Category Archives: Railway

Collecting Railway Letter Stamps – Update #3

Back on  June 14th I reported on the high prices being achieved by Irish Railway Letter Stamps and in the last few days what has to be some of the rarest survivors of the genre have appeared on the USA eBay site here: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/IRELAND-3d-Cavan-Leitrim-Railway-Co-Complete-sheet-/270618038135?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f02178f77#ht_1037wt_905

There are two different lots – each a full sheet – with the ‘Buy it Now‘ price being a breathtaking $600.00 per sheet. However, if you collect these rare birds you should have a look as there can’t be very many full sheets of any Irish Railway Company’s stamps in existence. Shame we don’t have a National Railway Museum!

Headhunters Barber Shop & Railway Museum – Enniskillen

Headhunters Barber Shop & Railway Museum 

5 Darling Street, Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh, BT74 7DP.

Located in the town centre, ten minutes walk from Enniskillen Bus Station.

Contact: Tel. (048) 6632 7488 or Email: info@headhuntersmuseum.com

Web: www.headhuntersmuseum.com

Facilities: Museum, toilet facilities and traditional barber shop.

Opening Hours: Open all year round, Tuesday-Saturday 9.00am – 5.30pm.  Closed Bank Holidays.

A traditional barber’s shop but not as we know it!

A trip to Headhunters Barber Shop & Railway Museum is like taking a remarkable journey into the past bringing the golden age of the railway vividly to life.  Although the railway network within Fermanagh closed in 1957 visitors can recall the memories, emotional appeal and excitement associated with the nostalgic era of steam travel.  Admission to the museum is free and is certainly a unique way of learning about Fermanagh’s railway heritage.  Established in 2002, with the help of former railway employees and enthusiasts this exhibition lovingly recreates working environments such as the General Manager’s Office, Station Booking Office and Railway Signal Box. This is complemented by a remarkable collection of railway memorabilia including uniforms, signalling instruments, signs, lamps, tableware, timetables, tickets and photographs from the three railway companies which operated throughout Co. Fermanagh and the border counties – The Great Northern Railway (Ireland), The Sligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway and The Clogher Valley Railway.  Whether you are a railway enthusiast, former railway employee or just a child brought up on ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’, why not combine your visit with a unique opportunity to have your hair professionally styled in the most nostalgic surroundings. It certainly is a Barbers Shop with a ‘rail’ difference!

The General Manager’s Office – a classic of the little seen Trompe l’œil genre.

Other Local Attractions: Within ten minutes walking distance are Enniskillen Castle Museums, The Buttermarket Craft Centre, Forthill Park & Coles Monument and the MV Kestrel Waterbus to Devenish Island.  Other local attractions include Marble Arch Caves, Belleek Pottery, Castle Archdale Country Park, Sheelin Irish Lace Museum and National Trust properties at Florence Court, Castlecoole and Crom.

Further information here:  http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/

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Headhunters Museum is a tribute to the collecting passion of Selwyn Johnston and professionalism with which he has approached the daunting task of building up such a niche collection from railways that disappeared from the local landscape more than half a century ago. If you’re in the North West be sure to drop in for a short back and sides.

Collecting Railway Letter Stamps – Update


Last year I posted on this subject (Nov.25th) and mentioned that this previously Cinderella area of stamp collecting was seeing a big increase in interest and recent sales on eBay have been quite remarkable. The block of Cavan & Leitrim Railway stamps, pictured above, sold on eBay a few days ago for an incredible £123.00. Not bad considering that they could have been had for 25% of that only a couple of years ago!

Collecting Railway Letter Stamps



In the days when the Post Office held a complete monopoly of the mails it was possible for the private individual or business to also send post by rail, by affixing the normal postage stamp plus a railway company stamp and presenting it the station for carriage on the next available service. This maintained the Post Office’s monopoly while producing a useful source of income for the railway companies. This system operated in the UK and Ireland from 1891 to 1947 and led to wide variety of stamps being issued by the various independent railway companies.
These stamps are of interest to the specialist stamp collector as well to the railwayana collector but despite their rarity they remain a Cinderella item and, as such, can still be bought quite cheaply. The unused block featured here were issued by the West Clare Railway Company in the 1890s and were purchased on eBay in 2004 for the paltry sum of €10. A very cheap way to begin a collection of genuine memorabilia from this long gone railway made famous by Percy French’s song “Are you right there Michael?”
Given the prices achieved by far more common Irish postage stamps there is only one way that these curiosities are going – so the message is get in there now! Apart from eBay the stamps occasionally turn up at the various Antiques & Collectors Fairs around the country.

I wrote the above piece five years ago and in the intervening period the price of railway letter stamps has spiralled upwards. In recent months similar blocks of unused stamps have been selling on eBay for €80/90! Too rich for me at that price.

Collecting: Railway Letter Stamps


In the days when the Post Office held a complete monopoly of the mails it was possible for the private individual or business to also send post by rail, by affixing the normal postage stamp plus a railway company stamp and presenting it at their nearest station for forwarding by the next available service. This maintained the Post Office’s monopoly while producing a useful source of income for the railway companies. This system operated in the UK and Ireland from 1891 until 1947, and led to a wide variety of stamps being issued by the many independent railway companies.

These stamps are of interest to the specialist stamp collector as well to the railway enthusiast but despite their rarity they remain something of a Cinderella item and, as such, can still be bought quite cheaply. The unused block featured here were issued by the West Clare Railway Company in the 1890s and were purchased on eBay in 2004 for the paltry sum of €10. A very cheap way to begin a collection of genuine memorabilia from this long gone railway made famous by Percy French’s song “Are you right there Michael?”

Given the prices achieved by far more common Irish postage stamps there is only one way that these curiosities are going – so the message is don’t miss the boat! Apart form eBay these stamps turn up occasionally at the various Antiques Fairs around the country.

Gallery 29 – A Special Place!

Travel posters, particularly those from the 1920/50s are still a comparatively cheap way of acquiring the work of well known Irish artists such as Paul Henry, Maurice Wilks, Hugo d’Alesi and Norman Wilkinson. While prices have increased steeply in recent years with a Paul Henry poster of Lough Derg now costing anything up to €2,000 the original work would cost a six-figure sum. Some posters are now almost as rare as the original with few surviving – they were, after all, supposed to be pasted on to railway station noticeboards! A poster dating from circa 1900, commissioned by the Midland, Great Western Railway Company, featuring a spectacular montage of West of Ireland scenes by the artist F.Hugo d’Alesi fetched €3,500 at auction in England in 2001 – believed to be a record for an Irish travel poster.

Several companies now offer full size reproductions of classic posters, of varying quality, but they are a poor substitute for the original and have little or no resale value.

Gallery 29 offers an enormous range of original travel posters as well as general Irish & European advertising posters from the 1890s to the 1970s displayed in an Art Gallery style setting. Lithographic posters represent a seriously good investment and, properly looked after, will appreciate in value over the coming years. Be warned however, as these beautiful items are ‘must-haves’ and if you are bitten by the bug you’ll need to have deep pockets!

Gallery 29,

29 Molesworth Street, Dublin.2.

Tel: (01) 642 5784

Website: http://www.gallery29.ie/

Open: Tues/Sat. 10am-6pm