These were in the running board tool box on a '14 Model T we bought 2 weeks ago and I don't have a clue what they were used for. They are 2 1/2 inches long and there were 50 or 60 of them in a small sack. Each one has a number on the top and I'm guessing they weren't used as nails. Any ideas what they were for? Thanks
Railroad date nails.
Those are railroad tie date nails. Typically put in the tie when it was made/went into service. Track inspectors could then determine how old ties were and possibly need replacement. they are collectable and usually sell in the $4-5 range.
Railroad date nails.
Railroad Date Nails.htm (20.5 k)
They were not only used by railroads - I see them on wooden utility poles in Minneapolis.
A casual internet search reveals the following:
Date nails were used by:
- Lumber Companies
- Creosoting Companies
- Rail Roads
- Utility Companies
- Government Agencies
More detailed info here:
Railroad date nails. The railroad I worked for used them both in ties and poles. I have seen them made from galvanized metal and solid copper.
They were discontinued in the poles in favor of a brand stamped about 4 or 5 feet from the ground.
There are people who collect them so they have some value.
Here are sold listings on ebay in contrast to the active listings in the above post:
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40%7CR40&_nkw=dated+railroad+nails&_in_kw= 1&_ex_kw=&_sacat=0&LH_Sold=1&_udlo=&_udhi=&_samilow=&_samihi=&_sadis=15&_stpos=& _sargn=-1%26saslc%3D1&_salic=1&_sop=12&_dmd=1&_ipg=50&LH_Complete=1
Thanks. A day isn't wasted when something new is learned, and I learned something new today. I just went through the "date nails" and found the oldest one was dated 1927 and the newest one was from 1969. Most of the nails are from the 1930s and 1940s. When I was a kid ( a long time ago ) I used to walk along the RR tracks picking dewberries and never noticed date nails but I'm sure they were there--I was mainly watching out for snakes. Thanks for the history lesson. BTW, there was also an old horseshoe nail in the mix
A neat idea is to find a pair for your year model car and reuse them as license plate bolts by cutting them to the appropriate length and threading the shanks to accept a nut.
You could also go to each of those house numbers on your street. Tell them you found it on their lawn and would they like to buy a new roof?
The storm and screen windows at the home that I grew up in, had numbered nail like that on them. The window frames had corresponding numbers, so that we could put the storm and screens in the right spot.
Common practice is/was to mark the window frame, storm and screen with Roman numerals by striking them with a chisel.
Your house probably had ACRO numbering tacks or similar window tacks - not as husky as the nails:
OK, we've covered date nails. Now who can tell why I found rock salt in the railroad yard sixty years ago?
Was it used by the railroad to melt ice in the switches?
Thanks, Erik. We had the round ones, like in your Acro photos.