A&S to auction 65-year collection of railroad, Old West antiques March 10-11 in Waco, Texas A remarkable 2,000-pc. collection of 19th/early 20th C. railroad antiques amassed over a 65-year period will be auctioned March 10-11 in Waco, TX. Its owner worked for Union Pacific for 40+ years.
News-Antique.com - Feb 01,2012 - WACO, Texas – There is no more enduring symbol of how the Old West became part of the New World than the American railroad, with its steam-powered “iron horses” that linked East to West. It is the lifelong fascination with early trains and the culture that surrounded them that inspired the late Roy Gay’s 65-year collection of railroadiana, which will be auctioned in its entirety on March 10-11. A&S Antique Auction Co., specialists in Western Americana, will conduct the sale of the approximately 2,000-piece single-owner collection at its Waco, Texas gallery, with Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com.
“Mr. Gay, who passed away on January 11th of this year, gave his whole working life of 40-plus years to the Union Pacific Railroad. He was an auditor for the company and traveled a three-state region in the course of his job, so that opened all the necessary doors to acquire railroad relics. When a depot closed down, he would know about it and be in a position to buy the pieces he wanted,” said A&S’s owner Scott Franks.
Roy Gay’s collection of lanterns, railroad advertising signs, tableware, tinware, whiskey crocks and literally anything else that would have been part of a train journey from the late 19th- through mid-20th centuries grew to such size that an unusual step was taken.
“This was the worst case of a passionate collector I’ve ever seen,” Franks said with a chuckle. “When he retired, Mr. Gay bought the old railway station at Troup, Texas, and literally had it moved to his East Texas farm. Later, Mr. Gay spent $35,000 to restore the station, which is where he displayed his remarkable collection.”
Most of the items Gay collected are from the “golden era” of railroads – the 1880s through middle “teens” – with a smattering of later objects whose timeline ends around the 1970s.
The Waco auction gallery’s walls are a spectacle to behold with the massive sub-collection of approximately 160 railroad lanterns now on display. Many of the lanterns have green, ruby and amber colored glass panels; while a few were made with richly hued cobalt-blue glass. Franks noted that most are signal or switch-type lanterns made by Dietz or other manufacturers. Each is marked with the name of an American railroad.
Additionally, there are some very scarce inspectors lanterns with matching IDs on the casing and globe components, and one particularly rare presentation lantern. The grouping also includes many as eight brass firemen’s lanterns, which have a distinctive shape and large, rolled handles that prevented the user’s hands from getting burned.
“The lanterns will be accessible to every level of collector,” said Franks. “Their book values range from $50 to $700 apiece.”
Franks predicts crossover competition from antique advertising collectors for the scores of old railroad signs in the Gay collection. Highlights include a beautiful, all-original circa 1890-1930 MKT porcelain sign, conservatively estimated at $2,000-$3,000; and a 36-inch-diameter “buzzsaw” sign, referring to its serrated edges, which advertises Texas Pacific Lines on one side and Missouri