Holman Locomotive and Speeding Truck Company

I have been slowly expanding my collection of banknotes. I renewed this interest earlier this fall and decided I needed a theme for my collection. I decided on trains and ships. One day I was looking around a website that specializes in old stock certificates and ran across an interesting item that not only fit my theme but was the same size as a banknote.

The Holman Locomotive and Speeding Truck Co. was incorporated under the laws of Iowa back in the 1890’s. In Sioux City if I remember correctly. It was a scam where the company made false claims of a locomotive with increased speed by using a special design of its wheels. This startling curiosity of locomotive design was to become known as Holman’s Absurdity.

Practical railroad men immediately assailed the design as a monstrosity: “It is a humbug. When we first heard of the Holman locomotive we supposed that it was the invention of some harmless crank who did not understand the elementary principles of mechanics, but we now believe that it has been, since its inception, an ostentatious machine designed to allure unwary capitalists into an investment which will be of the same real value as throwing gold coin over Niagara Falls.”

Nevertheless, the parties’ exploiting the Holman locomotive advertised their stock in numerous newspapers claiming that the invention was certain to come rapidly into general use and was destined to be the locomotive of the future. The engine was run a few trips on a straight railroad in New Jersey, which was used merely as a stimulant to stock selling. Unfortunately many people with limited savings were allured, into investing their hard earned money in this swindle, and they might as well have given it to a highway robber.