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Transportation, Railroad Train, Device Railway Mechanical Lever Frame Model, Antique, c. 1900
Model of a Railway Mechanical Lever Frame
American: c. 1900
Wood and brass
9 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches, overall
Provenance: Railroad Collection of Francis H. Schwartz
Scale model of an interlocking mechanical lever frame, used in railway signaling. The brass levers on this model move and lock in different positions within a wooden frame. Actual mechanical levers are a few feet long and typically housed on the floor of a small building called an interlocking tower or signal box, next to the train tracks. Each lever operates a different point and signal, and the signalman walks between them to operate the signals for each approaching train. While there are places in the world where mechanical frames are still in use, from about 1929 on they have given way to power frames with miniature levers, which control the signals electrically, and to other electronic systems.
This model is from a collection of railroad memorabilia and model trains. It is most likely a demonstration model, but conceivably could be a salesman’s sample or patent model. It might also have been used as part of a model train set, but has no contact points to make it function with other pieces.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light wear, shrinkage to wood, oxidation to brass. Lever mechanisms in working condition. Paper label on base, presumably some sort of identification, oxidized, chipped, and illegible.
“Lever frames.” Wikipedia. 3 December 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lever_frame#Power_frames (5 April 2012).