The Traditional Pass
The traditional or cardstock
pass is the oldest form of pass exchanged between modelers and has been
around for a good fifty years. They can be framed for display on the
wall, you can use pins in a map to show where they come from or you can
simply collect them. They can be produced on anything from a mimeograph
machine to a professional printer and the home computer printer.
This business-card document today
represents an open invitation to the owner for a visit to the home layout
and still can be found at club meetings and conventions but is most often
exchanged through the mail. Most pass collectors will include a letter
that often includes a few simple checkboxes such as:
Thanks for your pass
is my pass in return for the one you sent
is my pass
you please send me your pass?
There is usually some form of
other enclosure ranging from a fictional history of the railroad, a
biography or some sort of humorous materials such as jokes or witty
sayings. I have also seen very nicely done fictitious stock certificates
suitable for framing. These are sometimes sold for a few dollars to help
defray the cost of trading passes as well as to provide something
interesting to hang on the wall.
The hardest part of collecting of
course is finding new names to trade with. The NMRA Bulletin carries a
list of new names every month and you can get a list of currently active
traders. Some collectors will give you the names of a few friends for
you to try. Other publications will post lists from time to time.
I have several passes that where
printed on plain paper but most use some kind of cardstock. Ask for
Heavyweight Cardstock between 90 and 110 lbs for a good heavy paper.
This is light enough to pass through your printer yet heavy enough to
endure a bit of handling. If you want a colored background and want to
save on ink ask for a light color such as buff, salmon or light green
etc. NOTE: be sure that if you purchase anything over 8-1/2 wide your
printer will handle it. BEWARE: printing the background color of a
printed pass eats color ink cartridges like crazy.
can buy “business card” stock that is perforated for easy separation but
this is a bit more expensive, it is usually a lighter-weight stock and your
selection in colors is limited. I prefer to cut mine apart using a
hobby knife. If you do it this way you can make things easier by
printing a small ‘+’ symbol. Just line the edge of a steel ruler up and
cut without having to measure.
A nice finishing touch is to use
a punch to round the corners to a 1/8 – ¼ radius.
Pass collecting can be fun but
no matter how cheap you make the pass there will always be certain
expenses. Postage within the USA is $0.39, to Mexico or Canada it is $0.60 and to the rest of the world it is $0.80. There is also the cost of the
cardstock, envelope, and printer ink. I figure each pass costs about a
dollar to make and mail and it takes about an hour to reply to a pass I