June, 1999

The Process of cataloging

California dealer, John Heleva was in Denver for the Collector’s Extravaganza in June, and we chatted for awhile about the lack of new certificates appearing on the market. Truth be told, I had never noticed. I always have such a backlog of catalogs and submittals to go through, that I’m constantly finding new items. That is not to say I don’t get a tired of seeing some of the same old certificates. But I try to keep the process fresh by always looking for new varieties. Show dealers like John, on the other hand, absolutely need to find new certificates to keep their customers happy.

Two of the new certificates John showed me were from the Campbells Creek RR of West Virginia. Even though they were both generic certificates, one look told me they were new. Yet I still had to check my database to be absolutely sure. So what is the process?

One of the rarest of the rare – a certificate for 580 shares of Credit Mobilier (about a quarter of the company) made out to the Union Pacific and signed by Jay Gould as president! See an excellent color copy in Time-Life's The Railroaders. That certificate came from the UP collection and I've yet to see one offered for sale.

First, I check to see if I’ve ever listed the railroad before. If not, I record the company name, the state of incorporation, and assign it a new number. If I already have the company in my database, I next check to see if any of my descriptions match the certificate I’m examining. But let me digress a moment.

In general, I try to work with some sort of image. It might be a photocopy that someone has sent. Or it might be a photo in an auction catalog, or maybe even a book like the certificate above. Unless I can see the item, I generally assume it is something I’ve already cataloged.

If the certificate I’m examining is new, everything is easy. I give it a new number and describe it in detail.

On the other hand, if I already have a description that matches the certificate, I try to add details I overlooked in the past. For instance, I might add capitalization amounts, or par values, or the printed portions of dates. This is the most important trick in keeping the process enjoyable.

It is hard to add new details to super-common pieces, but I can find new details about 50% of the certificates I see. About 5% of the time, I need to consult my photocopies or photos in Smythe, Winslow, Centennial, LaBarre, and Yatchman catalogs to confirm whether items are really new varieties or old items with poor descriptions.

And, of course, I encounter problematical certificates that I originally described from small-dealer catalogs or old and obscure sources that I’ve somehow lost in my sporadic cleaning frenzies. Consequently, I have not corrected all poor descriptions.

Cornelius Commodore Vanderbilt at about age 57. From a woodcut in the Illustrated News, Apr. 2, 1853.

Using this approach, I’ve managed to add 272 new items in the last three months. And believe me, a lot of new items came from collectors who didn’t think they were helping.

So let me say it again, (and picture me on my knees, pleading!), I need auction catalogs. I need pricelists from practically every dealer who published one. (For instance, I currently only have four of Ken Prag’s lists.) And I need EVERY 81/2x11 black and white photocopy you can send. Want to talk with me in person? Call me at 303-421-0185 during the day and 303-567-2778 in the evenings.

Write or e-mail and I’ll send you a list of every reference I’ve used so far. I figure I currently have photocopies for only about 20% of the known certificates. In others words, if you have more than a handful of certificates, there is almost a 100% chance that I need copies of something you have! And even among my existing photocopies, I need better copies of many.

272 NEW CERTIFICATES in the last 3 months

1st Edition Currently New!
Number of railroads and railroad-related companies known 17,276 19,109 1,833
Number of companies for which at least one certificate is known 3,516 3,918 402
Number of certificates listed (counting all variants of issued, specimens, etc.) 8,559 10,085 1,526
Number of distinct certificates known 7,152 8,319 1,167
Number of published listings modified in some manner by new information 1,847
Number of celebrity autographs known 232 283 51
Number of certificates with celebrity autographs 699 798 99

Railroads Represented by Other Paper

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that I was tracking the various rail lines represented by paper collectibles other than stocks and bonds. Several collectors responded, including a few with huge lists. Altogether, the list of those items grew by 981 items in the last three months. I

Last time Currently
Passes 34 395
Tickets 0 36
Currency/Scrip 161 167
Checks/Warrants 157 735

PEN-831 Penobscot & Kennebec

Some clarity is finally emerging among the confusing bonds of this road. Please send 8½ x 11 copies if you have any bond not listed here.

   PEN-831 Penobscot & Kennebec Bonds
1853 farmers (state seal?), no other details $1,000 B-30
1854 no vignette
...United States of America across top $1.000 B-40
...State of Maine top center above state seal ...
......... and ornamental panel left $1,000 B-35
......... and text panel left with space for trustees sigs $1,000 B-36
" $2,000 B-45
1855 State of Maine and denomination counter top left $500 B-56
" $1.000 B-57
train (correct? date), no other details $100 B-55
1856 State of Maine top center above train $200 B-60

Electric locomotive #01 from part of a vignette that appears on bonds of the New York New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co.


When I first started this project back in 1991, my main sources of company names were Railroad Names by William Edson and Railroads of North America by Joseph Gross. Together, those two books contributed 11,134 names. While Gross labeled most companies as RR or Ry, his original sources were not completely reliable. Edson avoided the accuracy problem by not labeling his companies. Consequently, I originally compiled names without the RR and Ry monikers. Since then, I changed my mind. So, in the last couple of years, I’ve labeled just under 8,000 companies. Unfortunately, I still have roughly 10,000 names yet to confirm. I can, however, see a reliable pattern emerging:

"RR" "Ry"
United States 62% 38%
Canada 11% 89%

Yes, Railway can be abbreviated as either Ry or Rwy. I chose the shorter abbreviation by its appearance on the side of a logging locomotive tender that just happened to appear on my wall calendar at the time.

Dow Jones Averages

In the same week in May, two different people asked whether particular companies had ever been part of the Dow Jones averages. While Charles Dow’s “Dow Dozen” began in 1884, the official Industrial Average did not start until May, 1896. Later in that same year, Dow began publishing his Railroad Average.

Over the years, the composition of the 20 stocks that made up the DJRA changed constantly with mergers and financial fortunes. Up until 1968, when Northwest Industries filled the gap created by the Pennsylvania/New York Central merger, every company had been a railroad or a diversified descendent of one. However, within two years, ten companies were non-railroads and Dow Jones changed the name to the Transportation Average. Today, only four railroad companies remain, Burlington, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific, plus the tank car giant, GATX.
Here are all the companies that have appeared in the DJTA. An “x” in the right-hand column means some sort of certificate from that company is currently known.

Catalog# Dates Company Certs?
ATC-786 1896-1968 Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Ry Co x
ATL-427 1928-1967 Atlantic Coast Line RR Co x
BAL-662 1901-1965 Baltimore & Ohio RR Co x
BOS-514 1943-1949 Boston & Maine RR x
BRO-728 1899-1912 Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co x
BUR-478 1970-present Burlington Northern Inc x
CAN-387 1902-1988 Canadian Pacific Ry Co x
CEN-186 1896-1902 Cental RR Co of New Jersey x
CHE-476 1896-1902 Chesapeake & Ohio Ry Co x
CHE-476 1914-1970 Chesapeake & Ohio Ry Co x
CHE-622 1971-1980 Chessie System Inc x
CHI-086 1896-1902 Chicago Burlington & Quincy RR Co x
CHI-440 1896-1928 Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul Ry Co x
CHI-444 1968-1969 Chicago Milwaukee St Paul & Pacific RR x
CHI-502 1896-1914 Chicago & North Western Ry Co x
CHI-502 1961-1968 Chicago & North Western Ry Co x
CHI-602 1951-1965 Chicago Rock Island & Pacific RR Co x
CHI-603 1896-1902 Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Ry Co x
CHI-603 1928-1935 Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Ry Co x
CLE-413 1896-1903 Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago & St Louis x
CON-629 1993-1997 Conrail Inc
CON-740 1987-1993 Consolidated Rail Corp
CSX-500 1980-present CSX Corp
DEL-267 1902-1928 Delaware & Hudson Co x
DEL-267 1929-1957? Delaware & Hudson Co x
DEL-269 1957?-1968 Delaware & Hudson RR Corp x
DEL-312 1924-1933? Delaware & Lackawanna RR Co
DEL-317 1933?-1951 Delaware Lackawanna & Western RR Co x
DEN-667 1899-1904 Denver & Rio Grande RR Co preferred x
DEN-679 1965-1969 Denver & Rio Grande Western RR Co
ERI-055 1896-1899 Erie RR Co x
ERI-438 1905-1965 Erie - Lackawanna RR Co x
FLO-460 1969-1970 Florida East Coast Ry x
GAT-950 1998-present GATX Corp
GRE-123 1935-1970 Great Northern Ry Co preferred x
GUL-517 1967-1970 Gulf Mobile & Ohio RR Co x
ILL-079 1901-1929 Illinois Central RR Co x
ILL-079 1934-1964 Illinois Central RR Co x
ILL-100 1995-1998 Illinois Central Corp
ILL-120 1964-1970 Illinois Central Industries
INT-064 1896-1905 Interborough Rapid Transit?* x
KAN-690 1914-1924 Kansas City Southern Ry Co x
KAN-690 1952-1962 Kansas City Southern Ry Co x
KAN-693 1962-1970 Kansas City Southern Industries
LAK-635 1896-1898 Lake Shore Ry Co x
LEH-741 1912-1924 Lehigh Valley RR Co x
LOU-666 1896-1929 Louisville & Nashville RR Co x
LOU-666 1935-1971 Louisville & Nashville RR Co x
MET-700 1898-1899 Metropolitan Street Ry Co x
MET-700 1904-1906 Metropolitan Street Ry Co x
MIN-499 1902-1904 Minnesota & St Louis RR Co x
MIS-716 1896-1902 Missouri Kansas & Texas Ry Co preferred x
MIS-807 1976-1982 Missouri Pacific Corp x
MIS-815 1929-1935 Missouri Pacific RR Co x
MIS-815 1968-1970 Missouri Pacific RR Co class A x
MIS-820 1896-1914 Missouri Pacific Ry Co x
NEW-161 1914-1943 New Haven RR Co
NEW-530 1896-1968 New York Central RR Co x
NEW-555 1929-1964 New York Chicago & St Louis RR Co x
NEW-688 1949-1961 New York New Haven & Hartford RR Co x
NEW-712 1897-1898 New York Ontario & Western Ry Co x
NEW-794 1896-1897 New York Susquehanna & Western RR x
NOR-051 1982-present Norfolk Southern Corp x
NOR-080 1899-1900 Norfolk & Western Ry Co preferred x
NOR-080 1905-1982 Norfolk & Western Ry Co common x
NOR-790 1899-1901 Northern Pacific Ry Co preferred x
NOR-790 1905-1952 Northern Pacific Ry Co common x
PEN-168 1969-1969 Penn Central Corp x
PEN-316 1901-1960? Pennsylvania RR Co x
PEN-317 1960?-1969 Pennsylvania Co x
PER-050 1928-1934 Pere Marquette Ry Co x
REA-300 1896-1899 Reading x
REA-300 1902-1928 Reading x
RIO-340 1969-1970 Rio Grande Industries
RIO-340 1982-1984 Rio Grande Industries
ROC-355 1912-1914 Rock Island Co x
SAN-899 1968-1983 Santa Fe Industries
SEA-109 1965-1967 Seaboard Air Line RR Co
SEA-143 1967-1969 Seaboard Coast Line RR Co x
SEA-145 1969-1979 Seaboard Coast Line Industries x
SOU-479 1896-1901 Southern Ry Co preferred x
SOU-479 1901-1982 Southern Ry Co x
SOU-733 1900-1901 Southern Pacific RR Co x
SOU-733 1904-1983 Southern Pacific RR Co x
SOU-774 1983-1995 Southern Pacific & Santa Fe Ry?**
STL-808 1964-1980 St Louis - San Francisco Ry Co x
STL-857 1924-1928 St Louis Southwestern Ry Co x
TEX-569 1928-1929 Texas & Pacific Ry Co x
TWI-636 1906-1912 Twin City (Rapid Transit?)*** x
UNI-284 1969-present Union Pacific Corp x
UNI-286 1898-1905 Union Pacific RR Co preferred x
UNI-286 1900-1969 Union Pacific RR Co common x
WAB-083 1896-1900 Wabash RR Co preferred x
WAB-083 1904-1905 Wabash RR Co preferred x
WES-799 1965-1970 Western Pacific RR Corp

Key to the chart above
*   = listed by Dow Jones as "Manhattan Elevated"
**   = listed by Dow Jones as "Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corp"
***   = listed by Dow Jones as "Twin City." Question marks following som dates mean that I do not know the precise years a name change took place. Please help if you can.

A few railroad-related companies have appeared in the more popular Dow Jones Industrial Average. Here are the ones I know of. Be warned, though, that I’ve not researched the DJIA in great detail. Please correct my oversights.

Catalog# Dates Company Certs?
AME-083 1901-1928 American Car & Foundary Co x
AME-375 1916-1928 American Locomotive Co x
BAL-147 1916-1925 Baldwin Locomotive Works x
GEN-052 1928-1930 General Railway Signal Corp
TEN-263 1896-1907 Tennessee Coal Iron & RR Co x

If you want to know about the composition of the DJIA or DJTA on any specific date since 1896, visit the Dow Jones web site at averages.dowjones.com.

A beautiful Porter & Co. locomotive I chopped from an old magazine advertisement.

The question that kicked off this “rabbit-track” expedition was whether the North American Company had been part of the Dow Dozen. The company was an original member, but it was an electric utility holding company. I would not be surprised to learn that it had operated streetcar or traction lines, but I’ve seen no confirmation of that.

The longest-running railroad company on the Dow list is the Union Pacific. and it has appeared continuously since 1898. It was part of the Dow Dozen in 1884. Counting descendants, the AT&SF was on the list for 101 years, the SP for 92 years, the Southern for 86 years and the NYC/PC for 79 years. The T&P was only on the list about a year.