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Official Gifts of
the McGinnis Era
May 1st, 1998
corporations give 'official' gifts to important customers, media
people, government officials, and other VIPs as a way of
cementing business relationships. Such gifts were typically given
away by railroad executives during press conferences, on
birthdays, and for various other special occasions. Here is a
small selection of rare New Haven Railroad official gifts from
the McGinnis era. All materials from the collection of Marc
This is a Cartier travel
alarm clock from the New Haven Railroad's president's
office. The clock is brass plated, folds up, and runs for
a week on a single winding. These things were supposedly
presented to VIPs during 1955 by president Patrick B.
This is the reverse of the
Cartier travel alarm clock. The case of the clock is
engraved with the famous NH logo. Above the logo is
engraved a facsimile of McGinnis's signature and below
the logo is engraved 'President of the New Haven
This gold painted spike
was presented to VIPs who attended the completion of what
the New Haven Railroad called the first large scale
application of continuously welded rail in the east at
Branford, Ct. on June 21st, 1955. The card suggested that
the spike be used as a paperweight.
administration ordered a couple of different batches of
cigarette lighters from Zippo during 1954 and 1955. This
lighter came from the first batch, which was ordered for
the ACF Talgo demonstrator train press run in June 1954.
The front of the lighter is engraved with 'New Haven
Railroad', 'Patrick B. McGinnis', 'President'. Legend has
it that the box containing the first batch of lighters
was stolen from the Talgo train as it sat in Boston's
Zippo cigarette lighters
ordered during 1955 were engraved with Herbert Matter's
new image NH logo on the front. Lighters are known to
exist with all-red logos and all-white logos too. These
cigarette lighters were typically presented to shippers
and were highly prized.
The back sides of the 1955
batches of Zippo lighters were all engraved with 'Patrick
B. McGinnis', 'President', 'New Haven Railroad'.
Passes good for free
travel were probably the most highly prized gifts given
out by the New Haven. All passenger railroads gave such
passes to executives from other railroads, VIPs, and
retired employees. Under the McGinnis administration, the
New Haven also gave passes to the widows of deceased
employees. This leather holder contains a lifetime pass.
Playing cards were not
only sold on passenger trains but they were also given
away by the railroad as official gifts. McGinnis era
playing cards with the new image NH logo and red, white,
and black colors are not as common as other styles of New
Haven Railroad playing cards. This is a presentation
boxed double deck.
The New Haven Railroad
ordered special cosmetic compacts from Evans during 1955
which were presented by the president's office to the
wives of important shippers and other VIPs. The compacts
may also have been presented to women who bought the
first Ladies Day Fare tickets for Wednesday shopping
trips to New York City. These compacts were well
constructed of chrome or nickel plated brass and featured
a mirror and powder well under a trap door. They featured
a white painted NH logo on the lid which was engraved
into the metal using a milling machine, an expensive
touch to be sure!