In October 2014 this item came into Grandma’s Attic. The vendors explained its use but, I’m a little thick sometimes. So, I went to the internet for more information. My first couple of finds didn’t help me much. They did produce pictures which I have included in this blog. I could not tell from the picture if the engineer or the station manager was handing something through the loop or putting the loop out for the engineer or station manager to grab. I finally came across an article where a guy was discussing the confusion of terms used for this item. They have had several names attached to them such as; wooden staff, token, broom handle shaped token, staff and/or tablet, each name changing because of what the station was called. Each location in the UK, Australia and other locations gave it a different name.
The railroad token or staff was used in block signaling which was for single lane railroads. They were handed off from the engineer to a person on the platform or vice versa depending on the conditions or use of the rails or the direction in which they headed.
Wikipedia defined this item as a token which is a physical object which a locomotive driver is required to have or see before entering onto a particular section of single track. The token is clearly endorsed with the name of the section it belongs to. A token system is used because there is a much greater risk of serious collision in the event of irregular working by signalmen or train crews on a single line than on double lines.
When you go online to find a token, staff, table, token pouch, token ring or whatever name you find for it you will see there are many different styles of them. Information is limited on this item. Have fun hunting for your favorite style of railroad token, staff or table, there is a lot out there to see!
I thought some of you might like to see a few sneak peek pictures of what Grandma's Attic is starting to look like this time of year....
But, just seeing the pictures and not actually stopping in for a visit would be like getting to see all the nicely wrapped presents under the tree and not actually opening them, SOOOO...
You better stop in and see us this Holiday season, you hear?!? :)
All right, now that we've gotten that out of the way.
Take a look at how we're "decking the halls" around here.
Just the other day, a thimble arrived at Grandma’s Attic. It has a small piece of extra metal attached to it, which made it a curiosity to us. The thimble also has the word “Vernon” on it. We started searching under gadget thimbles and came across the Lillian Vernon thimble. This explained the “Vernon” but now, how was it used?
It was described as a gilded brass thimble with a needle gripper or pusher horizontally on the band. Mathis refers to it as the 'Magic Thimble'. Some brass examples have © Vernon on the band. This is not the maker's name, rather the name of the retailer - Lilian Vernon - in New York. There are diamond patterns on the gripper.
I saw little information as to how the thimble was used and what made it special, so I went on the search for more information.
One of the ads I saw had the word “grippers” in it.
When I searched for thimbles with grippers I found this patented thimble's details appear in Greif - the patent was taken out in Germany by Walter Schultz, the Patent No. is 577590. "It is a thimble with a device to pull the needle. A small spring, double barred, rough on one side, about three millimeters wide, is attached to the side of the thimble. A needle is clamped lightly between the spring and thimble. This aids in withdrawing the needle from tough material".
It was patented [No. 562,730 of 23 June 1896] by Uriah A. Knauss of Pennsylvania, USA
A similar gripper was patented [no 193257], in the USA on 25 December 1962, by Henry Burbig [Burig] of New York.
A third version is made in Germany but marketed in the USA by the Heddy Corporation of New Jersey as the Heddy Handy Thimble.
There appears to be several different designs of the “gadget” or “gripper” thimbles.
After reading the “Heddy” Thimble instructions, and some help from my employee, I finally understood how the thimble was used.
Having learned to quilt with wool cloth and having patched a few pairs of jeans, I can see the genius of this item! “Tough” was the key word in the ad. You would insert the “eye end” of the needle into the “gripper” and that would give you the extra grip to pull the needle through the tough material. It’s pretty neat once you get the hang of it!
This is an example of a search on the internet producing a satisfactory find. It makes you feel as if you have achieved something. If your search is unfruitful it can be pretty frustrating. Here at GA, we have discovered that sometimes putting the item aside for a while and returning to your search on another day will help you to be more successful in your discovery.
-The GA Gang