The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].
The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].
The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].
The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].

The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].

Written by detective and spy Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency—“The Pinkertons”


The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives is a fictionalized crime detection story written by Allan Pinkerton (1819–1884), noted Scottish-American private detective and spy. This copy has a presentation inscription from Pinkerton’s son and successor, Robert Allan Pinkerton (1848–1907).

The inscription reads in full: “Comr. Frank Stott with compliments of Robt. A. Pinkerton.” Francis Horatio “Frank” Stott (1832–1900), the son of a woolen mill owner in Stottsville, Columbia County, New York, was for many years the “Commodore” of the Atlantic Yacht Club of Brooklyn.

After the death of his father, Robert A. Pinkerton and his twin brother, William, became co-directors of their father’s detective agency, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Allan Pinkerton’s The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives is a fictionalized account of crime in the railroad shipping business. In the preface, he writes:

The reader will notice that at several stages of this remarkable detective operation our theories and conclusions were at fault. I repeatedly found that we had no clue to follow. The criminals had utterly disappeared. Conducting such a search was like a traveler striking out upon a trackless prairie or diving into a trackless forest. Under such circumstances I certainly should have hesitated many times about proceeding further with the operation, both on account of the great expense involved and the absolute want of the faintest clue, had not the General Superintendent of the Adams’ Express Company, Henry Sanford, Esq., met me on each occasion with cheering expressions of confidence and encouragement and quite as prompt financial aid. ... The detective methods of past days and other countries, would certainly never be competent to the work which is performed by the modern Detective Agency. (ppxi–xii)

Pinkerton’s short story about early policing in Chicago, “Mr. Lafferty’s Guest,” concludes the book.

Allan Pinkerton emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1842. Moving to Chicago in 1850, he investigated counterfeiting for the U.S. Treasury Department, mail theft at the Chicago post office, and railroad theft, the latter involving an elaborate spy system. At this time, Pinkerton set up a private police force which later became known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency—popularly called “The Pinkertons.” Pinkerton’s motto, “We Never Sleep,” along with an image of an eye is stamped in gilt on both the upper cover and spine of of the book.

Pinkerton’s spying for the federal government continued during the Civil War. Notably, he foiled an assassination attempt against President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Pinkerton is also noted for his controversial work in infiltrating the secret Irish-American fraternity, The Molly Maguires, and for policing labor strikes. Pinkerton agents also helped to search for and kill such Wild West outlaws as Jesse James and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

According to American National Biography (ANB), “To tap into the popular ‘yellow book’ publications glamorizing the exploits of detectives, and at the same time correct many misrepresentations, [Allan] Pinkerton published sixteen detective books between 1874 and 1884. Some were matter-of-fact ‘true detective stories,’ which retold past cases, while others were not stories at all but descriptions of various crimes and criminals. Like Pinkerton’s detective activities, his literary efforts were a cooperative endeavor—different authors under his supervision put his memories on paper.”

The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives is the twelfth title in Allan Pinkerton’s series, Great Detective Books.


Description: The Rail-Road Forger and the Detectives [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].

New York: G.W. Carleton & Co., Publishers, MDCCCLXXXI [1881]. Frontispiece, [i]–xii, [13]–364, [1]–4 [publisher’s catalog], [4 (publisher’s ads)]pp. + Illustration plates. Sm. 8vo. Publisher’s illustrated green cloth, stamped in gilt and blind. Inscribed on preliminary leaf by author’s son, Robert A. Pinkerton. Some wear to head and tail of spine; some signatures proud or loosening from sewing structure; hinges just starting; good.

[3726640]

Price: $150.00