October 2010 Article

This Month's Article - October 2010 
Collectibles of the Nelson & Albemarle Railway
Paper or Metal, Ticket or Salesman's Sample, there's lot's out there
While there isn't a museum housing any Nelson & Albemarle Railway artifacts, during the last two years, I've collected some N&A items that anyone could be searching out and purchasing.  I've been fortunate to acquire a signed letter from H. L. Lane and a ticket from a 1905 trip aboard the the mixed train from Alberene to Schuyler roundtrip.  Whether it be paper or metal, a ticket or just a salesman's sample, there are many items that can put a bright spot into anyones collection.   We share some of those items here so that you can enjoy the history and memory of the Nelson & Albemarle Railway and the various soapstone companies.  There are also some good collectibles that feature many of the local merchants of the area.  The range of items goes from tokens used in the Alberene company store to stock certificates and postcards.  So for anyone wanting to have a bit of the N&A to display, there is much to learn about the variety of paper, metal, and stone relics that come up for sale either on eBay or other auction sites.  My first items of note are stock certificates and while I don't own any myself, they do come up for sale every so often and usually bring top dollar due to their rarity.  Starting with the Alberene Railroad, a predecessor to the N&A, stock certificates can be found on Worth.com or other sites where high-dollar paper makes it's way into collector's hands.  A couple of years ago, a Nelson & Albemarle Railway stock certificate was found on eBay.  @@  What is more affordable are N&A tickets for passenger travel on the line.  Within my own collection is a ticket from 1905 recently acquired through auction.  Tickets varied over the years and I'm showing a couple of different years here including 1936 where the ticket is definitely advanced over the individually signed tickets of the early years on the line.  It's quite impressive that the early tickets or round-trip passes were individually signed when sold and also countersigned!  All handwritten, these must have created a difficult process for the railroad to maintain.  The back of each ticket contained a set of conditions and exemptions for the railroad. Left in the book alongside the ticket was the pass check.  Also of interest and published in one of the various books referencing the Nelson & Albemarle was a copy of the School Train ticket stub.  The stub copy shown here as exerpted from "An Upcountry Romance: A reminiscence of the Nelson & Albemarle Railway" by H. Reid in Steam Locomotive & Railroad Tradition, Number 13-14 of May 1963 along side of the title to the article.  The next ticket of interest is the Nelson & Albemarle Railway Co. of September 3rd, 1936 from Rockfish, Virginia to Bridgeport, Virginia as noted in the text of the ticket "From STATION STAMPED ON BACK to Station Opposite Point in Margin below - GOOD FOR ONE PASSAGE"  Again there are conditions noted, but by 1936 the signature of ticket #12649 is printed instead of being signed individually.  Note the 15 station stops along the line now printed at the bottom of the ticket: Rockfish, Hamilton, Bridgeport, Fostoria, Schuyler, Ruffin, Damon, Melvale - Warren, Boiling Springs, Dawson, Esmont, Guthrie.  @@  Another item that was recently seen on eBay was individual tokens from the company store at Alberene.  Obviously made from different metals, these tokens were not legal tender and contained the signature of H. L. Lane on the reverse stamping.  The next 'token' that might be found is the 'salesman's sample' which would be a round metal plate attached to a round or rectangular piece of soapstone.    @@    Being an ongoing industry, advertising took on more importance and every opportunity was taken to make an advantage of this for the company.  The envelopes used to make mailings had a nice representation of a soapstone sink and one is shown here.  Again, this is one of those items that adds to your collection.  There are also envelopes with advertising on them that would be nice to add to a collection of memorabilia.   Next there are postcards and while too numerous to mention all of the ones that were ever printed, many of these, including those from businesses and attractions in the area, show up on eBay or other auction sites ever so often.  I've noted many of the paper collectibles, but one not mentioned yet is film.  Original and duplicate negatives and slides will show up on eBay and usually sell for just a few dollars.  In addition, 
prints from the N&A can be found at RR collectibles shows or at auction.  Some of these prints, like those from photographer, H. Reid, were made into postcards and these are excellent additions to a collection.  @@  The Nelson & Albemarle Railway also had typewritten timetables of which 2 are known to be in existence.  One is shown here in reduced format,  though originally typed onto an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper.  In the John P. Vander Mass Railroadiana Collection held in the library at the University of Iowa, is a 1 page mimeographed timetable dated January 12, 1944.  A copy of this can be received digitally for $9US.  See the reference in Find the N&A on these Websites under the reference year, 1944.  The photocopy shown is from the website, http://www.rr-fallenflags.org and is timetable #38 from August 29, 1947.  The image is copyrighted by the site and is shown here for reference only.  @@  Rounding out my collectibles page are two items I treasure greatly.  A 1907 letter from H. L. Lane to S. H. Purcell in Schuyler mentioning issues with joint agency at the Rockfish station.  Obviously folded many times and likely stored poorly over the years,
this letter was acquired at auction and yet it really needs to be part of the overall collection of corporate correspondence held by the library at the University of Virginia covering the early years of the Nelson & Albemarle Railway.
  Lastly, there is my Father's pay envelope from June 1-15, 1940.  A total of 80 hours paying $24. or 30 cents/hour.  Not a lot of money for 1940, but well paying for the Schuyler area.  There was 24 cents deducted for Social Security tax and another 25 cents for a doctor visit during the 2 week period.  With a company store on the premises, it's amazing that deductions didn't equal the amount of pay!  The back of the envelope espoused the need for avoiding accidents and helping the company keep money in your pocket by being careful at all times. @@  There are likely other areas of paper or photo collectibles that I've left out.  And while I mentioned film negatives, prints, and slides; not a lot of these are making there way into the duplicate print market (i.e.: not available for sale to others).  The goal has always been to identify where you could find items about the Nelson & Albemarle Railway to view or purchase and recent auction items have been acquired but prints from them will never be seen which caps the end of a print or negative making it's way into the hands of collectors or fans (i.e.: recent slide of N&A caboose will not have prints made and put up for sale on eBay).  You can help by making sure that you share what is in your collection and/or make prints available where you have purchased a negative or slide.  Other items, like my Father's pay envelope, are more personal and will not likely make it past the JPG image shown here.  Whatever the collectible, be it paper or metal, ticket or salesman's sample, having a part of the Nelson & Albemarle Railway helps remind you of the 60 years that small tank engines trundled back and forth between Schuyler and Esmont and Rockfish and Warren. 
Please note any comments on "This Month's Article" in the comments section of either the MAIN page or the sidebar archives section.   Copyright 2010 - Nelson & Albemarle Railway Historical Society.