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Thread: Seeking info/advice about REALLY cool old (1870s) RR items

  1. Default Seeking info/advice about REALLY cool old (1870s) RR items

    Hello! I'm hoping someone out there can give me some information and advice on this collection I have stumbled across.

    My first question is how much I can expect to get for these items on Ebay? My second question is, do you think this stuff has any historical importance, and if it does, where would be the best place to donate it to? You see, if it really isn't worth THAT much (probably less than $250), I would like to donate it to a museum or give it to the descendants. If its worth $250 or more, I'd probably want to sell it.

    You will NOT hurt my feelings by telling me it's not worth that much and/or no one is interested in this type of collection!!!

    Items are related to the Eames Vaccum Brake Co. Most items are from the 1870s-1890s.

    (I've learned about the owner of this company, Frederick Eames. Eames & his company have an interesting history which includes lawsuits and murder. )


    Two original patents issued for locomotive brakes from the 1880s.
    book: "Eames Vacuum Brake" descriptive catalog. 1877. 40 pages, with lots of fold-out illustrations.
    book: Eames Vaccum Brake" 1881. also lots of fold out illustrations.
    Two letters from Frederick Eames to his brother.
    A photograph of Frederick (or his brother).
    A few other items, including envelopes with the Eames letterhead and envelopes addressed to Eames from the 1870s.

    Thanks in advance for any advice! I realize it is probably hard to estimate how much something like this may be worth, so if you could just give a ROUGH estimate, or maybe just how much interest there would be in these type of items, then I'd be in a better position to decide what I wanted to do.
    Last edited by susan in CA; 02-18-2009 at 01:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Cypress (Houston), Texas, USA


    Honestly, altho EBay is a good reference for selling points, articles this old are unlikely to have anything comparable on EBay.

    You can always list them and set a ridiculously high reserve.....borderline unethical imho, but you can always remove the reserve when it gets high enough. What you don't want to do is list them with NO reserve.

    If there is a friendly museum around with a transportation section, you might have them give a ballpark valuation. You have enough material to create a unique collection of Eames material. You might also contact various transportation-specific museums not in your area and correspond via email and digital photos. California has a goodly number of rail and transport-related museums, and if not California, the USA is full of 'em.

    A web/google/etc search of Eames might turn up some relatives but that can be exhausting. Mercifully they weren't named Smith.

    Good quality photos are going to be required in any case, so either do some yourself or have a talented friend lend a hand to get some high resolution shots, including details. Don't settle for just one shot of each pice. Include front, backs, all pages, etc. Be honest about any defects and let your photos do your explaining.

    good luck, and we would love to see some of those pics here.
    More pics in Kenw's Gallery

    Have you broken any rules today? .....why not?

  3. Default

    Dear Ken:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and very helpful response. Great advice! I appreciate your time.

    It has been great learning about railroad history and the Eames connection to it. Its such an interesting story and I'm thrilled to have a piece of that history. Uh oh, I better stop before I'm no longer willing to part with this stuff!

    Here are some photos. First, there are two catalogs from the Eames Vaccuum Brake Company from the 1880s. Each has lots of diagrams and illustrations, and many "pull out" pages. Here's one of the catalogs & an illustration:

    There are two original patents issued to Elisha Eames, one for "Locomotive brakes" and one for "Ejector for Vacuum Brakes".

    There are personal letters to Elisha Eames from his brother Fredereck W. on company letterhead, also a booklet "Westinghouse vs. Eames":

    There are various books, all with an inscription by or to an Eames. Including his wife's Bible with lots of handwritten notes, a prayer book belonging to the wife, "Railroads of Peru" (1873), "Effect of Brakes Upon Railway Trains" (1894).

    By the way, here's a photo of Elisha:

    There's also a first edition of Jack London's "Call of the Wild" that belonged to Elisha's wife, I'll definitely keep that for myself!

    Thanks again for your help, Susan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Montesano/Tacoma, WA


    I would check with railroadiana websites
    Long Live Logging Lokeys!

  5. Default


    I noticed that you maybe in California. If so if you looking to donate you items try contacting the California State Railroad Museum located in old Sacramento. The link is http://www.californiastaterailroadmuseum.org to find out how to contact them. There's also a lot more information about the museum.

    Good luck!!

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