From canals to ferries, horse drawn omnibus to park and ride, Ronnie Breingan’s collection charts the metallic history of transport. It’s only just over 100 pieces but what variety!
The tickets and tokens are mainly Scottish but include a smattering of English and other ones too. The earliest tickets in the sale are the Union Canal tokens, giving you time or distance along the route. These tickets, our opening lots, are very plain yet potent witnesses to the industrial revolution. The Union Canal opened in 1822, having been built in only 4 years. It ensured that coal from the west reached the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. ( photo: lot MB97002).
Ferry and steamer tickets feature prominently, ranging from Orkney (MB97060 North of Scotland and Orkney & Shetland Steam Navigation Compy ) down into England. For example, the Woodside Ferry 1865 yearly pass token for the Mersey is another very early and rare ticket for Liverpool (MB97082). Functional yet pretty with scalloped edges it has a hole made so that it can be worn on a chain, ready to be shown when necessary.
There are lots of horse drawn omnibus tickets and later bus tickets, for Glasgow and other parts of Scotland. You paid your fare and chose whether to brave the wind and rain on the top deck for a discount or ride in comfort inside. Our favourites among the pictorial tickets have to be the ones for the funeral directors and the ones with the horse and omnibus. Lot MB97009 is a particularly rare example for Glasgow, James Walker Funeral Undertaker. For four pence the horse and the hearse no doubt were available for work. This ticket wasn’t listed in Smith* and was acquired from Norman Brodie. In that sale it was noted as possibly the only surviving specimen.
Another way of making extra money was hitching a railway carriage for a toll price to a coal wagon train like Mr J Young in Edinburgh and Dalkeith. Passengers were a profitable addition to a coal delivery line in the early history of railways (MB97058 1831-1845).
Not everything is ancient history. There are several checks for the modern Glasgow Strathclyde Passenger Transport ‘park and ride’; car park tickets which allowed you to then take the underground to the centre of town.
The large number of tokens and work checks issued to shipbuilders, engineers and garage mechanics reference their importance to Scottish industry. Some ring out like a roll call of the best: Thomason and John Brown, Govan, Clydebank, Rolls Royce. Others make you dream of days out and holidays like the Loch Tay Steamers, linking Killin and Kenmore. However you collect read through the collection. You’ll find crossovers linking to other series, other countries. Enjoy the journey!
The Ronnie Breingan collection will be sold in a timed auction here on 17 March from 12 noon onwards. Bid online please!
- A copy of Smith is one of the auction lots in this sale: see lot MB97500 Check List of the Transportation Tokens of Great Britain and Ireland by Kenneth Smith.