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Notes on the Collection of Transfers

W. J. Sidis





        28. General Appearance of TicketsThe usual American transfer ticket consists of an oblong piece of more or less flexible paper, in many cases with coupons of the same width attached at one or both ends, usually in the manner known to stamp collectors as rouletting (hyphen-shaped perforation),* and printed on one or both sides. Transfers are ordinarily issued to conductors and transfer agents on pads, from which they are easily detached and issued to the passenger. If there are any attached coupons that are, under some circumstances, not supposed to be part of what the passenger is to receive, it is most convenient to have those coupons at the end of the transfer which is attached to the pad, so that, if the coupons in question are not to be issued, they can simply be left on the pad. It is therefore inconvenient to have such coupons at both ends of the ticket. In some cases, to facilitate detachment of the transfer from the pad and of the attached coupons from the main body of the transfer, there is a small indentation at each end of the rouletted lines.

        In measuring the size of transfer tickets we may use either the English or the metric system; we will usually use the latter, sometimes both. Sizes of transfers vary considerably with the company, and even with the form issued; but, although the length of a transfer ticket (such should be properly measured from the line of junction with the pad to the other end) is extremely variable, there is much less variation in the width. Although the width is not standardized, most transfer tickets issued in the United States are about 52 millimeters wide (approximately two inches). The average length is between 13 and 14 centimeters (about five inches). Indentations are usually to the amount of about two or three millimeters. There are some cases of very small transfers (California Street Cable System in San Francisco; the rapid transit system in Boston before 1914) whose width is much less, in fact, about 2 centimeters, and whose length is the standard transfer width of 52 millimeters. In some cases, such as the northbound and crosstown forms issued by the Fifth Avenue Coach Company of New York, the transfer, together with all attached coupons (in this case one coupon on the left of the main body of the transfer, and two on the right), reaches a length of over 20 centimeters. In the case of the Fifth Avenue transfers, the main body of the transfer is 7.3 centimeters in length, the coupon on the left 3.3, and the two coupons on the right 5 centimeters each, giving a total length of 20.6 centimeters or 8.1 inches.

        Many transfers are printed on one side only; usually in the others there is one side which is important, and, where the transfers are issued from a pad, that side is the one visible on the pad. This is the front, or obverse side of the transfer; the other is the back, or reverse side. In the case of the small transfer forms issued by the California Street Cable Railroad in San Francisco, both sides are sufficiently alike to make it difficult to call either side the front in preference to the other. The lines of printing may run along the length or along the width of the transfer ticket; and, since frequently a great deal has to be put into a small space, part of the printing will run one way, and part the other. If we take, however, the most important and most conspicuous parts of the printing on the front, then we may distinguish the transfer as horizontal (when that part of the printing is along the length) or vertical (when that part of the printing is along the width). Similarly, in relation to such printing on the front of the transfer we can distinguish the top and bottom, and the left and right side.

        Transfers are issued in various colors, and on kinds of paper usually depending on the particular system. Each system has its definite color scheme for transfers, which we will take up later. In the matter of color, both that of the paper and of the printing has to be taken into account; the latter is usually black, but not always.

        29. Transfer Inscriptions We may, as a most obvious classification, divide the inscriptions on a transfer ticket into printing, stamping, and surcharges. The two latter should be classed together as matter placed on the ticket after and over the printing of the regular form, and presumably done in the company's offices rather than at the printing establishment. The term "surcharge" is taken from the language of stamp collectors, among whom it means something printed over a regular stamp form to change the use of the stamp (as, for instance, to alter the name of the nation, or the value represented by the stamp). For the transfer collector, it may mean such after-printed wording or designs as were apparently not part of the originally printed form; usually of some distinctive color, especially red, although occasionally surcharges of other colors are found. One distinctive feature of a transfer surcharge is that, being put on afterwards, an occasional slip is made, so that a surcharge will not always exactly occupy the space obviously intended for it, if it was to fit into such a space. Or, in the case of some surcharges, it is placed over regular printing, which is usually visible through the. surcharge. In some cases a rubber stamp is substituted for a surchargemerely a hand surcharge, but nevertheless to be distinguished from the regular sort.

        Designs on a transfer ticket may occasionally be due to the way the color is laid on, as in the case of the New Jersey forms issued by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad. But usually the coloring is part of the paper, and is therefore uniform, except for possible surcharges, or regularly printed designs. Here under the term designs we include every figure, not letters or numbers, except the outlines of the spaces reserved for different parts of the wording (even though those spaces may actually be empty). Among the most important of such designs are the bars that are surcharged on many transfers; lines of greater or less width crossing the entire ticket or some part of it (especially the main body or an attached coupon, where a coupon is attached) in some particular direction. So we may speak of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal bars, according to the direction in which the bar crosses the face of the transfer. Diagonal bars may again be subdivided into primary (crossing from upper left to lower right) and secondary (crossing from upper right to lower left). In some cases there are to be found double bars, consisting of two parallel lines surcharged across the face of the transfer. Other kinds of designs, such as the date-codes, the P. M. quadrat, etc., will be taken up in the consideration of the types of forms in which they occur. Occasionally, though, some peculiar design will occur, such as the star surcharged on the right-hand coupons of almost all forms issued by the New York Railways Company, though not on the forms issued by affiliated companies. The following illustrations will show the various kinds of bars as they occur on horizontal transfers.


        The wording of the transfers may be on both sides, or it may be on the front alone. There may be wholly irrelevant matter, such as advertisements, announcements, notices, etc. But, aside from this, there will usually be indicated in some form or other the name of the company, a number for the ticket (each transfer ticket usually carries some sort of serial number), and the conditions of issue and use; also sometimes a little miscellaneous information such as the number of the issuing conductor or the "run" number. In addition, there is frequently a general set of transfer regulations, including the non-transferability limitation and a notice of the penalty for disposing of the ticket. Many of these things are printed on, others are surcharged or rubber-stamped, while in many cases the desired information is left to be punched in one of a series of spaces provided for the purpose. This means that where a certain condition may offer various alternatives, the conductor punches a hole through the space in which the desired alternative is printed.

        There is usually very little difficulty in deciphering the name of the company, except where it is too much abbreviated, as is the case in Brooklyn, N. Y. Thus, transfers issued by the Brooklyn City Railroad have "B. C. R." on the left side, completed on the right side by "R. Co." Another difficulty is presented when there is a main and a subsidiary company; here usually the name of the main company appears on the transfer, especially if the main company operates the cars directly; but in some systems in New York City and vicinity the opposite is the case, and the name of the subsidiary company appears.

        The company name, and the general transfer regulations, as well as inscriptions for the punch spacing, are usually printed; transfer regulations are ordinarily signed by some company officer either by printed name or by a facsimile signature. But there are exceptions to this. On the contrary, serial numbers of the transfer, and usually (where they are indicated at all) the conductor's number and the run number, are surcharged.

        30. Transfer ConditionsMost of the conditions of issue and use indicated on a transfer ticket may be simply classified into conditions of time and place. There are also some miscellaneous conditions of circumstances of issue and privileges attaching to the use of the transfer. But the conditions of time and place are by far the most important, and some device or other must be provided to indicate all the essential ones that require specification. We may cite the following as the usual conditions, though not all are necessary. Among the conditions of place: (1) issuing line; (2) direction of issuing car; (3) initial fare limit; (4) transfer point; (5) receiving line; (6) direction of receiving car; (7) final fare limit. Among the conditions of time: (1) year; (2) month; (3) day of month (date number); (4) week day; (5) A. M. or P. M.; (6) hour; (7) fraction of hour (which we may call the minute, though usually indicating half, third, quarter, or sixth of an hour). Other miscellaneous conditions are: (1) kind or amount of fare represented by the transfer; (2) class of transfer; (3) repeat privileges, if any; (4) conductor's number; (5) run number; (6) form number; (7) serial number. Not all of these conditions are necessary, and sometimes others arise; but, on every transfer issued, it is worth noting just what provisions are made for indicating each, as well as the company name and sometimes the section of the system issuing the ticket. There is enough variety in this to make it interesting to the collector.

        31. Endorsed MatterUnder this heading we include matter on the back or reverse side of a transfer. In many cases the back of a transfer is completely blank, so that there is no endorsed matter. Since whatever matter is endorsed is intended to be read by the recipients of transfers (although it usually is not), there will not usually be matter endorsed on attached coupons without which the transfer may be still issued, except sometimes the conditions expressed by the attachment of that coupon―the same sort of matter that would be found on the front side of the coupon. As an exception to this, we may note the attached hour-coupons on transfers issued by the Boston Elevated system, which bear on the back the advertisement: "PATRONISE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GROCER" (or DRUGGIST, in some cases), on the backs of coupons which mayor may not be issued with the transfer, but some of which are usually attached.

        Outside of conditions of use and exceptions to them, which will be taken up more in detail later, there are other matters, relevant or irrelevant, which may be endorsed on the back of a transfer, As relevant matter, we may instance general transfer regulations (Smith patent forms; Kansas City Railways; Wilmington and Philadelphia Transit system), or more special matters of the sort, such as notices of non-transferability (usually placed somewhere on the transfer) or notices of the penalty of transference of the transfer (most Public Service Railway forms in New Jersey; Scranton Railway; Chicago Surface Lines). These things are very often placed on the back of a transfer together with more specific conditions of use.

        Notices, mottoes, warnings, and advertisements are frequently used to fill up the space on the reverse side of a transfer ticket, Private advertisements are common enough for backs of transfers, probably as a means of revenue for the company. Among the transfers in our own collection, such backs are found on transfers from the following systems:

    Portsmouth (N. H.) Electric Railway.
New York and Stamford Railway Company (some forms only).
    New York and Long Island Traction Company.
    Wilmington and Philadelphia Traction Company (a few forms only).
    Frankford, Tacony, and Holmesburg Street Railway.
    Easton Transit Company (1922 forms).
    Washington Railway and Electric Company (Ham Patent forms only).
    Washington Rapid Transit Company.
    Detroit (Mich.) Motorbus Company.
    City of Ashtabula (Ohio).
    Denver Tramway Company.
    B. and H. Transportation Company.
    Long Beach Transportation Company.
    San Pedro Motorbus Company (part of the advertisement also on front).
    Santa Barbara and Suburban Railway.

         Besides private advertisements, other notices are quite commonly written on the backs of transfers. We may instance the back of Middlesex and Boston transfers, which read, "Wait until the car stops! Take care―not chances! Teach the children to stop! look! listen!" Similar safety notices are found on the backs of transfers of the Richmond Light and Railroad Company in Staten Island, N.Y.: "To the Public: Avoid Accidents. Wait until the car stops. Face forward when boarding or alighting from the car. Look out for approaching vehicles. Help us make your journey safe."

        Sometimes the company has special notices to put in such a place; for instance, the Connecticut Company has two standard backs, one intended to impress people with the importance of the company and its interests, and the other to reconcile the riders after an increase in fare. Transfers issued by the Market Street Railway Company (San Francisco) have general conditions on the back, and also the legend: "Our aim-Care, Comfort, Courtesy."

        The most miscellaneous variety of transfer backs we have seen is found on the transfers issued by the United Railways and Electric Company of Baltimore, Md. All sorts of notices, ranging from safety slogans to private advertisements, are placed on the backs of Baltimore transfers, and each form of back has its special number, which appears in the corner. The transfer collector might even find it worth his while, as an additional curiosity, to collect the various kinds of backs on Baltimore transfers. For example, the back of number 39 shows illustrations of how to get off a car and how not to do it; the back of number 103 advertises one of the beaches near Baltimore; the back of number 62 asks passengers to buy tokens. Some of these Baltimore backs urge trolley riding for children; thus, back 18 says: "Trolleying is of inestimable value as an educational factor for children. Let them learn their city and its suburbs by riding on the cars." Back number 86 calls attention to play trolleys maintained by the company: "JOLLY TROLLEYS FOR THE KIDDIES. Cars on which boys and girls may play motorman, conductor and passengers. They have trolleys, registers, ding-dings and everything." There are also notices asking people to, shop early, and many forms of safety notices, such as "Do not hold an umbrella in front of your face while crossing the street. It is better to get wet than to get hurt." (Back number 1.) Or: "The Chance Taker Is the Accident Maker. Don't Take Chances." (Back number 43.) Or: "Eyes Front when leaving the car. Grasp the front handle with left hand." (Back number 91.)

        Designs on transfer backs are not common, but still they are to be found. Thus, the route coupons attached on the right of the transfers of the Fifth Avenue Coach Company (New York) bear black primary diagonal bars. These bars have no apparent meaning, but are the exact reverse of the secondary diagonal bars on the front of the same coupons, whose color indicates the direction of the issuing line.



*The so-called "Franklin Rapid Transfer" form uses round perforation for attachment to the pad.


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