Q: I have an old copper spittoon that I bought in a store that sold used items. On both sides there is a picture of a train and the name "Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad." I would like to know how old it is and what it's worth.
A: Your spittoon is one of the more common "fake" railroad spittoons that show up for sale in shops and on the Internet. The fake Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad spittoons are rather tall and vase-shaped. Authentic railroad spittoons are squatty and low to the ground so that they didn't tip over when the train was moving. Construction of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad began in 1852 and was completed in 1859. The engineer on the first passenger train between the two cities brought a bottle of Mississippi River water to pour into the Missouri River to celebrate the connection of Hannibal (on the Mississippi River) and St. Joseph (on the Missouri River). It is amusing but not worth more than $20.