collecting embraces such a diverse field of interest and
prices that there should be something to collect for
everyone. The top price for a nameplate is over £60,000 and
you can buy a luggage label for a few pence so there is a
collecting area available for all pockets. The picture above
shows Collectors Corner at Euston Station where you could
purchase Railway items as they were replaced by BR. Sadly
this has now closed and you are left with the choice of
trying to buy items privately or via Auction. As a beginner
I would advise against using general Internet Auctions as
they often sell
fakes and replicas. Specialist Auctions such as ours vet
all items and will not sell items unless they are genuine.
collectors start with local items items from places they
visited on holiday or perhaps Loco items from trains spotted
in their youth so nostalgia tends to rule the roost.
is not cheap but is readily available so starting a
collection is not difficult. I would advise that you decide
on a theme for a collection and then focus your efforts in
that area. I feel that railway enamels form a good starting
point as all collections seem to end up with a good
selection of enamel signs in them.
start at about £80 for a 24" x 18" split station sign to
£200 plus for a southern railway target, £250+ for a station
totem and into the thousands for an early company marked
sign or a BR enamel with an evocative name.
general rule with enamels is the smaller and more
displayable they are the more expensive they become and
particularly so if they carry a company or place name.
Enamel running in boards can be picked up fairly cheaply as
they can be up to 10 foot long but they can look very
dramatic if you have the space to display them.
Very popular at the
moment are BR enamel Doorplates which can make a very
displayable collection as they are only 18" long and come in
the six regional colours. Prices have increased recently and
you may have to pay around £200 for the most common sign
which just says PRIVATE.
The top end of the Railwayana market is
dominated by locomotive nameplates, with the most expensive
being from the era of steam - but modern traction plates are
becoming increasingly popular. Brass loco plates can look
most spectacular in a collection but can hurt the wallet,
with the cheapest being a Hall nameplate from about £4,000
or a Jubilee from about £7,000. The highest price achieved
in auction is over £60,000! Other classes can be obtained for
anything between these prices with scarcity and the quality
of the name deciding the price. There are plenty of
nameplates available if you have the cash, so decide what
you want and can afford before you splash out as plates are
far easier to buy than to sell. The market has dropped
recently and this may be a good time to buy.
from modern traction locomotives split into two groups the
earlier locomotives remembered by the steam brigade and the
later ones, many of which are still running. Prices of the
earlier nameplates vary from about £20,000 for a Deltic
brass plate and £7,000 - £10,000 for an early Western set.
Modern plates from locos such as Class 47s go for about
£3,000 + and stainless steel reflective plates for around
Other loco items are SMOKEBOX NUMBERPLATES
priced between £300 for a common GWR tank engine to £3,000+
for a mainline named locomotive.
WORKSPLATES in brass, cast iron and aluminium were carried
by most locomotives from the earliest of days and go for
anything between £50 to £5,000+. Diesel Worksplates have
become very popular over the past few years and as a result
the prices have increased dramatically.
CABSIDE NUMBERPLATES, which are made of Cast iron or brass
sell at between £300 for a humble workhorse to £8,000+ for
The most affordable loco
items are SHEDPLATES which were carried on the Smokebox door
in BR days to show the home shed and will cost from £50 to
£500+. You will pay more for an unrestored plate. Beware -
they are easy to produce and can fetch quite high prices so
there are many thousands of fakes in circulation.
collected station signs are totems as they are a convenient
size (36 x 10 inches), come in a choice of 6 colours, and
every name has a connection for someone. These have also
increased in price recently. You can get an indication of
whether a totem exists for your Station and. if so, what
price each might fetch. This can be viewed in our
Totem Guide Section.
Railway targets are not in the same league as Totems as they
only come in one colour and many are from London suburban
stations. Even so the top price is over £4000. Some LMS
stations also carried aluminium target shaped signs called
Hawkseyes. These also fail to excite the collector as much
as totems. Originally the surface had small pieces of glass
in the paint to reflect the station lights but many have now
been restored and have lost this originality.
Another very popular area of collecting is
that of cast iron signs. These can date back to the early
days of the railways and there are an enormous range of
types from pre and post grouping railway companies. Signs
vary significantly in size and can be very heavy but they
do have the advantage of being able to be displayed in the
garden! Prices range from £50 for a common untitled sign to
£3000+ for rare one off examples.
For more aesthetically pleasing items
carriage prints fill the bill with almost certain permission
to display in the living room. Carriage prints look best
displayed in original frames or original type replica frames
with prices ranging from £20 for unframed common prints to
£800+ for the rarest. As with any work of art only buy if
you like the picture!
the category of decorative household items are Railway
Posters. They come in two main sizes to match station posterboards i.e. double royal (40 x 25) and quadroyal
(40 x 50). Posters can be preserved by putting on canvas
or by laminating to a backboard but the most sought after,
and valuable, are unfolded and in good original condition.
Prices depend on rarity and image and range from £10 to
£5,000+ - letterpress only posters are always much cheaper.
Posters are best framed and glazed but the quad royal
varieties can become very heavy so plastic is often a better
option than glass.
collections have a railway clock in them. These come in all
shapes and sizes with the smaller ones generally fetching
item for Railwayana collectors are jigsaw puzzles. Wooden
puzzles were made by Chad Valley for the GWR for advertising
signalling has a wide diversity of collectible items ranging
from signal box diagrams, nameboards and instruments to
single line keys and staffs. An item that most of us buy
when we start collecting is a track side signal arm. These
tend to be sold a little later on once you appreciate their
size and I would caution you to delay this purchase. Signal
box instruments and single line keys and staffs are the most
popular with collectors, and prices range from £50 to £500+.
railways were lit by paraffin and gas lamps and the variety
is enormous. Station lampposts with the lamp displaying the
station name, or a totem or target below, were on many
stations and remained there until replaced by fluorescent
lights with the name on the cover. Both the lampposts and
lamps are sought after, particularly early ones, with
lampposts costing from £100 to £500+ and the lamps from £50
upwards. Railway workers used Handlamps and all trains also
carried paraffin lamps on the front and rear so enormous
numbers were made. These are now collectible particularly
with plates bearing company names and locations. Prices can
range from £20 for a common British Railways Handlamp to
many thousands for a rare example such as from the Somerset
and Dorset Railway.
main railways had hotels, station dining rooms and dining
cars and these were equipped with silverware and crockery
generally marked with the company name. A large number of
items have survived and these can be attractively displayed
in a cabinet or made use of on the dining room table. Prices
vary relative to condition and scarcity with most being
fairly attainable. Try to purchase china items with no
damage and silverware in good original un-replated condition.
tickets have always been collected and continue to be so
even in current times. There are specialist ticket auctions,
the main seller being Great Central Railwayana Auctions
ticket auctions where rare & common tickets can be obtained.
Again prices vary from a few pence to many hundreds of
alternative to tickets are luggage labels. Printed on thin
paper they had company names and covered all stations in
Britain and Ireland it is therefore possible to focus a
collection on a particular company or area. Prices range
from a few pence to £2+
furniture came from both platforms with items such as
station benches, and from the booking office/station
masters house with cabinets, tables and chairs, etc. A
bench can cost from £200 to £1,000+ and they can make a
functional addition to the garden. Other furniture items
tend to be priced according to the company name marked on it
and its functionality and attractiveness in the home
workers on the railway had badges both of cloth and metal
and these still exist in great variety. These have the
advantage of being easy to display in a small cabinet.
Prices are generally in the £5 to £100 region and so are
area of manageable items are buttons, which were company
marked and survive in great numbers. A useful book on this
topic is Railway buttons, badges & uniform by David J
Froggart which although out of print can be obtained second
not an exhaustive survey, but does give a flavour of the
wide variety of interests that are covered by the broad
description of Railwayana collecting. If you want more
information on any items then visit our
Collectors Guides which give helpful information regarding the various
categories of Railwayana.
Best of luck Railwayana
collecting is a very satisfying, if at times a little