TagTown - Details on Baggage Check Types
A Reversible Pair from the Cape Cod and Taunton Branch RRs
Odd that the shapes aren't similar &
Hoole's patent on one and Robbins hallmark on the other
Check Type Introduction
There are several approaches to "types". First is the type of material the check is made of. Shape of the check is another interesting approach. The number of shapes and sizes can be overwhelming. The more advanced collector is also concerned with check designation.

Shapes:
The earliest checks were crudely stamped disks of metal. Either circles or rectangular shapes were most popular. These can also be identified by a smaller than normal slot for the leather strap. By the 1860s there was a proliferation of many shapes from each manufacturer. The most likely explanation for the number of shapes is efficient employee identification.

Triplicate from the Eastern RR
Made by
Robbins
Reverse reads: Biddeford

Very early J.W. Strange check.
Boston Concord & Montreal RR
Note the smaller strap opening
Early interline Duplicate from a Reversible pair
Nickel plated brass
Manufacturing Materials: The first checks were made of brass or copper. These early examples can be identified by the railroad name (or initials) on one side, and the id number on the reverse side. Cast lead checks also existed. They were still being produced as late as 1871 by John Robbins. By the 1870s brass was the material of choice. I do have an example of an Emigrant check in copper. Paper came onto the scene in the 1880s. By the early 1900s Paper was beginning to dominate. I believe that metal checks were in severe decline by 1918. Brass was a necessary war material.
Check Designations: The more advanced collector knows that thereis a further breakdown of "how" checks were used. All checks came in pairs (there is a triplicate system). The passenger receipt is always called a Duplicate (they are often marked this way).

Local - These were not to leave the "home" road. They do not have a specified station (just road and unique number). Generally one check i the pair is marked with a small star or other identification mechanism.

Reversible
- They come in pairs that are unlike. The bag check is generally larger and always has 2 slots. The check will have 2 named destinations. The bag check will have a reverse order of raod names. The check pair could be used for travel in either direction by looping the leather strap in the opposite direction.

Station
- Similar to Local, however, they do have a station Designation and will not have the word Local.

Shell
or Special - A larger size with bent sides. The sides are designed to hold an insert. The insert is made of either metal or paper. They will always have a road name, but will never have a number. The number is always on the insert.

Far and away paper and shell checks are the most common. They still make for interesting collecting. Several roads went out of their way to produce nice multi-color logos for the inserts. Some roads also paid to have nice artwork applied directly to the tag. More on that soon.

The
Way Shell check is a later version of the original Shell check. Sometimes either or both Shell or Insert are marked "WAY". in this system. The metal Way inserts do not always fit in the Shell slots, therefore, it must be assumed that the Insert may have been attached to the outside of the Shell.

Emigrant
- These were checks used by a passenger on a "one way" trip. They were used when the West was being developed. Becasue of the low number required, they are very scarce.

Legal Dislaimer
- If a railroad wanted, the check maker would stamp the back of a check with an insurance disclaimer. The railroad would be informing the passenger that the limit of insurance would be a set amount, typically $100.00
Delaware Lackawanna & Western RR "Local" check
Made by
American Ry. Supply
Portland & Kennebec RR
"Station" Check
A Shell check made for the B&M by Sherburne & Co., Boston. This image shows the back side with the insert "in". Note that the insert also has a slot for proper use.
A Shell check made for the Concord & Montreal (insert is dated 1895) Made by Am. Ry. Supply. This image shows the insert next to the check.
TagTown Home
makers
fakes