Frank and Chris Loveland
Tinplate Times: Frank, tell us about yourself.
Frank Loveland: The first thing you need to know about me is that I have specialized in collecting two inch "early tinplate" mainly Carlisle and Finch. For me “early tinplate” can be distinguished from "tinplate" in that it uses mostly nickel or brass as its main materials of manufacture, is crafted and operates on two rails rather than three like Standard Gauge (hereafter SG) and its production lasted from 1896-1923. Unlike SG, there are very few collectors of early tinplate and very few layouts upon which it is operated. I'd like to tell you my thoughts and concerns about early tinplate and SG. I have spent some time researching these early tinplate trains especially Carlisle and Finch (hereafter C&F.) I really care about all trains not just two inch “early tinplate.”
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. There I came into contact with trains both real and toy on a regular basis. We lived near Winton Place which was on one of the main railroad lines in Cincinnati. I enjoyed watching the trains go by. Also our Union Terminal was a lovely structure which is now used as the Cincinnati Museum Center. As for toy trains, a fellow by the name of Sarge Marsh ran a train shop selling Lionel. It was called The Crossing. I loved going to that shop. I even worked for him for a while. During the holidays in Cincinnati we used to go to CG&E Building to see the B&O layout in the lobby. During the summer, we stayed in a cottage on a lake along the tracks of the Pere Marquette, which became the Chessie and I watched the steam and later diesel trains go by. I spent a lot of time at the station. We also took short rail trips riding to Traverse City and back. My first toy train was a Lionel Scout set. I added considerably to it with a UP freight set and some accessories like the Lionel Gateman.
My education in Cincinnati was at Clifton School and Hughes High School. I went to Dartmouth College and did my graduate work at Duke in anthropology. My wife Chris also took a doctorate in anthropology at Duke. We did fieldwork in Eastern Nicaragua among the Rama Indians about whom I wrote my dissertation. I taught undergraduates anthropology at Gettysburg College and have been retired for about ten years. After 25 years of teaching anthropology, it was time to get serious about my tinplate training. When we came to Gettysburg I set up a nice layout or pike to run my O gauge Lionel Trains. For a while at Christmas I was running Voltamp on the carpet in our study so the kids could see what real toy “early tinplate” trains were like but a like new Voltamp PAYE trolley jumped the track and went from LN to LN- in a heartbeat. Finally I setup a circle of track and ran an 2220 Voltamp Restored Passenger Set on it. With the help of Greg Cenname and Don Hedenburg we made it into a mini-layout for “early tinplate” in our basement. (See below.)
A Rare Early Voltamp Suburban
Tinplate Times: Besides tinplate toy
trains, do you have any other collecting interests or favorite hobbies?
Frank Loveland: I became interested in antiques when we started to furnish our house. We have a lot of antique country furniture in our home. I love antique rugs and especially the geometrically patterned ones as well as Japanese prints which eventually gave way to antique toy and toy train collecting. My wife is an avid gardener with an interest in birds and I am a Recliner Relaxer who reads, writes about and collects early tinplate. We are both avid sports fans.
Tinplate Times: How did you develop an interesting in collecting toy trains?
Frank Loveland: My adult interest in trains and train collecting developed when I purchased a Lionel 0 Santa Fe set here in Gettysburg at the time of the birth of our daughter in 1975 and the die was cast so to speak. A fellow in Hanover, Charlie Pohlman, who ran a train shop called Toy Trains Unlimited helped get me started as a collector. Charlie got me involved with Standard Gauge as did Steve Bachman who has a wonderful Standard Gauge layout, which I enjoyed seeing. I also got involved with early 2" gauge tinplate as a result of getting to know some of the older collectors. These collectors included Bill Manne, who sold me my first C&F set at York, W. Graham Claytor Jr., who was very nice and helped me get through a big C&F deal and taught me a lot about C&F and Voltamp; Samuel Downey Sr., who taught me about Knapp; Dick Hopkins, who filled me in on Voltamp and C&F; and Abe Cohen and John Harling, who filled me on the finer points of early tinplate. In addition, Bruce and Anna Manson, Ken Fremont, Don Hedenburg, Greg Cenname, Chuck Schaffer among others, too many to name here, helped me learn about all kinds of old trains.
Tinplate Times: Tell us about your
start with Standard gauge.
Frank Loveland: My first big SG deal was with Charlie Pohlman, who found some SG trains in Harrisburg that became part of my collection including a nice 381E State Set. Later on I purchased a Lionel Blue Comet, a Coal Train, a cream window trim State Set and many other wonderful pieces. Eventually I found a lovely collection of SG accessories and rolling stock and a couple of small sets in an attic in a house near Acme, Michigan one summer.
Tinplate Times: What about 2" gauge trains?
Frank Loveland: With regard to C&F
and Voltamp, I got lucky when I started as I bought a small grouping of C&F
out of West Virginia, with a first series #34 and three large early period cars
that had had the couplers lowered to accommodate the big cars to the #34, with
two lovely #4 sets, as well as individual purchases of rare pieces like the
C&F #53 Derrick Car, the #87 Passenger car, a medium freight set with a
late #45 and a pile of C&F in good condition from a collection on the West
C& F Derrick Car
C&F Freight Set Pulled By A Late #45 (4th Shelf Up)
The other wonderful deal involved someone calling me in November 2005 and offering me some Voltamp that was in excellent condition. There was a dark red Interurban in this lot, along with a PFE refrigerator car from the 1915 SP set which is very rare along with some freight cars that had several vertical lines painted on them. There also was a nice fairly early #2222 steam locomotive.
Voltamp Dark Red Interurban
Tinplate Times: Are you also interested in real railroads and trains?
Frank Loveland: As for real trains, I always enjoyed looking at and riding on them especially the Pere Marquette/C&O. I am not a rail fan but I enjoyed seeing N&W J in Roanoke and the CP streamlined steamer in the repair shop in the Vancouver area. I used to ride the Strasburg RR and visit Steamtown in the Wilkes-Barre Scranton area and the B&O Museum in Baltimore and the Railroad Museum of PA. While I was teaching at Gettysburg , I had an office right across from the engine house for the Gettysburg RR where they stoked the steamer before they pulled tourists to Biglerville on a train. My office was great because it came with the steam railroad smell. I believe that the center of a "railroading collecting" culture exists here in Pennsylvania .
Tinplate Times: You've done considerable research on Carlisle & Finch. Tell us how your interest in C&F came about.
Frank Loveland: In 1979, Bruce Manson asked the TCA membership if anyone would like to investigate the Carlisle and Finch company in Cincinnati to find out about them now. As I was headed to Cincinnati to see my parents, I agreed to do this and learned a lot about the company which no longer makes trains but mostly searchlights. Soon thereafter I discovered the wonderful records they had in their archives and I was hooked. From that time on, I have spent the last twenty- five years studying this company with the cooperation of Brent and Kurt Finch among others. I had no idea what I was getting into. I have published many articles on C&F based on their records and other sources of information including that from TCAers. I also have participated in events like the celebration for C&F’s 100th anniversary of making toy electric trolleys, that was held in September of 1996 at the present factory. Also, I have done books, lectures and displays etc. on early tinplate companies. I have also worked on Knapp and Voltamp, and their products as well as Smith and White. The Voltamp research came about because Samuel Downey Sr. traded me some files from the Voltamp Company. These files were important because they contained some notes written in Manes Fuld's hand about the beginnings of Voltamp and the transfer of Voltamp to Boucher which was published as an article in 1983 in the TCQ. The Voltamp files are available through Jan Athey at the TCA National Toy Train Museum Reference Library. Jan has been very helpful in my research.
Tinplate Times: What
can you tell us about the relationship between C&F 2" gauge trains
and standard gauge?
Frank Loveland: How in the world could the 2" gauge, 2-rail C&F trains have anything to do with Lionel SG which is more than 2" wide and 3-rail? This is the question which led me back to SG along with a Boucher Blue Comet and becoming a part of the SG online group.
The Boucher and Voltamp Sets and a large C&F #45 set are shown here. I think that Boucher's scale model background puts it at the center of three traditions: the past (2" gauge,) then SG (like the 381E,) and the future, more realistic scale models like Lionel 's 0 gauge Hudson. Turning back the time machine to 1906 and the third rail, we see the emergence of Standard gauge from Lionel 2-7/8" gauge as a giant step forward and back at one and the same time. Forward in the sense of the introduction of the third rail and a more stable section track, and backwards in the sense of dropping the large size of 2-7/8" gauge and making the units smaller like the 2" gauge ones. I think this is what this "Watch out for the third rail!" transformation is all about and the fact that Lionel made their track a little larger than 2" gauge with three rails essentially froze out the 2" gauge competition with the possible exception of Voltamp. Voltamp's rolling stock could run on SG track.
Tinplate Times: What was your approach in doing the C&F research?
Frank Loveland: I was interested in the history of the company which might not be of great interest to the mainstream collector who focuses on prewar O and Standard Gauge. The problem is I don't worry about variations as much as say the typical collector does, but I want to know what the overall patterns are and try to figure out how things fit together in the history of the company. Given the nice records and other materials available to me at C&F, I thought this was the best way to go at the time. However since then I have begun to take more interest in early tinplate variations as they relate to different periods in the company’s history. In contrast to C&F, the most difficult one to understand is Howard because so little of it has been found. Eventually toy train collecting becomes like butterfly collecting. There are not enough compartments to hold all the variations. So what do we do is, we break down the different parts of the pieces and try to put them in a sequence and plot them into little categories so that we can be sure that we know everything that can be collected. Cutting across this is a rarity scale which leads to charging more for a rarer piece than a common one. When you move into tinplate, condition does not become as much of an issue on the early pieces because there are so few pieces out there.
Once you move on, you discover lots of information in odd places. I was getting a drink at the sacred water cooler in the C&F factory when I glanced over at a box full of copier miscues. C&F employees told me to use those if at all possible to help cut photocopy paper costs and that reusing the waste materials, so to speak, is the C&F way. Perhaps I am restating the obvious but it led me down a line of fruitful thinking. While I know recycling is part of most business today, the fact that they are still doing it shows that these ideas have been in place for a long time. We can learn about their in-house past business culture by observing what they are doing today. So if they had extra parts from a job perhaps they used them up in the next run and we get strange combinations rather than someone altering a piece to make it run better. This not only applies to C&F but to many other toy train companies as well.
Next I went back to some records I looked at many years ago and started seeing all kinds of things I missed the first time around. I was trying to figure out when C&F started manufacturing their large Atlantic #45 in quantity and I found a listing of C&F #45 parts in a sketchbook dated 1904 in the archives. As we have no production records for this period, this helps give us a date when they began to ramp up their #45 production. Additional information came to my attention when I purchased a train that came with a C&F instruction book dated 1903 that showed a C&F #45. So it is possible that they started making it as early as 1903 but not in quantity until 1904.
Finally there is the Morten Carlisle story; the "C" in C&F. Going through the archives and checking the usual sources I could find out very little about him. The Finches didn’t know what he looked like so they could not provide me with a picture of him. This smacks of the "Harry Grant syndrome" that Jan Athey ran into where an important figure in early Lionel vanished without a photographic trace. I kept hoping somewhere his personal papers with a photograph would show up but they did not. But alas I learned from some correspondence between Don McLain and Herb Morley that Don went around to get his stuff when Carlisle died but the housekeeper had thrown it out. A couple of weeks ago Kurt Finch sent me a copy of Morten Carlisle’s business card which indicated that Carlisle was President of Clifton Motor Works, which was part of C&F for a while prior to when C&F began to focus on searchlights. This is a matter to be looked at in the future by someone else.
Tinplate Times: You've written quite a bit in particular about C&F. Has this material been published? What other written resources on C&F would you recommend?
Frank Loveland: Most
of what I have written is focused on C&F in the articles in the TCA Quarterly,
which can be located by using the TCA Quarterly Index Ron Morris prepared some
years ago. Articles on C&F also include those written by Anthony Annese,
W. Graham Claytor Jr. and George and Richard Hopkins, who wrote many articles
on early tinplate. The best was on the "Big Four" in 2" gauge
written for the TCQ by Dick Hopkins and published in 1971-72. It serves as a
nice overall introduction to the field of early tinplate. Next I recommend reading
the first section of the Greenberg book Early American Toy Trains on
C&F which was mostly written by W. Graham Claytor Jr. This was a labor of
love for Bruce and Linda Greenberg. I also recommend the Hertz books on model
railroading, Riding the Tinplate Rails and Collecting Model Trains,
and his articles published in various magazines. I have recently published some
articles on C&F and one on Kenco(Knapp) in the Nos.6, 10, 15, 16 and 20
of the Extra, edited by Harry Rado. The Extra is the Newsletter
of the Toy Train Paper and Memorabilia Group.
Voltamp Cars 30 Inches Long
Tinplate Times: What
are you working on currently?
Frank Loveland: Right now I have left behind Carlisle and Finch temporarily and started working back from Jehu Garlick's electric loco which recently surfaced. This loco was made in 1895 and described in a recent article by Bruce Greenberg in the TCQ. I am looking at some early German and American efforts in the 1880s and early 1890s. These companies include Plank, Carette, Marklin, Electric Dynamic of Philadelphia, Hubley and several others. The idea of some type of electric toy was being developed in addition to other sources of power like clockwork and steam between 1880 and 1895 intrigues me. The big question is why did companies leave clockwork and steam behind to go electric? Common sense says we were increasing our use of electricity in the home and so toy trains followed suit. However there are many other factors working like using the trolleys and trains to educate people (especially kids) about electricity in general and how electricity would fit into an industrial society of the 20th century.
Tinplate Times: Do you
have a layout currently?
Frank Loveland: I really don't have a full layout now but just a circle of 2" track with some scenery and a few structures.
I run a Voltamp 2220, with two 8 wheel passenger cars that have been restored.
Tinplate Times: What do you enjoy collecting the most?
Frank Loveland: I enjoy collecting 2" gauge tinplate the most especially Carlisle and Finch, Knapp, and Voltamp.
Tinplate Times: What pieces that you don't have in your collection would you like to have?
Frank Loveland: I would
like to own either the C&F three rail trolley or the incline toy both of
which have eluded me. In Voltamp, an early large 2500 passenger set all in blue
including the engine or black with orange cars.
Tinplate Times: What piece would be your desert island keeper?
Frank Loveland: Of all the pieces I own and would want to keep it would be a tossup between a C&F #53 Derrick Car or a Voltamp red PAYE trolley or Interurban. Three other pieces of C&F catch my attention: a #87 passenger car, a late #45 loco with medium fright or passenger cars and a C&F Summer trolley.
Voltamp Interurban, Voltamp "PAYE" Trolley
Carlisle & Finch #45
Carlisle & Finch #87
Tinplate Times: Frank, are you still adding to your collection?
Frank Loveland: Yes I
am still adding to my collection. One was a partial trade deal, the other an
outright sale. I'd be interested to know where everyone else is finding true
tinplate trains, and if they tell me then I will be eternally grateful.
Tinplate Times: How about train shows? Which shows do you prefer?
Frank Loveland: York
is by far the best show for early tinplate, followed by classic train auctions
and when you least expect it the sniper show on Ebay.
Tinplate Times: What do you enjoy most about collecting toy trains?
Frank Loveland: The fun
is in the people and the search. Also the enthusiasm that comes with learning
new things about the train you just got, figuring out a place to display it
or showing it to people as a new addition to your collection.
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