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Notes on the Collection of Transfers

W. J. Sidis




        37. What Constitutes Dating. By the dating of a transfer we mean any indication given on the transfer as to the date of issue and use. Considering that transfers are not intended for stop-over purposes (this is stated in so many words on many transfer forms), it follows that the date of issue will be the date of use; and, in order to have a check on this, some indication of the date of issue must be made on the transfer. Of course, where the second car is boarded soon after 12 o'clock midnight, we might consider this as an exception; but, for such purposes, we might figure that the old way has not yet expired, and the general principle would still not be vitiated.

        The items of information which constitute such dating, are the year, the month, the day of the week, and the day of the month. Of these, only the month and the day of the month are really necessary. The year and the day of the week are usually not expressed at all, but either might be put on the transfer. To put in both of these would simply be a double check; for instance, September 1, 1924 could be only on Monday, while a Monday, September 1, does not occur every year, but only every five or six. In most cases it is not considered worth while to indicate anything more than the month and the day of the month (date-number).

         In the old-type transfers the date is punched, requiring twelve punch-spaces for the month and thirty-one for the date-number. Exact arrangement differs, but usually the months come in natural order, beginning with January and ending with December. No extra space is needed for the punch, for the order alone tells what month or date-number was printed ill the space where the punch-hole is. Months and date-numbers may be arranged in a single horizontal row or vertical column, or in several rows or columns. A tabular form for these is common; that is, an array of rows and columns. In the "Franklin Rapid Transfer," for example, the arrangement is somewhat as follows:

JAN JUL 1 2 3 4 5 6
FEB AUG 7 8 9 10 11 12
MAR SEP 13 14 15 16 17 18
APR OCT 19 20 21 22 23 24
MAY NOV 25 26 27 28 29 30

         This is a sample of tabular arrangement. In other cases, the punch-spaces are arranged around the margin of the transfer, as with the Moran Patent forms and the Pittsburgh transfers.

         The Frankford, Tacony, and Holmesburg Street Railway Company issues transfers in which punch-spaces for the day of the week are also provided, marked in order with the names of the seven days of the week. This system does not provide any way to indicate month on its transfer forms.

         Since we consider the old-type transfer forms as the standard from which all others are to be treated as variations, the collector may safely consider these punch-spaces as the standard way of indicating the dating of a transfer, except where other devices have been introduced to replace the punch.

         38. The Date-Number SurchargeIn many transfer forms, although the month still continues to be punched as in the old type, a variation is made by the date-number being surcharged over the transfer, usually in red. In a few systems, such as the Easton Transit Company, a special space is reserved for this surcharge, which takes such a form as "15th DAY." But the ordinary use of the date-number surcharge does not reserve such a space, although the number is surcharged over the regular printing so that the printing can be seen through it. This surcharge consists merely of a number and nothing else, and is usually along the length of the transfer, whether the body of the printing on the form is that way or not.

        Transfers of the New York State Railways issued in Rochester have the week-day surcharged instead of the date-number, there being no further indication of the date.

        The forms having a special space reserved for the surcharge, and where it is in the form as indicated above (――day), we may call the "Easton date surcharge" after the city where they are found. The other device we may call the ordinary date-number surcharge. We mention the following systems as using this device of a date-number surcharge:

Northampton (Mass.) Street Railway.
New York and Stamford Railway. (Except Stamford form.)
Richmond Light and Railroad Company. (Staten Island, N. Y. City.)
Westchester Street Railroad Company. (White Plains, N. Y.)
Atlantic City and Shore system.
Atlantic Coast Electric Railway. (Asbury Park, N. J.)
Mauch Chunk and Lehighton Transit Company. (Uses Easton surcharge.)
Reading Transit and Light Company.
Easton Transit Company. (Easton date surcharge.)
Scranton Railway Company.
Washington Railway and Electric Company.
Washington Rapid Transit Company.
East Saint Louis Railway Company.
New Orleans Public Service. (Special space at top of transfer reserved for date-number surcharge.)
Houston Electric Company. (Regular general form only.)
El Paso Electric Railway Company.
Market Street (San Francisco) Railway Company.
Municipal Railway of San Francisco. (Date-number surcharge on these forms is green.)
San Francisco-Oakland Terminal Railways.
San Diego Electric Railway Company.
Hamilton (Ont.) Street Railway Company. (Black date-number surcharge on front and back, in specially reserved space.)
Los Angeles Railway. (1920 issue.)

         On four of these systems we have what we may call a "hollow surcharge," in which the surcharged type is hollow, thus: 20. These are the Northampton, the El Paso, the Los Angeles, and the Oakland systems.

        39. Month SurchargeSometimes, instead of the date-number, it is the month that is surcharged, again usually in red. This, however, is not common, being mostly confined to forms of the Moran patent type and those resembling the Moran type, such as the forms issued by the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company in Staten Island, New York City. In forms of such type, the month is indicated by a surcharge in a specially reserved space along the length of the transfer (though the transfer itself is usually vertical), and the date-number is punched in the margin, the numbers 1 to 31 appearing in order around three sides of the transfer margin. In the Moran type, the fourth side is used to attach coupons to.

        40. Surcharge of Complete DateIn many systems, the complete date is surcharged on the transfer, thereby obviating all necessity of punching out the date every time a transfer is issued. This surcharge is usually in red, and in a space reserved for it. However, there is, in this case, considerable variation in the color of the surcharge, and the date is sometimes rubber-stamped or printed in. The Cincinnati Traction Company surcharges the date over the regular printing of the transfer.

        By a complete date is meant enough to identify the date, and usually includes, besides the month and date-number, either the week-day or the year, and sometimes both. Practically always, both week-days and months are abbreviated. Ordinarily this information is printed in the order one would naturally use, namely: week-day, month, date-number, and year. But sometimes a distinctive arrangement is adopted, as on the Brooklyn transfers, where the year appears below the date-number, and the month to the left of both.

        Where there is a complete date surcharge, the date is very frequently similarly surcharged on attached coupons. In the Smith patent type of transfer, and in many of its imitations and adaptations, this is the case.

        We may also note that frequently the year is abbreviated by the omission of the century figures.

        We mention the following systems as using the complete date surcharge:

Connecticut Company. (Both week-day and abbr. year.)

New York Railways system. (Except 8th and 9th Ave. RR's; surcharge includes week-day and year, and is on all attached coupons. On free transfer forms, color of surcharge depends on direction of issuing line.)

Third Avenue Railway system. (Includes year; on coupons. )

Second Avenue Railroad Company. (Both week-day and year.)

Fifth Avenue Coach Company. (On all coupons; includes weekday. Surcharge is color of diagonal bars.)

Interborough Rapid Transit system. (Includes week- day and year. Date-number in red; rest printed in black. )

Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system. Includes year; green surcharges.)

Brooklyn City Railroad. (Same arrangement as Brooklyn-Manhattan. )

Long Island Railroad. (Fare receipts; year included.)

New York and Queens County Railway system. (On forms issued before June, 1923. Year included; date also on attached coupons with abbreviated year. Forms issued in summer of 1922 have rubber-stamped date. )

Long Island Electric system. (Year included; date rubber-stamped.)

Public Service Railway, New Jersey. (One-cent transfer forms; on attached coupon; week-day included on body of transfer, and abbreviated year on coupon.)

Trenton and Mercer County Traction Corporation. (Week-day included.)

Hudson and Manhattan Railroad. (Date rubber-stamped by time-clock on New Jersey refund coupons; red surcharge including year on exit coupons issued in N. J.)

Philadelphia Rapid Transit system. (Date, including week-day, printed on regular forms and surcharged on "exchange" forms.)

Wilkes-Barre Railway Company. (Regular forms only. Include week-day and abbreviated year.)

United Traction Company, Albany and vicinity. (Including week-day and year.)

United Railways and Electric Company, (Including week-day and year.)

Capitol Traction Company, Washington. (Year abbreviated.)

Washington Railway and Electric Company. (Including week-day and year; on inter-company form only.)

Chicago Surface Lines. (Printed; year on margin.)

Columbus Railway, Power and Light Company. (Week-day.) 

Cincinnati Traction Company. (Including year; surcharge blue on red forms.)

Cincinnati, Newport, and Covington Railway. (Week-day and year.)

United Railways of St. Louis. (Including year.)

Kansas City Railways. (Including year; on attached coupons; surcharge red on P. M. forms, black on A. M. forms.)

California Street Cable Railroad, San Francisco. (Printed; year abbreviated.)

Los Angeles Railway. (1921 issue; week-day; on attached coupon; surcharge color different for A. M. and P. M.)

         The surcharge is to be considered as a complete date where the month and date-number are specified, together with any further dating that may be necessary. It is not complete if any part of the date is left to be indicated in some other manner. On transfers of the Cincinnati Traction Company, the date surcharge also contains the letters "AM" or "PM" as the case may be.

        41. Date-Code Surcharge. In some recently issued transfer forms, the entire device of dating has been replaced by a printed or surcharged code. No year, no month, no weekday, no date-number, is indicated anywhere on the transfer form; but some design or combination of letters or numbers with no apparent meaning is substituted. This date-code, as we may call it, is changed every day. Besides being an abbreviated form of dating, it also has the advantage that successive dates are indicated by marks that are not alike.

        In the 1924 issue of transfers on the Los Angeles Railway system, there are fourteen different designs used for surcharges, a different one for each day. After two weeks, when all fourteen designs have been used, the same cycle is repeated. These designs are surcharged over the regular printing, both on the main body of the transfer and on the attached route coupon. The designs are: (1) the split circle; (2) the hollow T; (3) the star; ( 4) the square; (5) the four-triangle cross; (6) the figure-of-eight; (7) the double segment; (8) the inverted triangle or del; (9) the heart; (10) the inverted mushroom; (11) the split square; (12) the spearhead; (13) the Greek cross; (14) the crescent.

        Although the number of such geometrical designs is not particularly limited, it would still need a very complicated system to get a very large number of them. At the other end of the continent, the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway did the same thing by surcharging a single letter, which was changed each day. This is done in a specially reserved space which, on many transfer forms, is actually labelled DATE. Although, as I believe, only fourteen letters are actually used there in this way, making a two-week cycle similar to that in Los Angeles, the device has the capacity of running twenty-six days without indicating two days alike. The International Railway in Buffalo, N. Y., and vicinity, has adopted a two-letter surcharge over the regular printing, this surcharge being changed each day. This is also done in Seattle and in Portland, Ore. The number of days this can run without a duplication in date-code is 26 X 26, or 676; that is, it could cover a cycle of nearly two years. The date-code printed in on Denver transfers consists either of two letters or a number and a letter. Considering I and 0 as common to the letters and numbers, we have 34 characters, and, deducting the simple two-figure numbers, the number of combinations is 34 X 34 ― 100, or 1,056. So that the Denver date-code could run for nearly three years before repeating itself.

        If we extended the code to three symbols, the cycle would have a much longer run. On the Buffalo arrangement of using letters only, with three letters instead of two, the number of arrangements would be the cube of 26, or 17,576. Such a device could run without duplication for that number of days, or for a little over forty-eight years. And if we added the possibility of using letters and numbers, as in Denver, such a device could run without duplication for 343 ― 1,000, or 38,304 days; that is, for about 104 years. Surely this ought to be sufficient for all practical purposes.

        42. Color Check on DatingIt occasionally happens that, as a further check on the dating used, the colors of transfers will be changed at intervals. Thus, in the regular transfer forms as issued by the Connecticut Company, there is a complete date surcharge; but, as a further check on the month, the color of transfer is changed regularly on the first of each month. There are five colors used, and each one is used in a different month. Thus the color of the transfer, in a way, indicates the month of issue. This is not, however, a complete indication, for, after five months, they must return to a color that had been used before; so that pink transfers were issued in October, 1923, and again in September, 1924.

        In other systems the color is changed every day. This is to prevent transfers of the day before from being passed. The arrangement is adopted in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, N. Y.; it is preferably used where the system is small enough to issue only a single form.

        Simply on account of the comparatively small variety of readily distinguishable colors, the color schedule could hardly be expected to replace completely any other form of dating. It can merely be used as a check on the dating of transfers, which are to be dated in some other way.

43. Jumbled Dating. On a few systems where dating is indicated by punches, the order of the punch-spaces is frequently jumbled, probably in order to prevent similarity between transfers issued on successive days or months. In the two main street car systems operating in San Francisco, the date-number surcharge is used, but the month is punched. The months are listed on the punch-spaces so jumbled that no two successive months appear in adjacent spaces, The Market Street Railway Company arranges the months in two rows of six each, as follows:


         The Municipal Railway arranges them in a single row, in the following order: Feb., Jun., Nov., Apr., Aug., May, Jan., Oct., Mar., Jul., Dec., Sep.

        In the case of the transfers issued in Pittsburgh, both months and date-numbers are arranged around the margin in a jumbled order, as the following represents:

         Here, even dates are on the top margin, and odd dates on the bottom. Both dates and months are jumbled very systematically, as inspection will show. On the whole, however, it would seem that this sort of jumble tends to confusion, and that may explain its rarity.

        44. Undated Forms It happens occasionally that transfer forms will be obtained without any date whatever on them. In the case of true transfers this is rare, but it sometimes happens, especially where the date is hand-stamped, and the stamping is omitted in this particular case. In the forms issued by the Long Island Electric system this occasionally happens; in the issues of transfers of the New York and Queens County Railway during the summer of 1922, when this rubber-stamping of dates had been introduced as an emergency matter, omission of the date stamp was fairly common.

        But undated forms are more common where we are not dealing with true transfers, but with fare receipts, etc. On the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad system, the refund and exit coupons issued in New York have no date on them. The reason is that they are issued and used under such circumstances as to make their misuse (at least, as to date and hour) very unlikely.

        Another case of undated transfers is found in some emergency forms. The rapid transit lines of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system, when the trains are tied up, usually issue "block ticket" forms, supposed to be good anywhere on the system within forty-eight hours. These are supposed to have the date surcharge common to all forms issued by that system, but usually the dating is not put on.

        We may also note that transfers are frequently issued without the punches they are supposed to have; and this applies equally to dating, where that is the mode of indication. We might, however, note that the International Railway in Buffalo uses a date-code, but also retains the old punch-spaces for dating, which are not used because they are vestigial.


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