"How Collecting can be Stranger than Fiction"


Dave Keller


One such story was one I related sometime back about 3 LIRR steam negatives I ordered on approval from a firm in California back in 1969 and when they arrived, I found they were being sold for $50 each, a princely sum for today, not to mention what that sum meant back then, so I returned them post-haste, fully insured, certified with signature confirmation requested.

G5s-25-RichHill-1-37.jpg (54165 bytes)
 LIRR G5s #25 Richmond Hill 01/1937
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G5s-30-Crew-RichHill-5-37.jpg (55318 bytes)
LIRR G5s #30 Crew Richmond Hill 05/1937
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G53sd-143-RichHill-11-36.jpg (40305 bytes)
LIRR G53sd #143 Richmond Hill 11/1936
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Fast forward to several years ago and the same 3 crystal clear, perfectly-exposed, postcard-sized negatives came up for bid on e-Bay from the same firm in California, but now under new ownership and the new owner has been slowly listing his vast negative archive on e-Bay and making money that way. I won all three negatives, uncontested, at about $7.00 each!!!!!!!!!!!!

1969-2007 . . . . . Who'd have ever thought I'd ever see those negatives again, let alone own them and at a great price each? That was indeed Divine intervention there, buddy!

Well . . . . another story has just occurred . . . maybe not as amazing as the one above, but equally as interesting:

Back in the same era (i.e. 1967, 1968, 1969) I purchased a number of negatives really cheap ($ .65, $ .85, $1.25) from a railfan/photographer named Walter J. Broschart of New Jersey. He was the kind of guy, I found out later, who shot all sorts of stuff . . . trains, ELs, trolleys, etc., etc. and sold the negatives on fan trips, etc. out of his briefcase and always owed someone money and was running all the time from creditors.

Well . . . I stopped hearing from Walter Broschart and one day, out of the blue, perhaps 6 months to a year later, I hear from a guy out in Washington state, with the name of W. J. Edwards. Nothing strange about that, but he sent me, unsolicited, negatives for sale on approval, and in the exact same handwriting that I so vividly remember . . . . bad hen's scratch on little strips of paper, that was used for something else and he wrote on the back!!!

I asked him if he were the same guy from NJ . . . . and he admitted to it. But, I guess, he finally had to go cross-country and change his name to finally flee the creditors. He continued to send me stuff on approval. 

He dated his stuff with no rhyme nor reason . . . . two negatives of the same subject, shot the same day, same lighting, just a slightly different angle: one selling for $ .65 and the other selling for $1.25. Both having two different dates, one reasonable, and one out in left field . . . not a clue. But great stuff, nonetheless, and I managed to figure out more accurate dates based upon equipment paint schemes, automobiles in the scenes, etc., etc.

Then, one day, I stopped hearing from him. He never again sent me a negative and I never heard from him again. 

All his shots were similar types of great views, as you've seen in the LIRR books we've put out. Overall scene, two platforms, station building, sometimes station name visible and an MU train or steam train passing through!!! Great stuff. Wished he had sent more!

Over the years, I always was unhappy that he photographed all these stations but never took one of Bellaire. I never shot Bellaire myself out of stupidity and laziness and one day it was gone.

Fast forward to 2008 and I'm looking through someone's collection of photos and lo-and-behold . . . there's a shot of Bellaire: platforms, depot building, station signs and an MU passing through . . . a VERY familiar style of scene and . . . on the back of the photo: "Walter Broschart photo."

Damn!!! Someone else got it . . . 

Now it's 2009 and I've been purchasing negatives and slides from a guy on e-Bay who lives in The Villages, FL (near Lady Lake) and is an ex-Long Islander. I asked him if he had any shots of Bellaire station that he could sell me so I could die happy.

He e-mailed me back and said he'd sell me a nice negative he dug out that showed both station platforms, the depot, signs on both buildings AND an MU train. (You can see where this is headed . . . or else you're as dense as a chunk of anthracite coal!) ;-)

I sent him a check immediately and I received the negative yesterday. On the negative envelope it said "Broschart photo" and it was the negative of that Bellaire shot I saw in 2008!!!BellaireViewEast_traineastboundexpresstrack.jpg (115610 bytes)


Bellaire Station view East train eastbound on expresstrack
Archive: Dave Keller



            "Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow!"