Scope and Content
Title: Jay T. Last Collection of American Transportation: Railroad Passes
Dates (inclusive): 1848-1980
Bulk dates: 1860-1960
Collection Number: priJLC_TRAN_Passes
Last, Jay T.
approximately 3,055 items in 14 binders
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens:
Rare Books Department
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Abstract: The Railroad Passes in the Jay T. Last Collection of American Transportation consist of over 3,000 railroad passes issued
primarily by American railroad companies to individuals in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the bulk of the collection dating
from 1860 to 1960.
Finding aid last updated on October 11, 2013.
The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information,
please visit the Huntington's website:
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office
of the Library Director.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to
include or imply permission of the
copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
[Item title, Call number]. Jay T. Last Collection of American Transportation: Railroad Passes, The Huntington Library, San
This collection forms part of the Jay T. Last Collection of Lithographic and Social History, which was
donated to the Huntington Library by Jay T. Last in 2005 as a gift in progress. The bulk of the transportation ephemera was transferred to the Library in 2010.
The Jay T. Last Collection is an unparalleled archive of printed paper artifacts that documents American lithographic, social,
and business history. The collection began in the early 1970s when
physicist and Silicon Valley pioneer Jay Last moved to Southern California and started collecting citrus box labels he found
at local flea markets and rummage sales. As his collection grew,
Last realized that these labels conveyed important information about commercial printing, graphic design, and social history,
and he expanded his collection to include other forms
of American visual culture. Today this collection contains more than 140,000 lithographic prints, posters, and ephemera of
mostly nineteenth and early twentieth century American
origin and represents works by more than five hundred lithographic companies.
Related materials in the Huntington Library include:
Scope and Content
The Railroad Passes in the Jay T. Last Collection of American Transportation consist of over 3,000 railroad passes issued
primarily by American railroad companies to individuals in the 19th and 20th centuries. The passes provided the pass holder
with permission to ride on the railroad, usually through the end of the calendar
year, and the passes in the collection bear a variety of titles including annual pass, season ticket, time pass, free ticket,
exchange ticket, and complimentary ticket. The bulk of the collection dates from 1860
to 1960, but among the earliest passes in the collection is one issued by the Schenectady and Troy Railroad in 1848; one of
the most recent items is a 1980 pass
for the homemade narrow-gauge Anacortes Railway.
The passes typically contain printed text with the railroad company’s name, rules governing the use of the pass, and year,
with spaces to be filled in with the pass holder’s name and affiliation (often another railroad company),
the pass number, and the authorizing signature of an executive of the railroad such as the president, superintendent, or secretary.
Most of the passes in the collection are filled out in manuscript, or are typewritten in the 20th century,
though some are blank. The passes average 2 ¼ x 4 inches in size and are typically printed on cardstock of varying colors,
and many include multiple-color printing.
The decorative details of the passes vary across the collection, though most examples from the late 19th century and early
20th centuries contain engraved or lithographed designs and images. Visual decorations include patterned borders
and scrollwork, logos, and vignettes primarily with transportation-related images such as railroad locomotives and trains,
as well as buildings, views of landscapes, rivers and bridges, and wilderness scenes, and animals.
Some passes have printed maps or pass conditions and rules printed on the card verso.
American railroad companies issued the majority of passes primarily for annual travel on commercial passenger lines. Among
the anomalies in the collection are passes of interurban electric lines, foreign railroad companies, primarily from Canada
and Latin America
countries, such as passes of the Ferrocarril Mexicano, a 1934 pass of the South Manchurian Railway, a 1936 pass for the Liverpool
Overhead Railway, as well as a 1861 blank form providing passage for Illinois State Troops by the Illinois Central Railroad
a United States Railroad Administration 1921 pass for William C. Curtin, an accountant in the Office of the Comptroller, with
his photograph pasted on the verso.
Many of the passes include a printer credit line, and well over a hundred different printers are named on the passes. A sampling
of some of the printing companies more heavily represented in the collection include the American Bank Note Company of New
the Bailey, Banks & Biddle Company of Philadelphia; Calvert Lithographing Company of Detroit; the Courier-Journal Engraving
Company of Louisville, Kentucky; Gast of St. Louis; Hosford & Sons of New York; Maverick, Stephan & Company of New York; Poole
Brothers of Chicago; Rand, Avery &
Company of Boston; Rand, McNally & Company of Chicago; S.C. Toof & Company of Memphis; the Western Bank Note Company of Chicago,
and Woodward, Tiernan & Hale of St. Louis.
The collection is physically arranged in fourteen binders first by century (with eight binders containing passes from the
1800s, and the following six containing passes from the 1900s),
and then alphabetically by company name.
Business records -- United States -- 19th century.
Business records -- United States -- 20th century.
Advertising -- Railroads.
Railroads -- Pictorial works.
Railroads -- United States -- Maps.