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Notes on the Collection of Transfers

W. J. Sidis




         143. Interest in Reading Transfers.  We have already pointed out in Chapter XXI that one of the most interesting features of being a transfer collector is the amount of local exploration and sight-seeing that the collector enjoys while riding his hobby. But this is not essentially a part of collection, and the traveling and sight-seeing can very well be accomplished as systematically without collecting transfers at all. But there are interesting features belonging to the collection itself, and one of these is the reading of the content of the transfers collected, whether essential or non-essential, relevant or irrelevant, in relation to knowledge of the localities covered by the collected transfers, one of the best ways of learning about such matters is through reading the contents of transfers, though not always.

        Of course, endorsed advertisements may have their own interest, but it is a remote one, except in so far as any addresses, telephone numbers, etc., mentioned in them may give information as to streets and telephone exchanges centrally located, giving an idea as to just what numbers constitute a central location in the town in question, Still, there is other irrelevant matter to be found on transfers, such as on the "Baltimore backs" (see Section 31), which may have more intrinsic interest.

        As to relevant matter, there is some interest in reading enough and seeing just how all conditions are indicated, to be able to classify the various devices used, or to be able to place the transfer in some standard type. If a transfer is picked up some distance from its original territory, there may be difficulty in locating where it was issued, even though the company name appears plainly; this sometimes requires some deduction. Thus, we once picked up in front of the Pennsylvania Station in New York a transfer bearing the company name "United Railways and Electric Company. Having never encountered such a system before, and the name giving no clue as to the location of the system, it was a puzzle to identify the transfer. The issuing route was given on the transfer as "North Avenue," and the receiving routes were indicated by a list of punch spaces, each with a street name. This showed that tracks crossed the North Avenue line on at least 28 streets, the inference being that the city was large enough for 29 trolley lines. By the range of "car indexes" generally found in large cities, it was probably a city of at least a half million population; this narrowed down the choice considerably. Furthermore, since the punched time limit on the transfer was only about eighteen hours before it was found in New York, the city in question could not be more than eighteen hours by rail from New York. It was certain that there was no such system in New York itself, or in Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, or Cleveland, from information we already had in regard to the systems in operation there. Also the presence of a "Pennsylvania Avenue" and a "Maryland Avenue" in the city, as indicated on the transfer, indicated a city near those two states, or in one of them. Washington was eliminated by the absence of the lettered street names so common in that city. This practically narrowed the choice down to Baltimore, and the atlas and city directory revealed that Baltimore had a "United Railways and Electric Company" operating street cars in it. Thus an envelope was made out for this derelict transfer and labelled "United Railways and Electric Company, Baltimore, Md."

        The collector reading his transfers may, besides noting the mere form and arrangements, also pay special attention to the transfer privileges as stated on the transfer, noting every detail, coming to some conclusion as to the arrangement of streets in the city of issue, deciding what variations if any there are on the universal transfer privilege, and any reason ascertainable for exceptions or additional privileges noted.

        Of course, there is also some interest in noting vestigial features on transfer forms, and, in some cases, to deduce what the former condition was where those vestigial features fitted. There are also other interesting features about reading the inscriptions on all transfer forms collected. Anyone who collects transfers should by all means read everything on the transfer, advertisements, printer's name, and all. 

        Mentioning the printer's name calls to mind the fact that there are a very few printers in the United States printing transfers, and some of them specialize in particular transfer types (such as the Stedman or the Franklin transfers, the former printed in Rochester, N. Y., and the latter in Springfield, Mass.); while larger printing establishments in this field offer a wider variety of types and devices. The largest transfer printer, the Globe Ticket Company, now has two establishments, one at Philadelphia, and one at Los Angeles.

        144. Transfers as Auxiliary Street GuidesOne of the most interesting things about reading the contents of transfers is that they help considerably to a knowledge of the. streets and car routing of the city of issue. It is true that frequently no hint, or very little, is found in this; but, on the contrary, it often happens that considerable information is to be obtained from the wording of transfers, especially if a complete collection from a certain system or city is consulted.

        Let us take for an example a few forms from the Philadelphia Rapid Transit system. We have, let us say, two transfer forms from "Route 9"―not knowing just what that means―the free southbound transfer, and the exchange (three-cent) ticket. On each is endorsed the details of the receiving conditions. Let us take the exchange ticket first:

To Route 

Direction  Intersecting At


{W. Pine & 4 or 5
{E. Spruce & 4 or 5
13, 18, 36, 42 W. Walnut & 4 or 5
13, 18
36, 42, 51
16, 17, 21
31, 32, 41
Subway W. only Market & 5
33, 44, 48 E. only Arch & 4 or 5
50, 65 N. 5 & Arch
4, 19 N. 7 & Arch
47, 61 S.  8 & Arch
47 N. 9 & Arch
23 S. 10 & Arch
23, 55 N. 11 & Arch
20, 49, 53 S. 12 & Arch
3, 20, 49, 53 N. 13 & Arch
2 S. 15 & Arch
2, 24 N. 16 & Arch
21 Sundays only S. 17 & Arch
32 Weekdays only S. 17 & Market
17 W. only 19 & Market
10, 11, 34} W. only {Market & 19 or
37, 38} W. only {Market & 24
31, 41 S. Market & 22
7 22 & Arch

        The inference here is that the issuing route―No. 9―runs along Arch Street and then along 4th or 5th Streets, the Market Street privileges mentioned at the bottom of the list being probably walk-over privileges from Arch Street. Also that Arch Street runs east and west, and the numbered streets run north and south; other east and west streets mentioned are Pine, Spruce, Walnut, Chestnut, Market, presumably in the order of approach to Arch Street. All this can, of course, be verified by a map of Philadelphia, but the contents of the transfers tell us that anyway. Further, since other transfer forms indicate that the listed lines 10, 11, 34, 37, 38, are all subway car lines, we draw the inference that there are subway stations on Market Street at 5th, 19th, and 24th Streets. Since the 5th Street station is not referred to by car routes, the surface cars probably do not run in the subway as far as the 5th Street station. As to our conclusion that the route of issue runs along 4th or 5th Street, a reference to some return exchange form―say, that of route 13―indicates that Route 9 runs northward on 5th, and southward on 4th Street. Other one-way streets are indicated on this transfer form: Pine and Walnut west, Spruce and Chestnut east; 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, and 16th north; and 8th, 10th, 12th, and 15th south. One could make inferences as to at least part of other car routes, of which many are mentioned here by number, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 41, 42, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 55, 61, 65. For example, route 2 (and apparently also route 24) runs south on 15th and north on 16th Street, but it would seem as though route 2 runs through, and 24 only on the north side. A curious part is the privilege of transferring south on 17th Street, which is to 21 on Sundays and to 32 on weekdays. Evidently such is the routing on the south part of 17th Street; on weekdays route 32 runs on 17th south from Market, necessitating a walk-over (Arch must therefore be slightly north of Market), and, from the transfer, it runs on 1 Market Street east from 4th and 5th Streets. Reconstructing, we must suppose that street numbers increase going west, and route 32 runs on weekdays along Market Street from some point east of 4th Street out to 17th, then south on 17th. Route 21 apparently goes through on 17th southbound on Sundays, and on weekdays turns east on Market Street.

        The southbound free transfer of the same route adds similar information to this, except that it concerns less centrally located regions in the city. In this way, from these two forms alone, considerable information has been gathered as to street arrangements and car routings in Philadelphia. Other forms will, of course, add further information, and a collector who gathers―and reads―over a hundred such forms will necessarily acquire a fair knowledge of Philadelphia, even without the assistance of map or guide. We will mention later how maps and guide books may assist further in this process.

        It is not always that such detailed information can be gathered from reading transfers, since transfer privileges are not always described In such detail as on Philadelphia transfers, and, when they are, it may be in too complicated a manner; but this is a good illustration of how a little deduction can practically reconstruct a city from a few transfer forms.

        In the case of cities not strange to the collector, but about which he already knows something, the matter contained in transfer inscriptions will serve as useful supplementary information, so that a collection of transfers may frequently serve as an auxiliary guide to the city or region covered. We have found many times that, when it was necessary to learn certain things in regard to getting about a city, and guide books or maps were not specific enough a reference to our transfer collection helped settle the difficulty.

        In this, as well as in any other conclusions drawn from a collection of transfers, the collector must be warned against the possibility of vestigial forms. However, any alterations that have to be made will usually be in routing of cars; the streets can generally be relied on to stay in the same place, though their names may occasionally be changed. Such change in names of streets, however, sometimes is a source of confusion.

        145. Company ConnectionsThe company name may seem an unimportant item on the transfer, or at least important only for purposes of classification. Still, notice should be taken of it, and occasionally that, together with other evidence obtained from the contents and appearance of the transfers, may yield interesting suggestions in regard to interconnection of various companies. Of course, mere resemblance of transfer forms, where they are of some standard type, proves nothing of itself; but it may mean something where that resemblance is carried into details not connected with that type at all. Other things that are good indications are inter-company transfer privileges, though this need not necessarily prove anything.

        146. Noticeable Features in Reading TransfersWhen a collector gets a transfer―or a group of transfers―one of the first things he should do is read through the entire contents and observe any special features. Of course, we cannot give a complete list of what to look for, but we can list some that may be noticeable.

    (A) General arrangement of the transfer, in individual transfers, in system collections, and in special types. Where any features of general arrangement are noted in a group of transfers, any variation from those features in individual forms should also be noted. Under this heading we may put:

        a. Presence and relative position of attached coupons, if any. (Note also just what sort of coupons these are, whether route or time, etc.) Also mode of attachment of these coupons to each other and to the main body of the transfer, and attachment of transfer to pad.

        b. Shape and size of transfer, including dimensions of each coupon separately.

        c. Whether transfer is horizontal or vertical. When it is decided which side up the transfer goes, part of the print may run in some other direction; if so, it is well to note this. Also endorsed matter may be printed in a different direction from the front of the transfer. Thus, Philadelphia transfers would be considered as horizontal, but the backs are vertical, the top of the back being the left end of the front.

        d. Coloring. Besides the color of the transfer, there is the color of printing and surcharges to be noted, also if color is in a light block, etc., all this forms an essential part of the color description, though usually it is to be understood that printing is in black, and normally surcharges are in red. Anything that can be discovered concerning the significance of the color should be noted; in dealing with a whole system or type within a system, this notation should include any available information in regard to the color schedule. Note also whether the schedule is fixed or variable, whether there is uniform coloring or individual form coloring, or what the basis of the color schedule may be.

        e. General appearance of paper and print. This needs no detailed description, especially since several kinds of print are usually found on one transfer. But it should be observed, since it may be recognized again elsewhere.

        f. General nature of endorsed matter, if any.

    (B) Mode of denoting conditions of time. These should be noted in some detail. The conditions may be grouped somewhat as follows:

        a. Dating. This includes date number, weekday, month and year, only part of which will probably be indicated, and may be done separately or in combination. Which items are indicated, and the details of how each is indicated, should be noted by the collector. Thus, on a Moran transfer, it will be noted that the date number is punched on the margin, the punches being arranged round the main body of the transfer as indicated ill the diagram in Section 100, while the month is surcharged in red in a special space a bit to the right of the center, the first three letters of the month being used, and the bottom of the surcharge being towards the right of the transfer. In all cases, whether under this or some other heading, where listing or punch spaces of any other kind of arrangements are referred to, such detail is desirable. If dating is by code, some idea of the nature of the code and how the code appears on the transfer should be given. If punch spaces, there should be some idea of the arrangement of those spaces, especially if jumbled.

        b. Half-day. Exact description should be made of just how that matter is indicated, with a description of any devices used for the purpose.

        c. Timing. Here again an exact description is required. If there is any special disposition of owl timing, it should be noted. The interval used is another characteristic matter. Under this heading we include the methods of denoting the hour and the minute (or rather, the fraction of an hour). Also note arrangement of punch spaces, if any, and boxing.

    (C) Mode of denoting conditions of place. Under this heading include a detailed description of devices used and inscription found pertaining to the following items:

        a. Conditions of issuance. These may be divided into:

        (1) Initial fare limit.
         (2) Issuing route.
         (3) Issuing direction. 
         (4) Transfer-issuing unit, 
         (5) Section of issuing unit.

In describing items (4) and (5), the general nature of the issuing unit and its sections should be noticed.

        b. Conditions of acceptance which may be divided into:

        (1) Transfer point.
         (2) Receiving route.
         (3) Receiving direction.
         (4) Final fare limit.
         (5) Transfer-receiving unit (in the case of forms where such is of importance).

        c. Company numbering and lettering, or other nomenclature of routes and divisions.

    (D) Fare conditions including:

        a. Fare for which the transfer is issued. This includes cash amount, if indicated; also whether or not transfer can be used as a repeat, that is, whether it is issuable or issued on another transfer.

        b. Repeat privileges, if any. This includes repeat coupons and validation spaces. In describing this item or the item above, details should be noted as to just how everything is indicated on the transfer.

    (E) Any information concerning the variety of transfer privilege represented, especially when considering a group of transfer forms. That is, whether the privilege is universal, special, or restricted; and any information available concerning restrictions or regulations. Also the existence and extent of walk-over and continuation privileges represented.

     (F) Class of transfer, how it is indicated and what is its significance.

     (G) General transfer regulations noted on the transfer.

    (H) The significance of different items, printings, markings and designs on the transfer.

     (I) Miscellaneous matter the significance of which may not be apparent.

     (J) Irrelevant or partly irrelevant matter.

    (K) Mode of indication of serial number; also indication, if any, of run number or conductor's number.

    (L) Company and printer's names. In the case of company names, any inferred company connections are to be noted.

    (M) Any standard types or devices that may be recognizable on the transfer.

    (N) Vestigial features, if any.

    (O) Any inferences or special remarks to be made.

        The above items constitute an extremely detailed classification of possible descriptions of a transfer form; but we do not suggest that it be followed out in full, or that there may not be interesting items on a transfer which are not listed above. The above list merely contains suggestions to the collector of what may be looked for in reading and describing his transfers.

        Let us take a sample transfer of the Los Angeles Railway, issued from the outbound cars of line "C." We can fairly describe the transfer as a green one, the coloring indicating the issuing direction out; inbound transfers are indicated by a yellow color. Surcharges are red with an exception to be noted later. The transfer is 53 mm in width, and may be considered horizontal, though endorsed matter is vertically arranged, as also the timing spaces. Main body 11 cm in length; on the left a P. M. coupon in imitation of the Pope type, taking up 16 mm of the length; on the right a repeat coupon, length 5 cm. On the P. M. coupon the inscription is in light print on a black block: "P. M. Coupon. Void if Detached." Bottom of this inscription towards right end of transfer. Matter on both front and back of main body and of route coupon is boxed in, the boxes on the front side being ruled horizontally into smaller portions. Top line divided into two boxes on both coupons, in each case the serial number on the right-hand box, the left-hand box containing a number whose significance is not apparent, but is possibly the run number; the latter is surcharged in blue, the former in red. On route coupon the remainder of the large box is filled with the regulation "This coupon will be accepted at a direct transfer point or at such walk-over points as are shown on back if presented before time punched. Conductors will refuse to accept coupon if detached and must examine time shown on body of transfer. Not Good if Detached." On the main body, the line below the number boxes contains the company name: "Los Angeles Railway." The part below that contains the further regulation: "Transfer good for continuous trip only if presented at first transfer point before time punched and with coupon attached. Subject to conditions shown on coupon and reverse. Not Transferable." The heading of this is "ANGELENO AND CROWN HILL LINE," the issuing route, which is also indicated by a red surcharge "c" (the company letter) over the main body, and a somewhat smaller one on the route coupon; also "C Out" endorsed over the rouletting between main body and route coupon. Issuing direction is further indicated by a box in the bottom horizontal space at the right end of the main body reading: "OUT TRIP from Fountain & Edgemont or Temple & Hoover." It is also indicated by the color of the transfer. Below the box just mentioned are a couple of emergency or continuation punch spaces, one reading "Turn Back-Diverted" and the other "Stop." The remaining part of the bottom division is taken up with timing spaces, arranged vertically, facing the opposite way from the P. M. coupon; three columns, first containing numbers from 1 to 12, the other two containing respectively "20" and "40" in each row; each number has its own box; below these (as they are printed) is a box containing a circular punch space for owl time limits with the explanation: "Good at any transfer point up to 8 A. M. of following day." The "C" surcharges and a date code surcharge below each consisting of a geometrical design and face the same way as the timing spaces. Endorsed matter contains receiving conditions; the top is at the time coupon end. Above the box of the main body is the printer's name; the top of the box itself contains explanations of the emergency punches. The remaining part of that box contains at the top end exceptions to the use of the transfer, and at the bottom end the notation: "This transfer is good on cars of issuing line at Temple & Belmont." The exceptions read: "This transfer or its coupon is NOT good at the following points: South on Hill, Broadway, Spring or Main at any point north of 5th St." The inscription on the back of the coupon reads: "This coupon good only at points where lines join, separate or cross; or to walk to the following points and under the following conditions," under which are listed the walk-over conditions. This gives a fairly complete description of the transfer, and the recognizable devices are the date code, the P. M. coupon, and the Smithoid repeat coupon.

        147. Tracing Form ResemblancesIt is frequently interesting to examine the features of transfers by taking up a single transfer form or group of forms (as those issued by a certain system) and trace the meaning of the various devices used and similar devices used elsewhere, thus acquiring indication of the steps in the evolution of that particular form. Sometimes this may be through forms in use elsewhere, sometimes previous issues may contain hints; in any case, tracing all the various devices used and resemblances of those devices to others used elsewhere, makes a very interesting sort of transfer history, and takes it up in a way that starts from something familiar and covers a large portion of the field without getting far away from the familiar matter. Thus, if we take the transfer form which we have just described in detail, we may note the resemblance of the color schedule to that in use in Brooklyn, N. Y., three thousand miles from where the transfer in question was issued; then lead into the question of color schedules based on issuing direction, and their various varieties. We may take up the date code surcharge, and note that it is an abbreviation of the complete date surcharge found in a previous issue; also note the various forms of date codes, and possible connection with the type of transfer used in Seattle, Portland (Ore.), and Denver; also, going back of the date surcharge, note the many cases of partial date surcharges (month, weekday, or date number). The attached coupons can be compared to the Pope and Smith coupons, and possibly traced back in both cases to the Ham patent type. The endorsed matter may be compared to the many cases of endorsed conditions and exceptions in use on many systems, such as the Brooklyn two-cent transfers or the transfer forms in Philadelphia. In general, one can readily see how a single transfer form supplies material for illustrating the entire theme of transfer structure and evolution.


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