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Woodruff Sleeping and Parlor Coach Company (Signed by Daniel Chase Corbin)


SKU: 1825
Product Details

Beautifully engraved antique bond certificate from the Woodruff Sleeping and Parlor Coach Company dating back to the 1880's. This document, which is signed by the company President (Daniel Chase Corbin) and Secretary, was printed by the Homer Lee Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 9 1/2" (w) by 14 1/2" (h). 


This certificate features an intricate vignette of a train exiting a riverside tunnel. 

You will receive the exact certificate pictured.

    Historical Context

    At the age of 16, Theodore Tuttle Woodruff (1811-1892) happily left the farm and became an apprentice wagon-maker. He worked at that trade for three years and then went into a foundry to learn pattern-making. As a journeyman pattern-maker he worked for the earliest car builders in Springfield, MA. He may have worked at Dean, Packard & Mills Car Builders in Springfield and thus had a friendship with Caleb Parker at the time Parker was a principal in Barney, Parker & Company (predecessor to Barney & Smith).

    About 1855, Woodruff became Master Car Builder for the Terre Haute, Alton & St. Louis Railroad at Alton, IL. At the time of his employment, Barney, Parker & Co. was engaged to build cars for that railroad. On 2 December 1856, Woodruff received two patents for a convertible car seat (Nos. 16,159 and 16,160). He went back to Springfield, MA, where he had a car built by T.W. Wason & Co. using the seats.
    Woodruff's design divided the car into sections, with seats permanently fixed in pairs facing each other. A lower and a middle berth were produced by a complicated arrangement of pivoted seat cushions. An upper was produced by hinged frames that folded up against the wall by day. At night curtains were hung between and in front of the berths.

    Woodruff’s car was tried on the New York Central in 1858, with Woodruff personally managing it. While there, he met Andrew Carnegie, who sent him to see T.A. Scott, superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who encouraged Woodruff to organize a company to build and operate the cars. Woodruff organized T.T. Woodruff & Company, and Carnegie, of course, was one of the investors. The Woodruff car was withdrawn from the NYC and adopted by the Pennsylvania Railroad for use on its run between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It met with considerable success, and by the end of 1858 eight of the midwestern railroads had Woodruff cars in service. Barney, Parker & Company was engaged to build some of Woodruff’s patented sleeping cars.

    The Central Transportation Company was established in 1862, with Woodruff as the principal stockholder and his brother Jonah (1809-1876) as manager. Woodruff assigned his patents to the new company, as did several other inventors. But in 1864 Woodruff assigned all his interests to one of the other stockholders and retired from the sleeping car business.

    Woodruff was an inveterate mechanic, inventor and promoter. Among his inventions -- besides the sleeping car apparatus -- were a coffee-hulling machine, a surveyor's compass and a steam plow. He was killed in 1892 when -- at the ripe old age of 81 -- he was struck by a train while on a business trip to promote his new method of propelling ships.

    In 1870, Central Transportation became involved with Pullman in a patent infringement suit and after costly litigation was leased to, and assigned most of its patent rights to, the Pullmans Palace Car Company.

    Theodore Woodruff’s brother Jonah decided to begin again and organize his own line. He had been involved in sleeping car design and had acquired several patents of his own. His new company -- the Woodruff Sleeping & Parlor Coach Company. -- was expanding nicely when his health gave way in the mid-1870s, and he died in 1876.

    The December 1888 issue of the Official Railway Guide startled the railroad world (and most of all George M. Pullman) with this announcement: "Union Palace Car Co.... will commence operating SLEEPING AND PARLOR CARS on about 15,000 miles of railroad in January 1889." Formed by Job H. Jackson of Jackson & Sharp, Union Palace Car Co. was in effect a consolidation of Woodruff Sleeping & Parlor Coach Co. and Mann Boudoir Car Co. These two companies operated a total of 34 cars on about 5,000 miles of railroads in the East, South, and Midwest. Pullman lost no time. Two months later Union Palace was purchased by Pullmans Palace Car Company for $2.5 million. Some parts of Union seem to have survived, because it was not finally dissolved until 1899.

    Daniel Chase Corbin

    Daniel Chase Corbin's Signature

    Daniel Chase Corbin's Signature


    Daniel Chase Corbin was born in Newport, New Hampshire. In 1860 he married Louisa Jackson; they had three children - Austin, Louise, and Mary. Mr. Corbin was actively involved in the growth and settlement of the West by doing everything from survey work and land transactions in Nebraska, government freighting in Utah and Colorado, to banking in Montana. All of this he did before settling in Spokane, where he quickly became a financial success.

    In 1886 after the discovery of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan mines in the Coeur d'Alene Mountains of Northern Idaho, Corbin helped erect the first concentrator at the mine sites. Corbin then built the Spokane Falls & Idaho Railroad and the Coeur d'Alene Railway & Navigation Company, which connected the "jump off" point of Spokane with those lead and silver mining districts. Corbin's railroads were pivotal in establishing Spokane's position as a railroad center in the Inland Northwest. In 1888 he sold the line to the Northern Pacific. Daniel Corbin continued his entrepreneurship with the 1899 development of the Spokane Valley Land and Water Company, bringing the Spokane Valley its first irrigation project.

    Mr. Corbin's first wife, Louisa, and their three children never lived in the house now known as the D.C. Corbin House. Unhappy with life in Spokane, Louisa moved with their children to Europe. Daughter Louise became the wife of the Duke of Oxford in England. Austin returned to Spokane as a young adult and worked with his father. Daughter Mary, after a brief marriage to Kirtland K. Cutter, married an English nobleman, Edward Balguy of London. Louisa died in Paris in 1900. Mary was later divorced and moved to California where she died in the late 1930's.

    For Mr. Corbin's important role in developing Spokane, the Spokane Chamber of Commerce elected him its first honorary member in 1915. D.C. Corbin died in 1918 and bequeathed the house to his second wife, Anna L. Corbin, a colorful character in her own right.