Baldwin plates, or builder’s plates, were metal plates that were cast with identifying information and placed on the smokebox of a locomotive.
In the early days, there were quite a few companies manufacturing trains, but eventually, that number dwindled down to three major steam locomotive manufacturers — Baldwin Locomotive Works, American Locomotive Company (ALCO) and Lima Locomotive Works. Each company had a unique approach to designing its locomotive plates.
Learn more about train plates from Baldwin Locomotive Works with Erie Landmark Company, a division of Paul W. Zimmerman Foundries.
History of Baldwin Plates
Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, began in 1832 and was the largest builder of steam locomotives in the world until 1972. Baldwin builder’s plates included the builder’s name, the sequence number that related to its construction, the year and sometimes month of construction and the location of the builder.
For Baldwin plates, the company name appeared as “The Baldwin Locomotive Works” around the edges of the plate. However, the company had various names and partnerships over the years, so you might also see a name like “Burnham, Williams & Co.” or “Baldwin Lima Hamilton Co.” on the plate as well. Most plates include Philadelphia, U.S.A as the location of origin, along with the month and year of production.
When a locomotive was scrapped, the builder’s plates would often be kept as a memento. However, since these original plates can be expensive, many rail enthusiasts turn to builder plate replicas for their collectibles.
Authentic Baldwin Plate Replicas
Finding an original Baldwin train plate can be tough, and their prices might fall in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Additionally, it can be hard to find authentic plates in good, original condition and at a fair price.
For the enthusiast who wants their own piece of history, Erie Landmark Company can customize a Baldwin builder’s plate to your specifications. We are a bronze and aluminum foundry that crafts a range of custom products, including locomotive builder’s plates. Here’s how the process works:
- Choose whether you want bronze or aluminum for your replica builder’s plate.
- Contact our team with details of your design. If you have a specific plate in mind, you can send us photos or drawings of the original, or we can help you create a custom builder’s plate in the style of a traditional one.
- Let us know any other specifications for your plate, such as if you need holes for mounting it on drywall or brick.
- We’ll create a preliminary design draft and estimate, and we’re happy to revise our design until we have exactly what you want.
- Once you approve the final proof and price, we’ll get started producing your aluminum or bronze Baldwin plate replica.
Custom Baldwin Plates From Erie Landmark Company
Erie Landmark Company stands out in the industry because we have an in-house design team, unmatched quality, competitive pricing and decades of experience. We offer a personal touch to ensure the product is exactly as you imagined. If you want your train plate done fast, order our rush service to have it on its way in as little as two weeks.