Rails and Sails


Rails & Sails Topps released their Rails & Sails card set in 1955. There are 200 cards in the set, each measuring 2-1/2" by 3-3/4".

As the name implies, this card set is devoted to locomotives (both contemporary and vintage) and sailing ships - not only the kind with actual cloth sails. The mix actually runs to 130 Rails and only 70 Sails, probably owing to young boys' fascination with trains. Nevertheless, this rather large card set is a favorite among many collectors, mainly due to the vivid and lifelike color artwork found on every card.

The card fronts in this set offer color artwork of either locomotives (as well as train cars) or ships. The train cards have a white border around the image as well as a small inset train company logo or date, as well as the name of the vehicle at the bottom. The ship cards have the name of the vessel and its type superimposed over the image, with no borders.

Card backs for the trains feature at the top left a railroad signal containing the card number, followed by the name of the vehicle, its type, and then a block of text. At the right is a trivia quesion with a small amusing illustration, which is answered below the image. At the bottom across the length of the card is another image, that of a couple of different types of railroad cars and engines sitting on a track; these are meant to form one long cartoon railroad if the collector sits several cards side by side on their fronts.

The card backs for the ships offer different semaphor or insignia illustrations along the top, below which is the name or type of ship pictured, and a block of text. To the right is a small illustration or cartoon (such as 'Sea Myths'). To the lower left is the card number within an anchor design.

Note: Apparently certain card numbers are more difficult to find than others; #'s 81 to 130 and 151 to 200 may prove to be more elusive, and thus more expensive, than other card numbers in the set.

Note: These cards were sold in Canada also, and 72 of the train cards were apparently sold in the U.K. as Railway Engines.

Note: Some of the cards from this set were distributed for a time in packages of Doeskin Tissues. These are variations where the name Doeskin can be found on the card back. These cards are worth about 50% more than the regular Topps issues.

The American Card Catalog reference number is R714-17.

Value: Individual cards in this set may be worth $2.00 to $15.00 each, depending on the card number. A full set of 200 cards in Excellent condition can be worth as much as $1,800.00 to $2,000.00.


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