In the 1960's, I began collecting switch keys after
running across the old ring of five keys that my
father carried when he worked on the railroad.
A few of the really old timers might remember my name
on Rice's list of switch key collectors. We were ranked
by the number of keys we had in our collection. I started
on the bottom and SLOWLY worked my way up the list.
Eventually, many years later I purchased Mr. Rice's collection
and three of the other great collections that I only dreamed
about in my early collecting years.
Switch keys were very HARD to acquire in those days!
Representing a life time of hard work and dedication, retired
railroad workers carefully guarded these prized mementos
I spent more time talking about switch keys in those days than
I ever did buying them.
A fascinating and informative article is reproducted on the
railroadiana.org web site. Read this article and you will begin
to understand switch key collecting.
Collection That I Am Offering For Sale
My collection was basically purchased from four OLD
collections - collectors who had already been collecting a long
time before I started in the 1960's. One older gentlemen's FATHER
had collected in the early 1900's and another part of the collection
came from a famous collection that was started in the late 1800's!
I am not kidding when I state that many of these keys are
VERY rare and do not often come up for sale.
These are OLD, authentic railroad switch keys. I have tried to
provide the bit information and other info I have on each key.
This information I have is based on the sources available to me.
If you have definitive PROOF that a keys is listed incorrectly
or can help identify a key that I am unsure of the identity on,
please email and let me know.
I am not interesting in arguing about pricing. As my father
liked to say, "It is only worth what someone will pay for it."
Basicially I have used auction records, the rarity, and the
amount I paid to come up with the pricing.
If you feel a key is too high, you simply do not have to purchase it.
If you feel something is priced too cheaply you are welcome to pay
more for it or at least email and let me know.
Let me be the first to say that I do not know everything!!!
I always chuckle when I hear someone griping about
high auction prices. We have all heard someone say, "That's
crazy, it is not worth that much". However, it was worth that
much to at least two people who bid in the auction at that
particular time and place. Consequently, if something sells
way too cheaply at an auction, it is often simply because not
enough people bid for it to bring the proper value.
Experienced collectors only use auction prices as a GUIDE.
A rare item in better condition should sell for a higher amount
then the last one brought years ago. That is just the nature of
collecting. The last few times I fueled up the car ($50+) coming
home without ANY railroad keys, quickly reminded me that
sometimes it is better to buy an item when you can, rather than
look and NEVER find one.
SHIPPING & PAYMENT
I especially do not want to argue about shipping and payment.
I live in a small town with only one red light on the main road,
There is a local post office, but we do not have other shipping
services easily available. It is a 50+ mile trip to my bank in
Austin and for this reason I require that payment be made by
a US postal money order so that I can cash the MO at the local
post office (2 miles away) when I mail your keys. I am not
trying to make money on shipping, BUT I am also not going to
lose money on shipping (I do not count my time and gasoline).
If you purchase a large quantity, we can naturally make other
For the same reasons listed above, shipping will be through the
US post office using their priority mail shipping small size box.
I will be cheaper to ship several keys rather than just one.
If you do not want your keys insured, you must write and sign a
waiver stating this enclosed with your US post office postal
money order payment - I believe you should get what you pay
for and do not want to be responsible for any item lost or
damaged in shipping.
I am an honest, fair person that does not like to be
taken advantage of. If you buy something from me, it will be
what I say it is to the best of my knowledge. If you are not
satisfied with it, you can return it THE DAY YOU RECEIVE IT
You open it up, look at it and then send it back if you are not
satisfied. Not later after you have tried to sell or trade it.
Unless I have made a serious error, the buyer pays shipping
both ways on returned items. In other words, I am not wasting
BOTH my TIME and money for someone to just look at something.
SORRY FOR THE LONG INTRODUCTION
I hope it is better to over explain so that their are not
any misunderstandings. I am easier to reach by email, so
please email and let me know that you are sending payment.
Keys will be held for two weeks after notification. If
something delays your payment, just email and let me know!
I am also willing to put items on layaway.
I will try to ship keys the next day after payment is received.
IN CLICKING ON THE LINKS BELOW YOU ARE
AGREEING TO THE TERMS STATED ABOVE
Keys are listed alphabetically with a
separate page for each letter. Double click on a keys basic
description to bring up a photo and additional identification
information on that key.
P.O. Box 4695
Lago Vista, TX 78645
YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION
TO USE OR COPY ANY IMAGES
FROM THIS WEB SITE WITHOUT
ADDING THE PHRASE -
"PHOTO COURTESY OF
P.O. Box 4695
Lago Vista, TX 78645
I am virtually unknown among the current crop of railroad
1) They are no longer holding railroad shows in my area
collectors for two reasons:
and I have not been to a railroad show since 1975.
2) A particularly BAD experience with a known railroad
dealer in Washington state. I told him I would consider
trading out of state keys for rare Texas keys I did not have.
Thinking that I did not know what I was doing, he became
extremely angry when I would not trade a common Texas key
(MK&T) for my extremely rare Kansas Pacific key.
He then offered to trade some fake keys, following this
up with threatening and insulting emails when I told him I
was not interested.
I was later amazed that one newer collector would not even
speak to me on the phone after this person in Washington
had "told him about me".
I have never bought, sold, or traded ANYTHING with this
dealer??? I collected railroad switch keys for the history and
enjoyment. After this, bad experience, I have no use for the
"politics" of the hobby.
For this reason I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.
Key bit drawings courtesy of Al Barker and Don Stewart.
The late Al Barker did keys bit drawing for the railroad
collectors publication "Key, Lock and Lantern."
Don Stewart authored an excellent book written in 1987
"Railroad Switch Keys & Padlocks" which contained both
keys bit drawings and padlock drawings.
I believe it is out of print, but did see a used copy on Amazon
for $50 the other day.