The practice of painting advertisements on the freight cars of shippers and car owners' dates well back into the 19th century. But in the 1920s, leasing companies realized they could contract with shippers to pass back usage payments beyond some agreed minimum.
This led to an explosion of car leasing and, as this book amply demonstrates, a corresponding explosion of billboard decoration of refrigerator cars. Railroad objections, especially to the usage payment rebates, led to hearings before the Interstate Commerce Commission, which, taking effect in 1937, banned most of the leasing practices which had generated the car leasing bonanza. After World War II, a restrained billboard style made a modest comeback.
Car-side advertising was only a detail of that ICC decision. But because it was the basis for a remarkable diversity of refrigerator car paint schemes in the era, the photographs of these cars have long held an interest for historians, railfans, and Model Railroader's.
Thoroughly documented here are hundreds of these paint schemes, together with details of the leasing companies and car builders associated with the individual cars. More than 440 photographs, most previously unpublished, enrich this book. Even a modest amount of color information was available and is included.
The authors, both recognized authorities on railroad freight car history, have done a superb job of collecting and organizing the information presented here. The book is sure to appeal to modelers and to many who are interested in railroad history.
Foreword, acknowledgments, pp. 5-8,
Ch. 1: Historical Background, pp. 9-18,
Ch. 2: Early Billboard Refrigerator Cars, pp. 19-34,
Ch. 3: Billboard Reefers of the 1920s and 1930s: Meat Packers, pp. 35-46,
Ch. 4: North American Despatch, pp. 47-72,
Ch. 5: North Western Refrigerator and Western Refrigerator Lines, pp. 73-92,
Ch. 6: Merchants Despatch Transportation Company and Northern Refrigerator Car Company, pp. 93-122,
Ch. 7: General American Refrigerator Express, pp. 123-134,
Ch. 8: Union Refrigerator Transit Lines, pp. 135-156,
Ch. 9: Quaker City Refrigerator Express, pp. 157-166,
Ch. 10: Other Owners and Leasing Companies, pp. 167-180,
Ch. 11: End of an Era, pp. 181-186,
Ch. 12: Postwar Renaissance, pp. 187-199,
Color Gallery, pp. 200-206,
Appendix 1: Historical Color Renditions, pp. 207-208,
Appendix 2: Summary of ICC Ruling, pp. 209-212,
Bibliography, Index, pp. 213-222.
Signature Press, hardcover with jacket, 222 pages, 8.5 x 11 x 1 in. 443 photographs, some color information, appendices, bibliography, index.