Collecting Manhole Covers

Collecting Manhole Covers

#Collecting #Manhole #Covers

Manhole covers are not often seen as collectibles, especially due to their weight – 150 to 250 pounds. Most manhole covers in the U.S. were made of cast iron leaving them inexpensive to manufacture; sturdy enough to hold up to constant traffic and heavy enough to deter most, but not all, thieves from absconding with them to sell for scrap.

The earliest manhole covers were stone slabs or pieces of wood that afforded entry to enclosed ditches that transported sewage. This rudimentary model was utilized beginning from 3500 BC up to as late as the 1850s. From that point on modern manholes were used. Markings on manhole covers may designate which type of facilities exist below, be it a local water system or a natural gas firm or other service.

Toronto antique manhole cover from 1889; $1,644 on Etsy.

Although too cumbersome for most collectors, the varying designs and words embossed on manhole covers have prompted people to collect pictures of these examples of urban art, not just from the United States but from around the world also. But some collectors are not satisfied with simply a photograph: they want the real thing.

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