Information about the Rail Store

For more information, please contact Meg Coughlin, the store manager, at (215) 361-6176, e-mail

What exactly is the Rail Store?

The Rail Store first appeared in January 1996. Originally, it was planned that the store would concentrate on items of interest to private railroad car owners, but my main interest is in railroad collectibles, and over time railroadiana took over.

As a marketplace for railroadiana, the rail store is unique as it is updated frequently, and more people visit this site than would receive a conventional mail list. Internet-wise, it's a pleasant alternative to buying from strangers for very high prices at online auctions.

I need more information on an item.

Please contact me by telephone or email, and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

How do I order?

The first thing you should do is contact me by telephone or email and tell me that you are interested in an item. I'll be able to tell you if an item is still available, and calculate shipping charges on your order, and advise you on the total cost.

Do you take credit cards?

No, only checks and money orders.

I'd like to see an item in person before I buy, is this possible?

Tom and I usually deal at a few shows a year and can bring an item along if you want to see it or pick it up in person. When you shop at shows, you have the opportunity to examine items before you purchase them. On the other hand, shows can be competitive, time-consuming and costly to attend.

If you're in the Philadelphia area, I may be able to arrange a meeting with you. However, everything is sold with a satisfaction guarantee, and returns are possible.

Are the items guaranteed?

Yes--when your payment is received , you order is shipped immediately via USPS Priority Mail. When you receive it, you should examine the items carefully, and contact me. If you are not satisfied with everything, we will arrange for return shipments, and your payment will be returned.

How are returns handled?

You should immediately contact me either by phone or email to tell me that the item is coming back. I will return your payment to you when I receive your items back.

In practice, returns are very rare, as I make a diligent effort to accurately describe items to prospective purchasers.

Are there more items available that are not on the list?

Yes. In addition, I actively follow "wants lists" for people, and often try to put collectors in touch with each other.

Do you buy items?

Yes, my main collecting interests are china, postcards and paper items from Western US railroads and railroad hotels. In addition, because I have wants lists from many different collectors, I purchase items for other people, and make referrals.

I'm interested in starting to collect railroadiana. Where do I begin?

Being that you are connected to the internet, you might want to subscribe to the Railroadiana Listserv, which is run by Rick DeMattia. Rick provides this general overview:

The Railroadiana List is a mailing list devoted to the exchange of information among people interested in collecting, buying or selling items of railroad interest.

The Railroadiana Digest contains the articles submitted to the Railroadiana List, but accumulated into a single larger email message rather than one article at a time.

Subscription/unsubscription/info requests should always be sent to the -request address of a mailinglist. If a mailinglist for example is called "", then the -request address can be inferred from this to be:"".

To subscribe to one of the mailinglists, simply send a message with the word "subscribe" in the "Subject:" field to following addresses:

For the Railroadiana List:

Subject: subscribe


For the Railroadiana Digest:


Subject: subscribe

To unsubscribe from a mailinglist, send a message:

For the Railroadiana List:

Subject: unsubscribe


For the Railroadiana Digest:


Subject: unsubscribe

To submit an article to the list, the address is:

Please include a meaningful subject in the Subject: field for the convenience of subscribers. The normal rules of courtesy should apply.

Inquiries, comments, or mail distribution problems may be addressed to the list maintainer, Rick DeMattia

In addition, you should consider joining the Railroadiana Collectors Association, Incorporated. (RCAI). The RCAI produces a first-rate quarterly magazine on railroadiana collecting, a membership directory, and will put you in a communication and educational newtork with other railroadiana collectors. The cost is $20/year for a regular membership (or $40 a year if you want to be a Contributing Member, and get your copy of The Railroadiana Express by first class mail). Contact Bob Chase, RCAI Membership, 550 Veronica Place, Escondido, CA 92027. Bob's email address is (Bob recently took over the membership duties from Joe Mazanek who handled this job with great aplomb for many years.)

Selling antiques on the web is a great idea! How do I get started?

It seems that the recent explosion of internet auction sites has put some market pressure on antique shops and multi-dealer co-ops. While some people seem to be doing well buying and selling on auction sites, it seems sometimes that desirability and scarcity often get overlooked by folks doing the bidding. I've seen a few examples recently where an unusually high sale price has brought a handful of similar items onto the auction block.

The best way to really learn about railroad artifact collecting is to attend railroadiana shows. If you are a serious collector, you really should get a table at your favorite railroadiana show. You'll enjoy meeting people, and learning things about the hobby that can't be found in books. The Railroadiana shows are the heart of the hobby--some of the best experiences I've had as a collector have happened at shows.

Don't worry about making money, you're lucky if you cover your costs. I deal railroadiana strictly because I enjoy history, spending time with other collectors, going to shows, getting up at 5:00 am to attend flea markets, railroadiana shows, etc. In "real life", my husband and I are computer analysts.

How do you produce your web site?

Tabletop photos are taken with a Canon EOS and 70 mm lens on color print film using quartz photofloods and color correction filters. Some shots are taken using bounce flash (better color rendering but reflections are always a problem when shooting china). Paper items are usually scanned directly.

Paper items are scanned directly as 24-bit images with no image correction. Photographs of china may undergo some color correction so that the color rendering most closely approximates the actual color of the item. Palette reduction is used to reduce the size of graphical files to as much as 20 percent of original. As custom palettes are used, few people notice, however everybody notices how much faster the files download. Image work is done in the Macintosh environment, while editorial work is split between PCs and Macs.

The text pages are html version 2 compatible. We find that many people who visit the site have less than ideal internet connections, so we do everything we can to make the pages and graphics download quickly and work with as many different browsers as possible.

Return to Railroad Store main page.
Link to Classic Rail Car Homepage
Link to Calendar of railroadiana events
For more information, please contact Meg Coughlin at (215) 361-6176 or
Updated 1/12/00 by Meg Coughlin