TagTown - Fantasy / Misunderstood & last but not least Misrepresented Page

Fake - Fantasy you judge  Misunderstood  Misrepresented

Fakes are probably the worst problem you can encounter in any collecting hobby. In an effort to be politically correct I will make some observations and then let you come to your own conclusions.

It is my understanding that in the 1980s someone made some Fantasy patterned small brass shields. The Key Lock and Lantern "fake" page has a great explanation from Bill Pollard on the heritage of the M&NA tags: Key, Lock and lanterns fake page. I now believe that some shrewd individual knew that there was money to be made in these small fake tags and went whole hog into mass production on several others importing them from China. When I purchased a lot of these on an internet auction site, they came with a "MADE IN CHINA" label  It is easier for me to show you an image of some of these shields with some observations, and then state my concerns about their authenticity as legitimate baggage checks:

Any one of the above numbered issues makes me suspicious. All of these facts together lead me to believe that these cannot possibly be genuine. See the image below.
The check on the left is a pre 1869 Hoole. WES = Western RR (pre Boston & Albany). Note also that the NYC pre-dates the NYC&HR RR. The 2 checks to the right are the problem

Now for the bad news:

The Hall of Shame: note that line changes are designated by the "/" character
Who When Where What
Scott C. 2/28/1999 -------- M&NA / RAILROAD / MARSHALL ARK. / 307
Scott C. 2/28/1999 -------- SOUTHERN / RIO GRAND / PACIFIC / 239
Scott C. 2/28/1999 -------- HAMILTON / RAILROAD / STANDARD / 003
Ken S. 3/29/1999 84415306 SANTA FE / ROUTE / RAILROAD / 325
Scott C. 1/10/2000 223864258 9 stinking examples that follow
Scott C.
Scott C.
 Scott C.  12/14/2001

OK, now for the bad news... these things are being reproduced in quantity. On 1/10/2000 I received a package in the mail because I was the "high" bidder on a popular internet auction site. The seller made no pretense about these being old. however, as a purchaser of ten small brass shields on leather straps, what would I be doing but re-selling the stupid things? One person already emailed me asking if he could purchase one of these things...... what is it that P.T.Barnum said?
bad example with its leather strap intact
This brass shield has its original black leather strap attached. The clasp is well made and seems to be real brass. The tag itself is consistent with the "rough back" examples described above. Perhaps it is best that the market might be flooded with a road name that never even existed. At least this way anyone with any common sense would stay away from this sort of thing. Once these are "chemically" aged and sold individually, someone will be fooled.
A true hall of shame
Ok, there may be a silver lining here. These are so far fetched in terms of even suggesting that they might resemble something real. It's curious that a guy associated with a railroad museum tried to sell one of these things on a popular internet auction site and had the gumption to question "me" when I suggested that he had "crossed the line". He's still out there. Beware!

As of August, 2001 people on the worlds most popular auction site are still selling these pieces of junk to the public. Beware, they will continue to turn up as everyone becomes educated and attempts to shuffle them along to the next dupe!

Golden Spike National Historic Sight
Central Pacific Thomas check (to left)

This brass shield was created as part of a commemorative celebration of the Driving of the golden spike in Utah. The hallmark is a good example of what a "Thomas" patent should look like. Thank our lucky stars that someone had the good sense to incise this with the give away initials GSNHS. I tried to buy this example on an internet auction, however, I was outbid by someone I know who now wants me to trade something "real" for it. Sorry!

 Front of Union Pacific National Historic Site check. Note the odd use of the word Baggageman. The tag image has been enlarged for clarity
Reverse of the Union Pacific National Historic Site check. If someone milled off the back.... it might fool somebody out there. 

Misunderstood is an interesting category. I have two sources that have made a credible argument that the Central of Georgia Ry Co. tag that follows is really something worn by a day laborer on the docks of Savannah to ensure that they got credit for their "piece work". I would appreciate any further information on this subject. A photograph of someone actually wearing one of these would be ideal.
Central of Georgia - Rectangle

Note that the strap opening is a full inch and not the standard 11/16". This tag also has a commanding overall size of 2" by 3" making it substantially larger than all baggage checks with the exception of the Shell checks. The maker is E.J. Brooks NY, which is in the known makers list.

Note that these also exist in a large round shape.

Central of Georgia - Round

The strap opening has evolved into the "correct" size of 11/16", however the height of the opening is very large. This style of tag seems to be a direct descendant of the rectangle (above image). This tag also has a large diameter of 2 1/3" by 3" making it substantially larger than all baggage checks with the exception of the Shell checks.

Some of the round ones are very thin when compared to either the rectangular, or earlier round versions. Some of the round versions have two slots that don't match at 180 degrees (not perfectly opposite each other).

Misrepresented is my personal favorite. There is a Massachusetts based fraternal organization called The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. I believe that this organization's roots date back to the Revolutionary War. I cannot confirm the use of these brass tags (they do come in pairs). However, a quantity of material from this organization has been available for sale in an antique shop in Byfield, Massachusetts (out of business as of 2000) from 1996-1999.
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company
Early version
A beautiful John Robbins example. Nice overall shape and hallmark

Later version
No hallmark. Note also a higher number.

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