Model ”Camelback“ Steam Engine

Value (2012) | $10,000 Auction

It's a handmade replica of a camelback locomotive that the New Jersey Central Railroad used to use. And it was given to my grandfather by a gentleman who was a prisoner. And my grandfather met him through the Knights of Columbus. They used to go to the prisons and they'd, you know, introduce themselves. And he was a general foreman over here in East Hartford, Connecticut.


He was down here for about five years, and he built up quite a relationship with this gentleman. They used to talk about the train all the time. And when my grandfather got sent back to Providence, Rhode Island, the gentleman told him he had something he wanted to give him before he left, and this was it.

This is really incredible. And you also told me that you're fourth generation...

Fourth generation railroad, yes. The tender is a cigar box, and the boiler is a birch log that the man altered to do what he had to do.

So it was on the basis of your grandfather's relationship and friendship with this man that this came into being.

Right, right.

There's a lot of history that's encoded into these things. We've got kind of a document of the history of railroads here. And the other thing which is interesting that I have a little bit of perspective on, the history of prisoner art, which goes back to the 18th century with French prisoners who were in Dartmoor Prison and who had, obviously, a lot of time on their hands and made the most intricate kinds of toys and mechanical things. I would think on the auction market, it would have an estimate of somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000, and if you got a couple of railroad fans in there, it could go significantly higher.

Very good.

Appraisal Details

New York, NY
Update (2012)
$10,000 Auction
Appraised value (1998)
$6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
Hartford, CT (August 22, 1998)
20th Century

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