This Loco is an example of a Replica as it mimics the original version but makes no attempt to deceive.

With such a large quantity of Railwayana in circulation there are certain to be many replicas, fakes and forgeries doing the rounds. I see the 3 categories as:-


An item made to be as close a copy of an original as possible but not produced to deceive and generally marked in some way to show that it is not the original. Many people have these made as they cannot afford the real thing, for example you can get a superb enamelled fully flanged totem made for about £300 when the real thing could cost £5000. These items are generally easy to spot due to their lack of wear. When purchasing Railwayana the back is generally more revealing than the front and you should never buy any Railwayana hardware without looking at the back. If the front looks new and the rear has been painted you may be moving into the realm of forgery. A variety of manufacturers produced many Worksplates to order with the most famous being a brass North British Railway "1947 No 26094" which turns up on a very regular basis.  Smokebox Numberplates are relatively easy to make and many copies have been produced – often by preserved Railways. When buying this sort of item provenance is a great help and so is nice ex loco condition.

Hint -  The back says more than the front.


An item made to look as if it has railway connections but in fact not being a copy of a real relic. The most common of these is the GWR candle lamp. You see them everywhere and they have a brass plate “GWR” prominently on them. They are however a flimsy copy of an item that never existed and are practically worthless. Another common one is a small brass plate Great Western Railway giving instructions about greasing nipples and another brass plate from the LMS dated 1865! Re the use of water closets.

Hint -  Is an item durable enough to have been for Railway use and would the Railways have needed such an item?


An item made to deceive – this may start out as a replica and then be worked on to give it age or it may be deliberately made in order to deceive. In either case these items can be more difficult to spot. These often appear on the market at a price that is too good to be true so beware of something that seems a bargain unless you have good provenance. The most common items that are forged are Shedplates. These are inexpensive to make and with rare ones making four figure sums there is a temptation to deceive for a good profit. There are ways to recognise a forgery but I will not give them here as it would help the criminals who are producing them. If you have any doubts as to one you have been offered you can send in a picture of the front and back to [email protected] and I will give you my opinion. The vendors often say they know nothing of Railwayana but it was in their granddads shed wrapped in old newspaper! If buying from Ebay be especially careful as you cannot examine the plate before you pay for it.

If you buy from a reputable source such as the main Auctions you are usually safe as specialist Railwayana Auction houses generally have a good knowledge of the subject. You also have an easy way to get your money back if not satisfied.

Hint -  Be prepared to seek advice from experienced collectors.


The Specialist Railwayana auctions vet all items carefully and do their best to ensure that relics are genuine. Many records are kept and these can be referred to when an item is offered. After the auction you have 7-14 days to return your purchase if you have strong evidence of forgery. The non specialist auctions will generally enter any item offered to them and leave it up to the buyer to decide if an item is right so buyer beware. On ebay there are many genuine items but also many sold to deceive as the seller can describe his Railwayana however he wishes and there are no checks.  I can warn you from experience that if you are sold something that turns out to be a fake if you have paid the seller and he refuses to deal with you there will be no assistance available and your only comeback would be a costly legal action brought by you personally against the vendor. If you have a good item to sell you would be best advised to use the Specialist auctions as the price on ebay is generally lower to allow for the risk factor. Many items you see purchased on ebay later turn up at Specialist auctions and go for a higher price.

Hint – Buy from specialist auctions if you are not an experienced collector.

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