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Buying & Selling
Fake Railroad Clocks
Railroads made extensive use of clocks in order to maintain safe schedules, so it is no surpise that individuals have attempted to capitalize on this fact by making counterfeit, railroad-marked clocks.
By far the most common way of doing this is to install a glass insert marked with a railroad name or logo on an existing, old mechanical clock. The new glass takes the place of what was once a clear pane. This method of producing counterfeits has been around for a long time, although lately there seems to be a resurgence of such items in internet auctions. The obvious, telltale sign is the presence of new-looking, screened-on-glass wording or logos on an otherwise old clock. The glass usually is on the lower portion of the clock where the movement of the pendulum can be seen. In at least one instance, a whole series of these have been produced -- with different railroad names/logos. While the sellers are not claiming that the clocks are of real railroad origin, there is the possibility that unwary buyers may make assumptions and not "read the fine print". Remember: Anything that looks new likely is.
Another example of a fake railroad clock is the following, taken from the Railroad Detective: A Guide to Replica and Counterfeit Railroad Collectibles with the generous permission of the authors Bill and Sue Knous.
Right. This clock with a Southern Pacific logo has a worn and stained dial made of paper, but the weathering is faked and the insides of the clock are modern. Reportedly there is also one marked for the PRR (Pennsylvania Railroad). Bill and Sue Knous note that although this clock has a geographical location printed on the dial, railroads did not normally do this since clocks were rotated constantly for maintenance purposes. Click on the image for a larger version.
Right. On the reverse of this clock is a Seth Thomas sticker which is also a reproduction that is weathered and torn to look old. Clocks such as this one have gone for very high prices, captializing on the appeal to both railroadiana and clock collectors. Consider that it is quite easy to take a paper label and "distress" it in various ways so that it appears old. Be extremely wary of judging authenticity based on the condition of labels (or dials) alone. Click on the image for a larger version.
This information comes with no guarantees and is advisory only. See Disclaimer and Things to Consider.
Bill and Sue Knous operate one of the premier railroadiana auction services, Railroad Memories, and consequently are well-positioned to know about railroadiana fakes and reproductions. They have been very generous in sharing information with the hobby, and we thank them for their gracious permission to reprint the information that they have compiled.