The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blow-Smoke, Part VII: The International Brotherhood of Scale-Craft Engineers

Continuing this series, the next to last issue published of The Scale-Craft Blow-Smoke newsletter was Volume 2, Number 3 for the summer of 1940. The main, featured item in this issue was the International Brotherhood of Scale-Craft Engineers, which they had conceived to promote model railroads in general and Scale-Craft products specifically. President Elliott Donnelley worked his interests in trains and fishing into his editorial when he wrote,
About nine months ago the International Brotherhood of Scale-Craft Engineers was conceived…. Since the first inaugural ceremonies which consisted of presenting a membership card, button and cap to Mr. Jim Leary, one of the veteran pilots of the Santa Fe “Chief,” and losing about two dozen caps and buttons to various members of the crew and travelers who were departing on the train …, we have had a great many comments pro and con. Some have thought the idea of the caps was childish, others have thought it marvelous, neither knowing exactly why. The real purpose of the Brotherhood is simply to bind together all the model railroaders who are enjoying the hobby through Scale-Craft kits and parts, and help them get the greatest possible amount of fun from it. The cap idea was presented first because we thought it would lend atmosphere, just like when you go fishing you use the oldest hat you can find and fill up the hatband with hooks and flies.
The main OO news was they had some specials related to freight cars that could land you also a free membership in the International Brotherhood of Scale-Craft Engineers and a button and an engineer’s cap! The cars on sale were the tank, hopper, and stock cars either in pairs for only $6.30 or one of each kit for only $9.45. This was a good savings over not only list price (a savings of $1.20) but also an especially good savings over the comparable O gauge deal which was only $16.70 for three cars.

I have never been much of an engineer’s cap or button person but the membership card is an intriguing item. Any copies out there? Many must have been printed up with this promotion for 1940. Maybe it is time for our own society, the International Brotherhood of American OO Enthusiasts perhaps?

The other OO item from this issue is on how you can convert a standard caboose into a bank, as seen here. I wonder how many were ever made? The process involved cutting a slot in the roof under the roof walk.

As this article is one of the shorter ones in the series I would also use this space to note that my general sense of this Blow-Smoke newsletter project for Scale-Craft was for these to be distributed in two ways. One was certainly on the counters of hobby shops. I now have, between originals and Xerox versions, multiple copies of all issues and there were different versions printed with differing back pages to suit I believe larger hobby shops. The other way this was used must have related as their business model changed toward mail order that they would be put in with any outgoing order to drum up more interest and sales. Scale-Craft seems to have viewed this to be a better use of resources than print advertising in this time frame, as advertising is frankly a rarity for them around the time this issue came out, 1940.

Next time we return to the Blow-Smoke newsletter we will conclude the series with news from the final issue. [Updated 2012].

Continue Blow-Smoke series

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