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Notes on the Collection of Transfers

W. J. Sidis




        32. What Constitutes Separate FormsWhat the transfer collector tries to collect is as many different forms of transfers as possible, these forms to indicate all the sorts, colors, and conditions of transfers to be' found in the various systems covered by the collection. It becomes, accordingly, important to distinguish when two transfers are of the same form (in which case they are duplicates), and when they are of different forms. Very often the issuing company puts on the transfer a form number, which the collector should by all means note, but which is not absolutely conclusive as to differentiation of forms, since it frequently happens that what the collector should consider as differences in form may have the same company form number. Thus, the Connecticut Company gives the same form number to all transfers issued in the same city; all Hartford transfers have the form number C419, while, from the collector's point of view, there are over a hundred different transfer forms issued in that city, which would all be required in a complete collection. Likewise, in Springfield, Mass., there are over twenty transfer forms issued; but all have the same company form number, 266-5. Company form numbers, for instance, never take account of differences of color or of surcharges, which may be important distinctions to the collector.

        Differences of form in transfers are constituted by differences of essential conditions of issue and use, differences of wording, of the arrangement of parts of the transfer, and differences in the manner of indication of various conditions. It is hardly advisable to go the length of stamp collectors, with whom every slight typographical error constitutes a new variety. Simple time differences would not constitute differences of form, unless they involved other distinctions, as of arrangement or color. Similarly with differences in transfer serial number, conductor's number, or run number; the same conditions can be read from two transfers differing in this way. As an example, where the date or the date number, or even a date code, is surcharged on a transfer, it is to be considered the same form no matter what date is surcharged. The difficulty is greater with A. M. and P. M. transfers. If the only difference between these transfers is in certain surcharges equivalent to the mere statements "A. M." and "P. M.," these transfers are to be considered duplicates; but if there is a difference of color or arrangement of parts, they are distinct forms. The question can arise, for instance, in the case of the Kansas City Railways, which issue A. M. transfers with green print, and P. M. transfers with black print; in this case there is a real difference of color in the transfer, and they are to be considered separate forms. But, in the case of the New York Railways, the difference is the surcharge of "1" for A. M. and "2" for P. M., and the surcharge of hourly punch spaces with a special P. M. quadrat added on the P. M. transfer; here on the whole it is probably better to consider the forms as identical.

        Another question is the difference of irrelevant backs; this usually would make no difference to the transfer form itself. In the case of the United Railways and Electric Company of Baltimore, Md., there are at least 110 types of "irrelevant backs" which may be placed on any form of regular transfer whatever. There being approximately 65 forms of these, it means that, if the backs were counted as constituting separate transfer forms, the total number of forms in Baltimore would amount to the product of these two numbers, namely, 7150. Still, the adoption or elimination of irrelevant endorsed matter might be considered as a change of form.

        Change in the company name as it appears on the transfer, or in the names or listing of issuing or receiving routes, or in any essential condition as stated on the transfer, is certainly a change of form. So is the adoption of some new device to indicate a condition of use of the transfer.

        Slight differences of color may not be real differences of form when they were merely due to variations of intensity in the coloring of paper, or to some sort of stain or bleaching received later and having nothing to do with the form as issued.

        33. Issues of TransfersWhen, after certain forms of transfers have been in use on a system, others are substituted and regularly used, there is said to be a new issue of transfers on that system. This new issue may affect the entire set of forms in the system, or only some of them; in the latter case the remaining ones will still belong to the old issue. The change may be a change in arrangement, or in conditions, or a mere change in color schedule. In the latter case, it is difficult to tell whether we are to consider it as a new issue or merely an additional set of forms, depending on whether the change is chronic or fairly permanent. Thus, in the case of the Connecticut Company, there are five colors used for the transfers (pink, purple, green, white, brown), and each month a different one of these colors is used on practically all forms issued. Such a change is chronic enough not to constitute a new issue, but is to be considered simply as a means of checking up on the month of issue. The same kind of transfer in the five different colors will, it is true, yield the collector five distinct forms; but it is hardly a case of different issues. On the other hand, the Boston Elevated Railway system changes its entire color schedule of transfers occasionally, but not in any sort of regular rotation; and those changes are accompanied by a slight change in arrangement, so that we really have new issues. In Brooklyn, new issues consist simply in adding and omitting words from the conditions of some transfers, when the routing of cars is changed in some way.

        Sometimes it may happen that a change in type of print or in the quality of paper used will be so marked as to make it worth while to consider that a new issue but usually this would only happen if there has been some other more essential alteration in the forms.

         As a code notation for issues, we suggest the use of Roman numerals enclosed in braces, issue [I] on any system being the current one when that system was first represented in the particular collection; issue [II] being the next issue, and so on. If transfers of previous issues are obtained, it may be found convenient to number these issues backwards, using Arabic numerals; so that, before issue [I] comes issue [1]; before that, issue [2]; and so on. Should intermediate issues be found, decimals may be inserted. It may also be found convenient to distinguish major issues, which effect the arrangement of parts of the transfer, the mode of notation of conditions, etc., from minor issues, in which no change of such importance has taken place. In such a case two numbers would be required to express a definite issue, one for the major and one for the minor.

        34. Vestigial FormsWhen, on any system, a change in routing or in the granting of transfers renders the current forms obsolete as to their printed conditions, punch-spaces, etc., there should properly be a new issue with the conditions brought up to date. This, however, is not always done, and the result is the issuance of forms with inscriptions which do not correctly represent the actual conditions of use, but those which obtained in the past. In some cases such forms may be diverted to uses entirely different from what they were originally intended. Such forms, with inscriptions which are wholly or partly unsuited, whether by omission or inclusion of conditions, to the present situation of transfer privileges, but which are vestiges of former transfer privileges, are called vestigial forms.

        Vestigial forms are a rather common thing to see in the process of collecting transfers, and very few systems that make any notable changes in their routing or transfer privileges would fail to have some vestigial forms or other. A common instance is when a car route is discontinued and yet the transfer continues to mention it; as an instance we may mention the "agent's ticket" (feeder continuation privilege) issued by the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system to westbound passengers alighting at "Station No. 45" (Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, Brooklyn, N. Y.), and reading: "VALID FOR ONE RIDE on any South Ferry, Fulton Ferry or Manhattan-bound car from Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues except the Park Slope line and the Cars of the Brooklyn City Railroad Co." The vestigial part about this form is, that the Park Slope line mentioned has been discontinued for some years. But ordinarily the Brooklyn-Manhattan system is prompt in making new issues of as many forms as may be affected by a change of routing cars. Other systems are not so prompt. For instance, the New York and Queens County Railway, operating in part of Queens borough of New York City, made a complete change in routing and transfer points on May 15, 1923. But for about two weeks they continued issuing the old transfer forms, mentioning by name the old lines and the old transfer points, although these had no connection whatever with the new state of affairs.

         Another remarkable instance of vestigial transfer forms is that of the Public Service Railway of New Jersey, which suspended transfer privileges altogether in many cities on October 1, 1923, and in many more cities on July 27, 1924. In the remaining regions the old transfer forms are still used, unaltered, even including on their face transfer privileges which are no longer granted. Thus, transfers are issued on the "Hudson River" line (Paterson to Edgewater) which are good in Fort Lee, Leonia, and Hackensack, but whose inscriptions also tell of transfer privileges in Paterson which have been long ago suspended.

        Vestigial transfer forms have the same interest as other vestigial remnants―objects, manners, actions, that are entirely disconnected from their present surroundings, and are simply survivals of a bygone past. However, a vestigial transfer form does not become so because it is a new and separate form, but precisely because it is absolutely identical with an old form; so that the transfer collector cannot collect separate vestigial forms, but may readily make note of how certain forms that he has collected have become vestigial in some way or other.

        There are, of course, other ways than as above indicated by which a form may become vestigial; as, for instance, by the system changing its name without making that change on the transfer form; or when the transfer mentions a rate of fare that has already been changed. For instance, the Portsmouth Electric Railway (Portsmouth, N. H.) has not had a five-cent fare for over five years, and yet their transfer tickets still state that they are good for a five-cent ride.

        In figuring the transfer privileges granted on any system from reading the matter on the forms, and in figuring the reverse transfer forms to be sought for (Sec. 14), the collector must always allow for the possibility of vestigial forms.

        35. Punches and ListingsIn the older forms of transfers, as many conditions of time and of place as were desired to be indicated, were expressed by punches. The various possible conditions were listed, each one separated from the other by a "box" (a line around the words, usually in the shape of a square or oblong), and the particular one out of the list of conditions that was intended to apply to the particular transfer was indicated by a hole punched through the paper in the particular box in question. This, of course, incidentally has the effect of obliterating a large portion of the printing, so that frequently a special punch-space near the box was reserved for the conductor's punch. In some cases as many as six holes had to be punched in a transfer, as, for instance, to indicate issuing line, transfer point, receiving line, month, date-number, and hour.

        This we will call the old-type transfer; it is still in use in many places, and the punch with the series of punch-spaces that it entails is still found to some extent or other in almost all transfer forms. There is, however, a tendency to eliminate punches as far as possible by various devices. In many cases this necessitates the issuance of many more transfer forms than were formerly necessary. With conditions of place, the conditions of use are very frequently listed as alternatives which present themselves to the user of the transfer, any of which he is at liberty to take. In such listing, where no punching is required to indicate which condition out of the list the passenger must take, the use of boxes is not necessary, and is usually, although not always, eliminated.

        In the case of conditions of time, punches have been more widely retained; but even here the tendency is to minimize them as much as possible. However, the old-type transfer is still so common, as well as the use of punches so general, that all devices used on transfers may be treated as variations of the old type.

        One curious use of punches is the "receiving punch" found in a few systems, such as the Richmond Light and Railroad Company in Staten Island, New York City, or the Scranton Railway Company in Scranton, Pa. The use of the "receiving punch," which is a special punch-space labelled with those words, provides a means for cancelling used transfers so that they cannot be reissued. When a transfer is received by the conductor, he punches it in that space, after which the transfer cannot be used again.

        Listing makes the transfer a more flexible thing; it is simply specified that the transfer is good under any one of a set of circumstances stated in the list; and it can be used in any of these ways. Combinations of punches and lists are also used; as, for example, where a punch in a definite space refers to a list below it, or in another part of the transfer. For example, on the Los Angeles Railway system, the forms issued on the Grand and Moneta line ("line M") have a little circle, which is punched out if the conductor issues the transfer after passing a certain point, and is therefore really expressive of initial fare limit; but it refers really to the endorsed conditions, of which there are two sets, one set being headed: "When punched in circle."

        36. Types and DevicesBesides punches and listings, there are other ways in which conditions may be denoted, such as attached coupons, special surcharges, particular circular or tabular arrangements of spaces, etc. All these we put under the heading of devices, a device covering most of the essential points of the transfer, and determining its general appearance, we will call a type of transfer. We shall have to consider very many types and devices, some of which are standard, and some even patented, while some are peculiar to particular systems or forms, and some are peculiar to certain printers. Most standard types and devices, whether patented or not, have their imitations, adaptations, and alterations, all of which the thorough transfer collector should note.


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