Checklist for Selling Railroadiana Online

Here are some checklists that may be helpful in describing railroadiana items for sale online: China, Keys,Lamps, Lantern Frames, Lantern Globes, Locks, Paper, and other metal items. The lists will be expanded as appropriate. Something left out? Email us via the Contact Us page.

Note that the adage about a picture being worth a thousand words applies here, especially when trying to describe something like a china pattern. The more you can supply pictures to support and cover the points on these checklists, the better.

China: (see China page)
pattern if known
type of item (plate, cup, etc.)
manufacturers markings on back
any numbers on back (could be date code)
any chips, cracks, hairlines, spots, or other damage

Accurate description of condition and any damage is critical. Look over the item with a loupe or magnifying glass.
Keys: (see Keys page)
manufacturer's markings
railroad markings (initials preceding "RR" or "Ry")
brass construction versus other metal
any damage, twisting, bending, etc.
surface polished or abraded

Because of the concern for fake markings, a good photo showing the marking and overall patina, A.K.A. "pocket wear" of the key is important. Polished surfaces on railroad keys are generally a "minus".
Lamps: (see Lamps page)
type of lamp, e.g., marker lamp, switch lamp, etc.
manufacturer's markings
railroad markings (initials preceding "RR" or "Ry")
patent dates if present
all parts present (fount, lens, lens rings, bail)
amount of rust, corrosion, and paint condition
color and diameter of lenses (sometimes these vary)
any damage, cracks, etc. in the lenses.
height of lamp

Comments: Lamps were normally painted, but poor paint condition is common. Some amount of surface corrosion, if it does not compromise the structural integrity of the lamp is not a big deal. In restoring a lamp, most collectors will remove the corrosion and apply a new coat of paint. Sometimes lamps were electrified by the railroad, so it is not uncommon to find lamps with a socket in place of the missing fount and burner. In fact, manufacturers sold kits for railroads to electrify their lamps.
Lantern Frames: (see lantern pages)
lantern frame type
manufacturer's markings
railroad markings (initials preceding "RR" or "Ry")
patent dates
twist off or insert fuel fount
all parts present (fount, burner, globe retainer, spring, bail)
brass construction versus other metal; brass top
any rust, corrosion, or paint; fuel fount loose or frozen in place
surface pitting

The structural details of lantern frames are important in determining value. For example, a frame with a "twist-off" fount is usually more desirable than an equivalent frame with a insert fount. Other seemingly minor features, such as latest patent dates, can also be very important. Provide as much detail in your description as possible.
Lantern Globes: (see globes page)
color of globe
height of globe
diameter of globe openings
extended base or corning style
railroad markings (initials preceding "RR" or "Ry")
height of railroad marking on globe
markings etched, cast, or cut
any chips, cuts, or cracks;
if clear globe, cloudy or yellowed

Damage is a critical factor in determining globe value. Small chips around the rims are common as are small nicks in the surface of the glass. Minor manufacturing imperfections such as straw marks, bubbles, or swirls add "character". However, any damages beyond that -- cracks, big chips, abrasions, etc. -- seriously degrade value. Be sure to describe in detail all damage and imperfections. Regarding manufacturer's markings, the Cnx "horseshoe" shaped marking often found on globes is the Corning trademark.
Locks: (see locks page)
manufacturer's markings
railroad markings (initials preceding "RR" or "Ry")
brass construction versus steel
any damage, rust or significant corrosion
surface polished or abraded?
key present
"dust cover" spring works

Patina is important in locks, especially brass locks. Polished surfaces are generally a detriment to value. Abraded (wire-brushed) surfaces are worse.
Paper: (see paper page)
railroad name
type of item: brochure, public timetable, etc.
any damage: tears, yellowing, fragility, glue stains, rusty stapes
dimensions of the item
any dates or date indications

Identifying the specific railroad heritage of paper items is usually not a problem since names are usually clear and spelled out. However, determining dates can be difficult, since these were sometimes omitted or hidden on some paper items such as brochures. Look for tiny numbers indicating dates at the bottom of pages or map illustrations. Also, text can sometimes give a good indication of the approximate time period in which the item was produced.
Other metal items
manufacturer's markings
railroad markings (initials preceding "RR" or "Ry")
type of metal if known
any damage

For builders plates, collectors prefer to keep the back of the plate in the original, unpolished state as an indication of authenticity. Therefore a photo and description of this feature is important.

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