In 1831, the first working steam locomotive built to travel in New York state took its first trip from Albany to Schenectady. Named the DeWitt Clinton, after the late governor of New York, it pulled three cars with passengers on the sixteen mile run for the Mohawk & Hudson Rail Road Company.
One hundred and nineteen years later, a talented artist painted this tin tray black to imitate the japanning on antique tole trays and stenciled the image of the train on the front. Using authentic shades of metallic copper, gold and bronze on the train, the surrounding scenery and the leaves adorning the canted rim, the artist added red and green to the clothing of the riders.
On the reverse of the tray, the story of this momentous inaugural trip is hand lettered, along with a list of the passengers' names. While parts of it have disappeared through wear, it is still mostly readable. The artist signed her initials MLS at the bottom right corner and on the left corner, he or she wrote “MLS to WAS, Dec, 1950”.
The front of this tray is in excellent condition, with some chips around the edges; the decorations are intact and unfaded, having been protected by a layer of lacquer. As we mentioned, the back of the tray has borne the wear. Measuring 16 ½ inches long and 12 ½ inches top to bottom, the tray is 2 inches high and weighs 2 pounds 2 ounces.
This seventy year old tray is a beautiful decorative piece that also has great appeal for train lovers, New York fans and history buffs.