Fake Irish railwayana

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Up to relatively recently, reproduction and fake Irish signs have been a rarity. However the 2005-6 saw a spate of both. The principal sign subject to this treatment has been the GSWR four line gate. A check on ebay in November 2007 showed obvious LLSR and WTR fakes on offer and a doubtful GSWR example. Usually there is the proviso that the seller does not know what railway it comes from or is not sure if it is a reproduction or not. Frequently material from this site on the railway concerned is pasted into the description to give the sign a genuine feel. Fakes are still appearing. An interesting one is the Western and Central Ireland one, see below. But genuine GSWR four liners are hard to call, particularly on the basis of a photo (see below).

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A selection of tops of the 4 line gate fakes

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A recent Waterford and Central Ireland creation. Source: ebay0913. full image 70K

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A recent GSWR gate. OK or not? Don't like but actually no idea. Source: ebay0214. full image 104K

The risk of confusing the reproduction from the original, for the moment, only arises in the case of the GSWR and WDLR varieties. There do not seem to be any distinguishing features, even the fixing holes are in the right off-line place, so the only advice is to ensure signs show long use, many coats of paint and exposure to the elements. The appearance of these signs has obviously had a marked effect on the price that might be paid for original GSWR and WDLR 4 liners and painfully the market value of examples of the 4 line GSWR & WDLR (thankfully my WDLR is a 5 liner, but I have an old GSWR 4 liner!). Many other versions of these 4 line gates are doing the rounds - Railway Antiques Guide No.26 has illustrations of BH&BR (Belfast Hollywood & Bangor), LLSR and GCR&BVR (Giants Causeway & Bush Valley) examples, being offered at an event in the NE of England and, subsequently, at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. Similar signs offered on ebay have other fanciful company initials (e.g. Tralee & Killarney, Waterford & Tramore, Cork Bandon & South Coast, Cork Blackrock & Passage). The companies involved frequently had not the slightest connection with the GSWR, and their separate existence often expired long before the era of the GSWR gate. I have contacted a seller of several of these signs advising him of their doubtful origin, but principally objecting to material purloined from this site which, perhaps, might give some respectability to the sale of these items. The effect seemed to be a diversion to justification material from the IRRS site. Advised the IRRS, but my advice bounced! So caveat emptor and tough if you have a genuine four-liner you want to sell.

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Ormsby creation. Source: ebay905

Another familiar sign on ebay (being offered from as far apart as Australia and the US) and at car boot sales in Ireland and the UK is a GSWR large 'Ormsby' trespass without the familiar fixing lugs and erroneously quoting Section 90 of the GSWR Act. Here the going rate on ebay, however, seems to be more or less that of scrap metal!

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DNGR Ormsby! Source: ebay106

My vote on the most inept sign to date must go to the Dundalk Newry and Greenore Railway headed trespass where the text still refers to the Great Southern and Western Railway and Mr. Ormsby! My allegation that it 'may not be a reproduction but a fake' was still on the ebay site in May 2006 but not for much longer, given the 90 day limit there, with no subsequent record. But that is ebay. Somebody actually paid £26 on 13 March 2006 for this sign. While most of the items mentioned are offered on ebay with careful wording on authenticity " GSWR - 'but I don't know of this railway' ", specialist auction houses are not immune from the odd rogue sign.

LMSNCC plate 1891 sold at auction for £60 in February 2006, looked totally wrong for an LMS/MR/BNCR wagon plate. Firstly, the "9", in particular, was not the NCC distinctive style, but, then again, neither are the rest of the characters, e.g. the "1's" see the real "1's", and the "C's" etc.. For comparison purposes see also the "9's" down the page or on the MRNCC page on the same site for the "8's" even if one, on "MRNCC 1648", is upside down! However, despite all this elaborate detective work, it would now seem that a batch of LMSNCC wagon plates, totally unlike the normal style, were actually cast by the company and are genuine carried items. After LMSNCC1891 in 2006, LMSNCC1895 was sold at auction in June 2014. So one might surmise that other numbers are out there. It might also be noted that a subsequent less ornate style may have emerged later, an example being LMSNCC2574. So even signs suspected as being fakes can turn out to be legitimate.

A suspect WDLR 4 line gate was sold at auction for £32 in September 2005, but the auction house had a qualification "Please enquire for further details". Buyers were obviously informed that it was a reproduction and were willing to pay that amount for a sign which had previously traded at £120-160 (the latter 5 liner bought by yours truly at BRA in 1997 before the appearance of reproductions).

An LMS NCC & Leyland Motors Ltd Makers 1933 from a 4-wheel petrol railcar - Alloy oval, 25x15cm, in original condition was withdrawn at auction in January 2004 on advice that 5 plates were known to exist from one possible railcar! A number of other items have met a similar fate.

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New DNGR enamel. Source: ebay105

There are also several items offered on ebay for what they are i.e. reproductions. These include an enamel version of the DNGR 'Nuisance' sign (an original cast iron sign is at York) and a version of the BCDR spitting sign which features on the index page of this site. In addition there can be replicas produced for worthy causes. Thus in 1999 the RPSI announced a limited edition casting of the LMSNCC builders' plate from No. 4 built at Derby in 1947 to fund that locomotive's overhaul. I am unsure whether these were produced but, if so, their origin could become murky as years go by.  

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New BCDR enamel. Source: ebay605

Finally, there are those items which are sold as something they are not, with no intention to deceive but because detailed information on provenance may be miscontrued or is not available. Reputable auction houses consult their own experts, but sometimes even they may be mistaken. On this site you will find some comments from readers who were either there at the time, or have an expertise in particular companies, and are familiar with particular items and have communicated this knowledge. A case in point is an LMSNCC brass cabside numberplate '50' auctioned in December 2004, and described as being "ex BNCR Class D 2-4-0 Compound built by Beyer Peacock as Works No.3632 in 1895, 'JUBILEE', withdrawn 1946....". My correspondent notes that 'the numbers are not in the earlier elaborate serif style which would have been appropriate for this locomotive, but rather in the block style which appeared with the Class WT 2-6-4T locos. This strongly suggests that the plate came instead from jeep No.50 built at Derby in 1949...someone...could be disappointed.' Other examples are the the NCC instrument in a box sold in December 1998. This was an amalgam of totally separate components. Also, the second of the LMSNCC track circuit plates pictured in RCJ 392, actually came from the LMS, but in North Wales.

An example: LMSNCC wagonplate comparisons

Looking below at the letters/numbers of the suspect (top row) and letters/numbers from originals published on the LMSNCC/MRNCC/BNCR pages of this site leads to the inevitable conclusion that the suspect plate is not genuine. One inconsistency might be tolerated, but not so many where all other genuine plates closely match the normal pattern. But as noted above, the rogue plate is in fact genuine and is likely to be one of several.

COMPARISON OF SUSPECT '1891' SIGN AND EARLIER ITEMS (9 or inverted 6 at end)
MRNCC 1981
MRNCC 1062
MRNCC 1648
MRNCC 1960
BNCR 1093
BNCR 1238
BNCR 1210
BNCR 151
BNCR 1034

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Page posted 19/5/06. Revised 28/1/15

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