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William W. Wilcox

William W. Wilcox is best known as a manufacturer of baggage checks. Wilcox operations seem to be fixed in Chicago. It should be noted that Wilcox was also an innovator and has at least one patent.

Wilcox the Inventor:
Wilcox has a July 27, 1880 patent allowing a base brass check to accept an insert in a "window". I once thought that paper inserts were used, however I have a 3 piece set (coming in the mail) which has a brass window insert. I am chomping at the bit to get the image posted. It seems as though the Hoole reversible gets the same job done with 2 tags and not 3. It's not hard to figure out why the triplicate system didn't catch on. The only advantage to the triplicate is that only one side of each check needs to be stamped.

It is important to remember that a patent does not necessarily mean a maker. Below are two Wilcox patent examples. One is clearly made by Murdock, and not Wilcox. The other has no maker information. Although this one can be classified as a "dug beater" it is still a keeper.
2 Wilcox 1880 patent examples
New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio to Chicago & Atlantic Railway. This check was made by Murdock and not Wilcox. The maker's hallmark is over the slot and the patent date is just below the slot. Gulf Coast & Santa Fe, St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern via Texas & Pacific Railway. No maker hallmark, just the patent date. Yes, it's cracked but I could care less!
Wilcox 1883 patent example

An interesting pair of tags with a July 9, 1883 patent date. Several things come to mind. 
(1) this is an interline tag A&WP and W of A 
(2) Only A&WP (and tag home base of Montgomery) is on the "main" tag 
(3) there is a number on the back of the main tag 
(4) the main tag has a double slot at the bottom 
(5) the window on the insert is large and might have accepted a cardstock destination
(6) the main tag has curved sides that "fit" with the insert perfectly (see bottom image above)


Wilcox the Maker:
Being based in Chicago, Wilcox was at the center of transcontinental commerce. More railroads touched Chicago than any other American city. Some Wilcox checks were purchased by roads to the east of Chicago, however, there was almost no competition to the west. It is also interesting to note that Wilcox checks made there way to roads in Texas to the south. My access to historical information on Wilcox has been limited. Next time I'm in NY I'll see what's available for Chicago references.
 Scarcity rating

There are two predominant hallmarks. One hallmark has "WILCOX" the other has 'WILCOX & CO.". The one without "CO" is the earlier of the two. Yes there are further variations: "W.W.WILCOX" and "W.WILCOX" are other possibilities. Several examples follow:
Wilcox the maker examples
St. Louis, Hannibal & Keokuk. This Localcheck is small, nice example New Orleans, St. Louis & Chicago. With the entire road name spelled out, there is no room for interpretation
Wisconsin Central and Chicago & Grand Trunk. This is a very large shield with a slightly offset number. Note with the double slot, it is a reversible (opposite routing on reverse). Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Local. This tag has to be later than 1898 with this name form.

Because of the prolific nature of Wilcox shell tags, I don't know if including them is a good idea. I am also reluctant to include them because of the time to download the larger images. The size of the images may limit my overall site image container. I will consider a Shell specific page for those with either broadband or patience. Let me know if this is something that would really enhance the "quality" of information.

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