Friday, June 10, 2011

The Artist Has Left Us....

I had said I would post a few pictures with the passing of Mr. James Cohen of Trumbull, CT.. He was a very good friend (and not just of me) but of Joe Mania, Bob and Magaret McCoy, George Sirus and many of the other folks that built rare and unsual toys after World War II. He spent much of his time and youth in Bridgeport, CT. He built some pretty amazing layouts when he was younger, specifically in O Gauge. As you can see below though, he really enjoyed larger trains.

The maroon 1912 was specially weathered by Jim. He had varying techniques and degrees of aging and weathering. The TCA had asked him to limit the weathering process because at one point, his weathered trains (that he had built and weathered) were impossible to tell from the original. Yep, they were that good. And even with his initials on the bottom, it still shook some folks up enough to ask him not to age the trains or to mark them heavily so as not to be passed off as the real thing.

If you spent any time around Jim, his garage and basement always smelled like train paint and lacquer. It didn't bother me too much and it was very distinctive. I think he stopped noticing it after years of exposure. The paint booth in his garage was really cool and worked beautifully. This guy was one of those rare American artists that just honed his craft to perfection. As kind of an interesting footnote, I went with Jim to the shop in New Haven (it's just off the Yale Campus) where he got the rubber stamping for the New York, New Haven and Hartford stamps for these. He didn't use decals like many other manufacturers do. It really does make a difference in the quality of the train. The place was kind of interesting too, very old building in a very busy part of town. The guy was constantly picking up new stamps, or some kind of new die to make a window or truck. I wish there was a way to give him 20 more years...

When I see the brass 1912, I always think of Inca Treasure. Imagine what someone will think 1000 years from now when they find this thing. I'm pretty sure it will capture someone's imagination even then.

More later, I'll publish out some trolley pics and some unusual pieces.


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