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"Central Pacific Rail Road Line"
a modern novelty item
Brass Bell, engraved "Central Pacific Rail Road Line" claimed to be a rare antique from a CPRR work car supposedly sold to another railroad — a modern fake with the name of the railroad engraved incorrectly! (This type of bell has also been seen for sale engraved with incorrect variations of the names of the Pennsylvania RR and the New York Central. We wonder if perhaps the railroad names were deliberately engraved incorrectly in an attempt to avoid breaking some law relating to manufacture of counterfeit goods.) These appear to be similar to ordinary $20-$75 6" nautical brass bells widely sold for use on yachts.
In the view of one retired veteran Southern Pacific RR man with vast knowledge of the history of the construction and equipment of the CPRR: "All bells used by the Central Pacific were cast in their foundry at their Sacramento Shops and any lettering was cast raised, not incised. The Central Pacific never used the term 'Lines' on any of their items, from engines and cars to tools, bells, locks lanterns, or other items they used their initials to identify. ... The [CPRR never] sold used work train cars to another railroad. They simply weren't fit for use when the railroad found them of no further value. Never heard of a bell being used on a work train that had been provided by the company. Someone may have had a dinner bell but certainly was not a railroad bell. So far as the size of 6" across and 6.25" tall, the Central Pacific never had a bell that small. This bell was one of the greatest phonies I ever heard of. ... This bell was made during the late twentieth century. It takes it's place alongside the [novelty] Central Pacific Spittoons that have flooded the market for years."
A bell collector wrote: "I have a collection of 8 of these [fake] bells with different road names. ... This bell is not cast from the same mold as all my other bells that came from the same foundry."
Henry Nigro reports that these fake CPRR bells were sold at least from 1982-1986 and an 1982 catalog of A.A. Imports of New Jersey, St. Louis, Missouri, and San Francisco, California depicts the fake CPRR bell for sale for $22.50.
Please let us know if you have any additional information about these fake railroad bells.
Another Fake CPRR Bell
Courtesy Bruce C. Cooper Collection.