Sunday, March 04, 2007

Graham Claytor's Collection

About 30 years ago Ward Kimball did a brief story for TTOS on Graham Claytor. It was kind of strange because I remember hearing his name from when I was a kid.

I guarantee I would have remembered him (because I was playing with trains at the time this article was published) if I had known he collected old trains like Voltamp, Carlisle and Finch, Knapp and Howard.

Let me apologize up front for the quality of the pictures. While high quality film and photography was around in the 1970's, cheap 4 color printing really wasn't cheap. Ergo, these were the best my HP Scanner and my touch up skills could muster.

Graham Claytor was kind of an unusual guy. Both Graham and his wife had made the most out of their lives; both were career US Navy people and were hero's in their own right. They also loved trains. There's a story about them getting up at 4 am to follow the Washington Trolley snow plows while they cleared the right of way for the day's traffic (it's a true story by the way).

You can find out more via Wikipedia about W. Graham Claytor here. Most of the TTOS article is Ward discussing how amazed he was that a secretary of the navy and his wife could collect trains. Graham was secretary of the navy under Jimmy Carter. The truth is that his travels gave him access to collectors and toys others could only dream about. And at that point in history (50's, 60's and 70's) Carlisle and Finch, Knapp, Howard and so on weren't hot collectibles. Everyone was still looking for that favorite 400E or 1010 Interurban.

This guy had one amazing collection. I'll post some additional pics later. When I see these pics, I marvel at how many great items are made prior to World War I and World War II that don't have the Lionel "L" on them. When I was first flicking through the old magazines I had a slight sense of deja vu; predominantly because of the recent Pride Lines Voltamp production.

His wife collected Victorian Doll Houses. Honestly, I was amazed that his wife let him display his trains all over the house. I catch huge flack when one of my trains finds its' way anywhere outside of my little sandbox.

By the way, as a side note, long after this article was published Graham Claytor was the key guy that brought Amtrak out of the red and into the black. He retired from Amtrak in 1993 and passed away in 1994. This is one secretary of the navy I wish I had known!


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