectible, such as the little hand fans railroads gave out. They are very popular with collectors, as are matchbooks and playing cards. There were also very nice calendars made by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which commissioned a number of artists including Grif Teller for theirs.