Saturday, September 14, 2013

SCORE! - Book Review

New York Harbor Railroads in Color, Volume 1 by Tom Flagg was printed in 2000.   Despite a longtime fascination with New York Harbor railroad operations, I never bought this book when it was released.  I was temporarily disengaged from Model Railroading and Trains due to raising two young children at the time, and also, not being able to bring myself to pay those Morning Sun book prices.   I swore, at the time, I'd never pay $50 for a 1/2" thick train picture book, or for that matter, a $100 HO locomotive or $30 freight car.  Well you know how it goes - never say never.    By the time I wanted to buy the book, there were none available at a price I could afford.  The mistake became even more evident after I was able to pick up a New York Harbor Railroads in Color Volume 2 a year or so ago.   Amazon and eBay prices ranged between $200 and $350 - depressing.     Finally I found a copy friday, at an antique store on a back road southern New Jersey town - for $40!    I've been having good luck lately at antique stores with train books and model railroad items.   I think this must be for a few reasons - one, the aging of this hobby means lots of collections picked up by dealers.  Some of these dealers know what they have, others don't take the time to research and the result is usually a bargain.  A trend I notice is that dealers, unfamiliar with railroad books, tend to price them by age.  The problem with this is that a lot of the stuff published in the 50's - early 80's is sort of blah and very general, with grainy photos - generally, no meat to the text.  More recent (last 30 years) small publishing runs of books with very specific themes and subject matter are more appealing to me, and many times are more sought after books.   There were several titles alongside this book that were priced higher or the same - they were much older, but can usually be found for less than $10 on many used book store shelves.     As far as a review,  this book is first rate and if you're the least bit interested in rail marine operations, and can find it, buy it.    Tom was an old SIA comrade and I figured that anything he put out wouldn't disappoint.  His knowledge of industry and transport in New York Harbor is incredible.     The date ranges on many Morning Sun books, are deceptive - there are a handful of photos from the 1950's and the rest are late 60's through the 80's.    This book is full of photos from the 1950's and early 60's.    This is important to me as I model the 1950's.  From what I've seen, there was a color shift of sorts in the late 60's.   Freight car colors - building colors - materials used in buildings - and ballast colors.    The 50's seem to have more muted colors - ballast was mostly black, finer, dirtier,...etc.    Buildings are mostly grays, reds, and browns, with industrial structures almost invariably, black.    This book really displays those tones and colors in many, many period shots.  An added bonus are the interior shots of engine rooms, steering gear, wheel houses,..etc..  

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