John Robbins started making baggage checks between 1841 and 1843. Robbins was first located in Boston and in later years (1920?) moved operations to Attleboro, Massachusetts. It isn't clear when Robbins stopped making baggage checks. Robbins made Shell checks, which suggesting that the company lasted at least until 1885. Another sign of survival into the 1890s is the existence of a Local check made for the Bangor & Aroostook RR, which came into existence in 1895.
During their existence Robbins had various maker hallmarks that were applied to their checks. Any check marked for Robbins Mfg Co are from the later period (1890). Robbins also made Shell checks in this later period. There are documents from 1872 showing Robbins and The Hoole Baggage Check Co. applying identical rate increases on to their customers at the same time. This may be a coincidence, however, there may have been a tight relationship between these two companies.
In the early days (pre 1870s) Robbins also made "white metal" checks. These are quite rare. They are thicker than brass checks (they were cast into blanks, and then stamped). The are soft, and easily damaged. They are made of a soft lead alloy. This is probably the reason that so few exist. Robbins is also an authentic maker of locomotive wood tokens. I am reluctant to share the specific information on these (there are already enough fakes on the market).
Click here to see some interesting Hoole/Robbins
|J. ROBBINS over BOSTON||
|J. ROBBINS, BOSTON||
||See Malden station tag below|
|JOHN ROBBINS MFG CO.||
|JOHN ROBBINS MFG CO. BOSTON||
Several Robbins examples follow:
This first group all have one common feature. It's teh undersized strap
opening that does not have rounded corners.
These would be among the earliest of Robbins tags. The last tag does not have a hallmark, however, it is listed in
the 1849 RObbins catalog as one of the few lead shapes available..
|3 very early (pre 1860) John Robbins checks|
|Very early crude Androscoggin & Kennebec Note the initials in an arc and the number on the reverse side.||A copper Portland (ME) to Montreal through tag. Back has customized watch fob addition.||A lead Northern (NH). Very thick. Also has custom post use personal inscription on reverse.|
This second group all have the standard 11/16" rounded corner strap
These would be among the earliest of Robbins tags.
The last tag does not have a hallmark, however, it is listed in the 1849 Robbins catalog as one of the few "cut-out" shapes available..
|3 more early John Robbins checks|
|Ornate Boston, Concord & Montreal with a cut-out window. This type of ornamentation is unique to Robbins..||Another lead Concord, Manchester & Lawrence RR "Concord" station tag. Very thick. Note number on reverse.||A Northern (NH) with a cut-out. Outstanding condition..|
|3 Early John Robbins checks|
|Very early crude Newburyport & Danvers RR. Note the initials in an arc.||Boston & Maine Station check. Again early "arc" lettering||An Eastern RR "beanpot" shape with the hallmark on the bottom.|
|3 Later John Robbins checks|
|Nice Bangor & Aroostook RR Local check. Very nice hallmark in an arc on top.||Boston & Maine Way check. Note the 5 digit number. Nice, but these exist in quantity!||A nice narrow gauge from the Boston Revere Beach & Lynn (now the "Blue" subway line)|