VERY RARE CARVED OAK BUILDER'S MODEL OF THE 'ALPHA' 4-4-0 LOCOMOTIVE
Executed circa 1860-80.
Height 24 ½ in. by Width 95 ¾ in. by Depth 15 ⅜ in.
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Gerald Kornblau, New York;
Allan Stone, Rye, New York;
Christie's, New York, The Collection of Allan Stone, November 12, 2007, lot 634;
Allan Katz, Woodbridge, Connecticut.
Alpha is a striking American 4-4-0 steam locomotive engine model presumably created as a presentation model for the potential sale and construction of a full-sized engine. Of impressive scale, this engine is exquisitely constructed of oak and brass with intricate attention to detail. The locomotive is a classically American engine from the height of the nation's railroad expansion. It is similar to the locomotive engine popularized in Buster Keaton's 1927 classic film, The General. This film satirized the great locomotive chase in 1862 where the General was commandeered by a group of Union volunteers led by James J. Andrews to cripple the Confederacy's transportation network. Alpha also holds strong parallels the Union Pacific Railroads locomotive, Jupiter, which met the Central Pacific Railroads No. 119 at Promontory Point, Utah to complete the Transcontinental Railroad. This historic moment created unprecedented economic and population growth in the American West and finally united America from coast to coast. The design of Alpha became the backbone of the American railroads throughout the latter half of the 19th century and remains the quintessential symbol of American rail prowess.