Q: I have a spittoon that was used on a railroad car. The inscription on the side says Union Pacific RR beneath a picture of a locomotive. The train looks like it is from the 1880s. How can I tell if this is an old railroad spittoon or a reproduction?
A: Railroad items are popular collectibles and reproductions of spittoons, chamber pots, lamps, signs, uniform buttons, blankets, and other items have been made. Most old spittoons were brass and were heavier at the bottom so that they wouldn't tip over. They are usually low, squat containers marked with the company's logo or initials. You may find some for sale at railroadiana shows. Reproduction spittoons are usually made of thinner brass, are taller and narrower, and are shaped like a bulbous vase. The Union Pacific Railroad spittoon with a picture of a locomotive is a common reproduction. Spittoons similar to yours usually sell for under $50.