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Among antique collectors, historical paper is often referred to with the term "ephemera". According to Wikipedia, "Ephemera is transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day."
Vast quantities of paper or ephemera were produced by the railroads -- a general overview is provided on our paper page. However, not all of this is of equal interest to collectors. Some categories of railroad ephemera such as timetables and passes have become the focus of specialized collectors and have achieved values to match. However, other types of paper are still relatively inexpensive and are often passed over by collectors. Given the wide range of different types of railroad paper, some of it is even difficult to classify.
Therein lies an opportunity for collectors who like authentic artifacts of railroad history but are operating on a limited budget. For example, waybills, receipts, shipper's statements, cancelled checks, and other transitory, commercial documents can be quite ornate and historical, yet do not typically carry the hefty price tags found on the more popular paper items such as timetables and passes.
Shown below are some interesting examples of railroad ephemera. Photo's are courtesy of Don Kosur (thanks, Don!) and the RRO collection. Click on any image for a larger version. Use your BACK button to return.