Short snorter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
An American banknote (one dollar bill) that has several signatures on it.
General Hoyt Vandenberg's $1 short snorter

A short snorter is a banknote inscribed by people traveling together on an aircraft. The tradition was started by Alaskan Bush flyers in the 1920s and spread through the military and commercial aviation.[1][2] During World War II short snorters were signed by flight crews and conveyed good luck to soldiers crossing the Atlantic.[3] Friends would take the local currency and sign each other's bills creating a "keepsake of your buddy's signatures".[4]

The General Hoyt Vandenberg short snorter was started in June 1942 flight over the mid-Atlantic. The Harry Hopkins short snorter was collected on July 25, 1942, by an aide of Franklin D. Roosevelt at a London Conference. The D. Ray Comish short snorter was collected January 1943 at the Casablanca Conference by Dixie Clipper. The Averell Harriman short snorter was collected by him at the January 1943 Casablanca Conference as well. The General George S. Patton snorter signatures were also collected at the Casablanca Conference. The Yalta short snorter signatures were collected on February 4–11, 1945 by Steve Early at Yalta, on the Crimean Peninsula.


Merriam-Webster defines a short snorter as either "a member of an informal club for which a pilot, crew member, or passenger who has made a transoceanic flight is eligible"; or "a piece of paper money (as a dollar bill) endorsed by short snorters as a membership certificate for a new member."[5] "Snort" is slang for a "mixed drink,"[6] and "short" specifies less than a full measure.[7][8]

According to a November 2002 article in The Numismatist, "About 100 years ago, a “short snort” was a slang expression for less than a full shot of liquor. Pouring short snorts guaranteed barkeepers a little extra profit in each bottle. Also, drinking only a short snort allowed the imbiber to honestly point to his moderation. Years before federal aviation regulations, pilots discovered that alcohol and airplanes do not mix, and fly-boys who drank heavily did not live long. Soon, pilots jokingly were calling each other “short snorter.”[9]


The tradition is believed to have been started in August 1925 in Alaska, United States.[7] Jack Ashcroft and other Bush pilots started the tradition, which resulted in spreading through the United States military. When the short snorter was signed, the collector would have to produce it upon request, if not, they are bound to give the signer a drink.[1][7] Short snorters sell on eBay and at other auction venues.

During World War II reunions, short snorters were often compared by veterans. John McGarry, executive director of the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon, Michigan, said that every short snorter is "unique because every soldier's story is different."[10][11]

The Short Snorter Project[edit]

In March 2009, Thomas Sparks founded The Short Snorter Project, an American 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organized and registered in Washington "for educational purposes" pertaining to short snorters.[12] One aspect of the Project's mission is "to illuminate the Short Snorter and those associated with the tradition and provide a means to educate the general public about these artifacts brought home from the war."[13]

Notable short snorters[edit]

General Hoyt Vandenberg short snorter[edit]

Collector Date Location Ref
General Hoyt Vandenberg June 1942 Over the mid-Atlantic. [1]

Harry Hopkins short snorter[edit]

Collector Date Location Ref
Aide of Franklin D. Roosevelt July 25, 1942 London Conference [1]

D. Ray Comish short snorters[edit]

Collector Date Location Ref
Dixie Clipper January 1943 Dixie Clipper flight [1]

Averell Harriman short snorter[edit]

Collector Date Location Ref
Averell Harriman January 1943 Casablanca Conference [1]

General George S. Patton short snorter[edit]

Collector Date Location Ref
General George S. Patton Unavailable Casablanca Conference [1]

Yalta short snorter[edit]

Collector Date Location Ref
Steve Early February 4–11, 1945 Casablanca Conference [1]

Other short snorters[edit]

Short Snorter signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt
Collector Date Location Ref
Unavailable November 22, 1943 Tehran Conference [21]

It was signed by Franklin Roosevelt and various key advisors.[21]

A Fiji Island 5 Schilling note is another example of a short snorter owned by Eleanor Roosevelt and signed by Maj. Robert Arnoldus. This same short snorter was later signed by COL Ed Whitcomb, another of the first class of celestial navigators, class 40-A, taught by Charlie Lunn of Pan Am airlines in Florida. That first class also included celestial navigator 2Lt Louis Gustav Moslener, Jr,[22] one of the first American casualties of WW-II when the first bombs fell on Hickam Field, 7 Dec 1941.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Home Page - What is a Short Snorter?". The Short Snorter Project. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ News clipping 1941
  3. ^ Critical Companion to John Steinbeck: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work - Jeffrey D. Schultz, Luchen Li - Google Books
  4. ^ Famous Short Snorters | History Detectives | PBS
  5. ^ "short snorter (noun):". Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "snort (noun)". Merriam Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Investigations - Short Snorter". History Detectives. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  8. ^ "short (adjective)". Merriam Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Marotta, Michael E. (November 2002). "Short Snorters: Keeping the Memories Alive" (PDF). The Numismatist. Retrieved 7 October 2013. Haunted by the specter of war and the uncertainty of their fate, young soldiers, sailors and airmen forged an unbreakable bond, not of steel but of paper money. 
  10. ^ McVicar, Brian (February 22, 2010). "Short snorter' dollar bill is a piece of World War II history -- and mystery". The Muskegon Chronicle. 
  11. ^ Travis, Jordan (March 6, 2010). "World War II 'short snorter' dollar bill owner remains a mystery". The Muskegon Chronicle. 
  12. ^ "THE SHORT SNORTER PROJECT". Corporations Division - Registration Data Search. Washington Secretary of State Corporations Division. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Short Snorter Project, The". Charitable Solicitations Program Charity Profile Report. Washington Secretary of State Charities Program. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Hoyt Vandenberg Short Snorter". The Short Snorter Project. October 3, 2007. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Harry Hopkins Short Snorter". The Short Snorter Project. August 8, 2007. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Son of That Mother of All Short Snorters" (PDF). The Short Snorter Project. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  17. ^ "D. Ray Comish Short Snorters". The Short Snorter Project. September 17, 2007. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Averell Harriman Short Snorter". The Short Snorter Project. October 3, 2007. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Short-Snorter Dollar Bill". U.S. Army Center Of Military History. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Yalta Snorter from the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum". The Short Snorter Project. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "Franklin D. Roosevelt". American Heritage Center, Inc. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  22. ^ 2Lt Louis G. Moslener, Jr. was killed near his B-24A at Hickam Field by the first string of Japanese bombs to land on Hickam Field.

External links[edit]