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Notes on the Collection of Transfers
W. J. Sidis
116. What is a Derelict? By the expression "derelict transfers" I mean the discarded transfers frequently found lying about, abandoned by their rightful owners. Any such transfers picked up by a collector could legitimately be included as part of his collection, although a transfer collector should make it a strict rule never to present for fare any transfers not received by him in the usual course, in exchange for his own fare. Thus, a derelict transfer is to be used only for purposes of inclusion in a collection.
Derelict transfers are to be found almost any place where the use of transfers is frequent, and the collector should by no means overlook this possibility as an aid to the process of collecting. At transfer points, near where the transferring passengers would get off the issuing cars or on the receiving cars, is the most likely sort of place to find derelict transfers, though other places, especially vacant lots, etc., where papers are allowed to accumulate for a long time, are also very likely to prove productive.
Frequently derelict transfers are found at a great distance from where they were issued. Thus, an Oakland transfer was found in Los Angeles; in New York City, transfers from Boston and Baltimore were picked up; in Portsmouth, N. H., we once found a Brooklyn (N. Y.) transfer lying in the street; in Cleveland, transfers from Buffalo, Chicago, and St. Louis were found lying around near railroad stations, probably dropped by passengers who had just come from those cities. We have in our collection also a sample of a transfer from Hamilton, Ont., picked up on the street in Niagara Falls, N. Y. (in this case the transfer was imported by the original owner from Canada into the United States). In New York City we have also picked up cash fare receipts from Hull, England, and Glasgow, Scotland; but they were not added to our collection, being more like railroad checks than transfers.
117. Transfers in Bad Condition. Derelict transfers are generally much easier to obtain than transfers directly collected, especially in large cities; but the disadvantage for the collector is that derelict transfers are rarely in as good condition as they were when issued. Many of them are more or less dirty, and in most cases we find transfers mutilated, with large tears, or parts missing, etc. If such a transfer is found with too much missing, especially if some essential part is gone, it is hardly worth while keeping it; similarly if it is so hopelessly dirty that essential parts of it are quite illegible, or nearly so. But, if the parts present and legible make a fairly continuous whole, and there is nothing essential missing from what might have been issued or used for fare, then, even if the transfer is otherwise in bad condition, the collector could still use it for his collection until he gets one of the same form in better condition. It is worth while for a collector whose collection includes such transfers to make a list of the transfers in bad condition in his collection. When these are replaced by those in better condition, it is hardly worth keeping the old ones as duplicates; they should be discarded altogether. Of course, should such a transfer become obsolete through the form being no longer issued, or through its being replaced by a new issue, it will be impossible to replace it, and the collector may strike it off his list of bad-condition transfers, since that list is intended merely as a list of forms to be replaced by ones in better condition.
Another way in which a derelict transfer may get in a bad condition is by bleaching or staining, The color is an important item in the transfer form, and it may be lost, or bleach out, by exposure to sun and rain. A completely bleached transfer is white, but it frequently passes through some other color quite different from its original tint, though a collector accustomed to partly bleached transfers can sometimes recognize the original coloring in such case. According to the way such a transfer is exposed, the bleaching may be on one side, or at one end. It is more irregular if due to water. Staining of transfers by other contacts is also likely to happen, especially where the transfer has been wet.
118. Handling Derelicts. The collector picking up derelict transfers should do it as inconspicuously as possible, and should generally not let it be noticed that that is what he is doing. Although picking up a derelict for a souvenir to put in a collection is a perfectly legitimate action in itself, still it would hardly do to appear as one who picks up rubbish, or especially as one who is trying to pick up transfers to evade payment of carfare.
Wet transfers can be kept in a special pocket for a while, and will dry fairly rapidly. In my case, when unfolding a transfer, especially a wet one, care should be taken not to tear the transfer itself in the process. If a transfer is dirty, it is best not to keep it where it is liable to soil clean ones, especially if it is wet. Wet transfers are often found adhering closely to the pavement, and there special care is needed to avoid tearing, especially if there is already a slight tear. Where there are attached coupons, these are quite likely to come off if care is not observed. Sometimes the process of detaching such transfers can be done very effectively, and quite inconspicuously, too, with the point of an umbrella, which can also be used to pick up the transfer if handled properly.
119. Cleaning and Patching Derelicts. In the case of transfers in bad condition, the condition may sometimes be partly remedied. For instance, a transfer with a tear in it can be readily fixed by a thin strip of paper pasted over the back of the tear, care being taken as far as possible not to obliterate any important endorsed matter. Such a transfer should be listed as patched, and, although still in had condition, it is nevertheless not so bad as it was originally. This process of patching can also be used where two parts of a transfer are found which fit perfectly together. Sometimes, to complete a transfer form, an attached coupon can be thus patched onto a transfer in one's collection lacking that part, provided both parts belong to the same form. If they did not come from the same transfer, they are likely to bear different serial numbers; in which case that form may be listed in the bad-condition list as "misfit coupons."
In the case of dirty transfers, washing is the most obvious remedy. This may be effectively used for heavy , dirt, such as mud, etc., especially if the transfer is already wet. Simply dip the transfer into water and rub lightly, letting the surplus water drip off with much of the dirt still left. Care must be observed not to tear the transfer, and not to rub off the print, as is likely to happen where the transfer is printed on unsized paper. In the case of dry transfers, where there is a heavy coating of dirt in any spot, it may be scraped off with a razor blade, scissors edge, etc., care being taken not to scrape off either print or coloring. Where the dirt is very small in amount and in a light layer, an ordinary pencil eraser will remove it about as effectively as anything, the same care as before being taken. The eraser should be used only on a perfectly dry transfer. In any event, any transfer should be allowed to dry thoroughly before being incorporated into a collection.
A collector who has in his collection transfers which are torn or dirty should occasionally look them over to see if anything can be done to make them more presentable.
120. Importance of Derelict Transfers in Collection. Derelict transfers form an important source of obtaining specimens for the collector who is properly on the lookout for them. By picking up even derelicts in very bad condition and then being on the lookout for duplicates in better condition, and finally keeping the best conditioned one of each form, there is a good chance of getting fairly complete and presentable collections. As an example, in a recent trip from Cleveland, Ohio, to Los Angeles, Calif., via Seattle, during which we visited Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Seattle, Tacoma, Everett (Wash.), Portland (Ore.), and Sacramento, (Calif.), we added to our collection during the trip 104 new transfer forms, of which at least 90 were derelicts! And we may add that out of 115 systems now represented in our collection [Thursday,] (Jan. 22, 1925), 32 are represented entirely by derelict transfers, some, as has been told before, found at a great distance from where they were issued. The lookout for derelict transfers (one can hardly call it a search, for it cannot be conducted so systematically) is kept in the manner we have indicated in this chapter. At transfer points (or probable transfer points) , in places where discarded matter accumulates, frequently on the cars themselves, many times in store entrances (especially where there is a long passage before reaching the actual door), in miscellaneous places on the street, in waiting rooms, etc., a careful watch will disclose many transfer forms that materially add to a collection. On the street, these derelicts will be likely to blow off normally, but after a rain they will stick longer. Snow will very frequently keep them frozen in all winter, and many derelict transfers can be found under a deep layer of snow; these may be treated essentially as ordinary wet transfers, but great care should be used if they have to be taken out of ice, in which case it may be best to break off the whole piece of ice and let it melt. We may also note that free transfers are more likely, on the whole, to be found thus than those for which a fee is charged. In Philadelphia, for instance, many derelict free transfers are to be found, but there are very few derelict exchange tickets (3-cent transfers). The chances of finding derelicts also depends somewhat on how well the streets are cleaned.
Derelict transfers, besides being direct additions to a collection, may also furnish hints for further collection. For example, they may indicate "reversibility" hints (Section 14), or they may indicate some class of transfer which one would not otherwise look for; or they may help by indicating the nature of the transfer-issuing units on a system, or by indicating new issues, or by suggesting transfer-issuing systems that might otherwise have been overlooked. For example, a transfer of the Rochester, Lockport, and Buffalo Railway was picked up in Rochester, N.Y., and proved to represent altogether an inter-company transfer privilege, not only with the Rochester local street cars, but also with the Rochester and Syracuse Railway, a different company. Thus was introduced into the collection a system (the R. L. & R) which, consisting of only one line, would not have been thought of otherwise as a transfer-issuing system, at the same time indicating another such system (the R. & S.) which also would not have been considered as such but for the finding of this derelict.
121. Souvenir Transfers. Sometimes the collector, if it is known that he collects transfers, will receive contributions from friends who happen to have unused transfers on their hands. These souvenirs constitute a perfectly good source of collection, but we can hardly advise this in general. In many cases, it is true, there are State laws interfering with such gifts; and, even where this is not the case, this matter should not be abused. A fairly good rule to stick to is that embodied in the Massachusetts law, which forbids selling transfers, as well as giving them away for use as fare. The collector should likewise make it a strict rule not to use for fare any transfers acquired either as souvenirs or derelicts, and he should consider that his object is collecting and not the evasion of fare.
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