Each of the prints was accompanied by a Spec Card and an Intro Letter from the reigning marketing VP. These two items are important players in discovering the series' history.
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These "cards" look like bookmarks and measure 2 1/2" wide x 7" high. Printed on a heavy card stock in black and white, each contains the name of the aircraft, a brief description and technical information. Sometimes the name of the aircraft is slightly different than the title that artist Nick Galloway scripted on the face of the print.
At the top of the card is the United logo and the text "Collector Series". The earliest cards show the older UA logo with the three words "United Air Lines". Later cards (1975 and beyond) show the newer UA logo and two words: "United Airlines". Also, on the earlier cards the text is in a "softer" Times New Roman serif type font. The later cards presented a bolder, cleaner text in a sans serif font.
Lastly, the bottom of earlier cards contained a series of numbers and letters. I have concluded that the last 2 numbers represent the year the card was printed. Later cards contain the full copyright date at the bottom. The 1979 cards also provide order information in the numbers at the bottom. See Series Order in the About the Series page for more about order and issue dates.
The First Card (and Print!)
I refer to the Boeing 40B-4 as the "No Date" print. It simply shows "@ United Air Lines"
on the bottom of the print- where all the others have a copyright date. And the card that I
believe accompanied it shows "973" at the bottom, which I think
indicates 1973 (perhaps, September, 1973) as the print date.
card has a paragraph below the technical data that provides bio
information on artist Nixon Galloway. Early on in my collecting, I
noticed this was the only card that has text dedicated to the artist. At
that point, I had not seen the intro letter that came with this print.
But for these two reasons (the "No
Date" and the Galloway bio on the card) I believed this Boeing 40B-4
print was the first in the series. I later confirmed this when I saw the
intro letter that came with the issuance of this first print on January
Left: Earlier Example - The first card! Right: Later Example
Notice: Logo and Font Differences Unusual Galloway Bio on Left Card
In addition to a Spec Card, each print came with an Intro Letter signed by the UA VP of the day. There are many interesting details surrounding the letters.
Print #1, the Boeing 40B-4 didn't really come with a letter. In its envelope was an 11" x 17" insert that announced the frequent flier program and introduced the first print. Prints #2 thru #8 (all copyright dated 1973) were accompanied by an 8 1/2" x 11" letter that was signed by VP Ferris and sported the older colored UA logo, with a PO Box listed directly below it.
Later letters (copyright dated 1975 and beyond) measure 7" x 10 1/2", feature the newer UA logo and have the PO Box listed at the bottom of the page. Surprisingly, none of the letters bear any issue dates - so it is difficult to use them in establishing the issue sequencing of the prints. As mentioned elsewhere, several different VPs signed the letters over the course of the program. And since many of the prints where issued multiple times, several VPs have signed letters that are connected with the same print.
Intro Letter Older Example
Detail of Older Letterhead Logo
Detail of Later Letterhead Logo
Detail of VP Signature
The letters that accompanied the first issue of the first eighteen prints in the series indicated the print's order in their text. This is a concrete way to establish the order. See Print Issue Methodology in About the Series for more on the series order.
Ryan M-1's Intro Letter Indicating the Print's Order in the Series.