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!