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Sunday, January 07, 2007

History: Baldwin Locomotive Works Stock Certificate

Beautifully engraved certificate from the Baldwin Locomotive Works issued no later than 1950. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of the company's founder, Matthias W. Baldwin. This item has the printed signatures of the Company’s President and Secretary and is over 53 years old.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works, at Philadelphia, had a humble beginning. Matthias W. Baldwin, the founder, was a jeweler and silversmith, who, in 1825, formed a partnership with a machinist, and engaged in the manufacture of bookbinders' tools and cylinders for calico printing. Mr. Baldwin then designed and constructed for his own use a small stationary engine, the workmanship of which was so excellent and its efficiency so great that he was solicited to build others like it for various parties, and thus led to turn his attention to steam engineering. In 1831 he built a miniature locomotive, for exhibition, which was so much of a success that he that year received an order from a railway company for a locomotive to run on a short line to the suburbs of Philadelphia. The difficulties attending the execution of this first order were such as our mechanics now cannot easily comprehend. Tools were not easily obtainable; the cylinders were bored by a chisel fixed in a block of wood and turned by hand; the workmen had to be taught how to do nearly all the work; and Mr. Baldwin himself did a great deal of it with his own hands. It was under such circumstances that his first locomotive, christened Old Ironsides, was completed and tried on the road, November 23, 1832. It was at once put in active service, and did duty for over a score of years. It was a four-wheeled engine, weighing a little over five tons; the driving wheels were 54 inches in diameter, and the cylinders 9½ inches in diameter by 18 inches stroke. The wheels were of heavy cast iron hubs, with wooden spokes and rims, and wrought iron tires, and the frame was of wood placed outside the wheels.

From the time the company began to when this certificate was issued, they built over 60,000 locomotives.

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