Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Battleship Revenues: The Documentaries

Since I started this blog a month ago I've focused on railroad cancels on the 2 cent documentary stamp. Yet there are 22 major varieties of documentary battleship stamps. There are also 24 major varieties of proprietary battleship stamps.

Below is an image of the 22 documentary varieties. The top 12 stamps are all rouletted between, rather than using normal round perforations. The bottom 10 stamps are all perforated with hyphen shape perforations known as hyphen holes. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing switched from using rouletting to hyphen-holes sometime in late 1899.
There are 12 rouletted stamps versus 10 hyphen-hole stamps because of the half cent varieties. Enough half cent stamps were printed before the switch to hyphen-holes so that no more half cent stamps were ordered after the switch to hyphen holes. There are two colors of half cent stamps, one orange and one gray. Orange was the original color of the half cent stamp but it was changed to gray because the orange stamp was the same color as the 3/8 cent proprietary stamp and caused too much confusion.

The values of the the documentary stamps include:

1/2 Cent
1 Cent
2 Cents
3 Cents
4 Cents
5 Cents
10 Cents
25 Cents
40 Cents
50 Cents
80 Cents

Railroad Cancels: Gulf and Ship Island Railroad


At the time this stamp was cancelled, the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad ran its mainline from Gulfport to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. By July 1900 the mainline extended to Jackson, the capital of the State. The railroad also ran a line to the Pearl River.

I grew up between New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and spent my summers around Gulfport, Biloxi and Pass Christian. The L&N maintained a bridge across the mouth of Bay St. Louis and the tracks curled north behind Gulfport.

The charter for Gulf and Ship Island Railroad gave it an easement out into the Mississippi Sound to Ship Island. How they used this water access I don't know other than it must have inspired the name of the railroad. As for the Gulf part of the name, Ship Island is a barrier island. The Mississippi sound is the body of water between the mainland and the barrier islands, with the Gulf of Mexico beyond.

As a child I would fish off the shores of Ship and Cat Island.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Railroad Cancels: Southern Indiana Railway


Not much to say here. Had to sort through whether this cancel was for the Spokane International or the Staten Island Railway. Neither is possible. This appears to have been a small and short-lived railroad.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Railroad Cancels: 1898 - 1902 Components of the BNSF -- Part 4: The Santa Fe

The Santa Fe, or the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, was chartered in 1859 and lasted as an independent railroad until its merger with the Burlington Northern in 1996.

The addition of the Santa Fe was the last major merger or acquisition in the creation of the BNSF.

"The A.T. & S.F. Ry. Co." is spelled out in the cancellation of thi stamp.

Railroad Cancels: 1898 - 1902 Components of the BNSF -- Part 3: Frisco

The Frisco operated from 1876 to 1980 in the midwest and south central United States. Despite its name, The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, the road never actually reached or got close to San Francisco.

In 1980 the Burlington Northern RR acquired the Frisco.

Below is a stamp cancelled by the Frisco in 1899.

Compare the route map for the Frisco below with current lines on the BNSF map. The old Frisco routes are a key part of the BNSF's system in the middle of the United States.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Railroad Cancels: 1898 - 1902 Components of the BNSF -- Part 2: The Northerns

The BNSF was created through the merger of two of the greatest American railroads, the Burlington Northern and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe RR, usually known as the Santa Fe.
The Burlington Northern was created through the merger of 4 railroads:
The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
The Northern Pacific Railway
The Great Northern Railway
The Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway.

BNSF route map. Mainlines of the 4 railroads comprising the 1970 merger can be seen on this map.

The Burlingtons featured in the previous post. The Great Northern and the Northern Pacific were both controlled by James J. Hill but were never fully merged. The Great Northern was Hill's creation and was built carefully, building business and settling populations as it laid it rail. The NP was built in greater haste with a view to reaching the Pacific quickly. It became a financial drain and remained so for years.

Logo for the Northern Pacific Railway. I have no image of any Northern Pacific cancels. If anybody can help me with one, please let me know.


The logo and stamp for the Great Northern have featured in a previous post.


Route map for the Great Northern Railway. The Burlington railroads and the two Northern railroads make up much of the upper half of the current BNSF system.

Railroad Cancels: 1898-1902 Components of the BNSF -- Part1: The Burlingtons


The BNSF is one of the largest railway systems in the United States today. It is made up of many former independent railways, many of which were viable and some of the greatest business in the United States during the Spanish American War tax period. This entry and coming entries will explore some of these independent railway components that would one day make up the BNSF.

This is the current BNSF route map. Many of the redlines on this map represent components of the mainlines of the following railroads, some of which will be represented by cancels on 1898 series documentary stamps.

Above is the logo or herald for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.
The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad was one of the greatest railroads in the midwest, and survived as an indpendent system until 1970. A CBQRR cancel is included at the end of this post.

This stamp displays a cancel for the Chicago, Burlington and Northern Railroad which was merged into the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy in 1899.

Compare elements of the routes on this route map of the CBQRR with the current BNSF route map. The map dates from 1892, after the absorption of the Burlington and Missouri River RR by the CBQRR.

Above is a printed cancellation for the Burlington and Missouri River RR in Nebraska; below is a handstamp. In the 1870s the BMRRR was absorbed and taken over by the CBQRR though it continued to have a separate identity.

Below is a common printed cancellation for the CBQRR.

Railroad Cancels: Wilburine Oil Works

Wilburine Oil Works repaired tank cars for Valvoline.

Railroad Cancels: Ann Arbor Railroad and Detroit and Lima Northern Railway


The logo above is for the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad which was organized in 1905 through a combination of the Detroit and Lima Northern Railway and the Ohio Southern Railway. The same year the DTI took control of the Ann Arbor Railroad, though it only maintained that control for 3 years.

Cancel for the Detroit and Lima Northern Railway. The D&LN connected Detroit with Lima, Ohio.

Cancel for the Ann Arbor Railroad. The AARR maintained a line from Ann Arbor to Lake Michigan shoreline and ran ferry services across Lake Michigan. The Wabash Railroad controlled the Ann Arbor (through stock ownership) from 1925 to 1963. An earlier post contains a Wabash RR cancel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Revenue Cancels: Grand Trunk Railway




It would seem likely that the band Grand Funk Railroad took its name from this railway. They did a great cover of the song "Locomotion," a perfect song for a band named after a railroad.


The Grand Trunk was a railroad primarily located in Canada, though it had operations in the New England and Midwestern States. Much of its Canadian right of way today is controlled by the Canadian National.



Railroad Cancels: Central of Georgia Railway



The Central of Georgia was originally conceived in 1833 and was one of America's longest lived Railroads. It is now a unit of Norfolk Southern.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Railroad Cancels: Austell Refrigerator Car Line

I don't have any information about these companies. Their straight line cancels and their Atlanta origin make me think they are related to other Atlanta railroad car lines from a previous post, like the Southern Iron Car Line. I post these here because the Continental Fruit Express cancel was from a refrigerator car line controlled by the meat packing company Armour.

Railroad Cancels: Contintental Fruit Express

A few posts back there are images from a set of connected companies that include the Southern Iron Car Line. These stamps were canceled by firms that were not railroads per se but were companies that controled railroad cars available for hire.

Continental Fruit Express was a company that controlled refrigerator cars that were leased or hired to railroads for shipping fruit from California back to the midwest and eastern United States. When companies like Contintenal were started the railroads did not have large stocks of refrigerator cars. Meat packing companies like Armour did, and started to use some of their cars used for meat to hire out for hauling fruit. The Chicago meat packing company Swift had a refrigerator car line called the California Fruit Transportation Company. Armour's was the Continental Fruit Express.



1 Cent Documentary stamp cancelled by the meat packing company Armour.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Railroad Cancels: Chicago and Alton Railroad




The logo above is for the C&A Railway. The C&A Railroad was reorganized into the Railway in 1900, not long after the use of this stamp.
A few entries back you can find an image of this stamp in the July 1898 calender page.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

1898 Revenues: Perforation Types

Perhaps the most significant feature of the 1898 revenue series beyond the basic battleship design is the method the Bureau of Engraving and Printing applied so that users could separate the stamps. Standard round perforations (now mostly history due to die cutting used on self-stick stamps) were not used on the 1898 revenues. Instead, the Bureau used both "rouletting" and rectangular perforations.

Roulette: The block above has been rouletted. As you can see by looking between the stamps, there appear to be a series of cuts. These were made by a wheel with the equivalent of short knife blades on it that cut in between the stamps. The process removes no paper and does not make a hole. By this standard a roulette is not a perforation.

Hyphen Hole: The block below has hyphen hole perforations. This process is a perforation process and does remove paper from the stamp sheet. Unlike normal round perforations these are oblong slots that look something like hyphens, hence the name hyphen hole.

When the stamps first appeared in 1898 they were exclusively scored using rouletting. By early 1900 only hyphen-holes were used by the Bureau. I chose blocks to illustrate the difference between roulette and hyphen-hole. Single stamps make it sometimes difficult at first glance to detect the difference between hyphen hole and roulette. Formally, hyphen-hole stamps on this issue are labeled as HH 7 since there are 7 holes per inch. Rouletting in R 5.5, since there are 5 and half roulette cuts per inch.
The 2 cent documentaries did have stamps that were issued without any rouletting, at least as partial roulettes. There are no known stamps, at least to my knowledge, that are combined imperforate and hyphen hole.

Railroad Cancels: Michigan Central RR Bank Check to the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa RR





The second of the above 4 images is a check from the Michigan Central Railroad to the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Railroad for paying forwarding freight charges from the MCRR's South Bend Station.
The 3rd image is a 2 cent documentary stamp cancelled by II&I, or Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa RR.

2 Cent Documentary Battleship Calender



This is the July 1898 page from Henry Tolman's 2 Cent Battleship Calender. It is typical of the forward months of the calender through the tax period requiring these stamps. Most of the dates are occupied by cancels from railroads. Some dates the origin can't be determined and the remainder dates are completed by banks, industrial concerns, and other companies.
For those unfamiliar with calender collections of the 1898 tax period, dates are filled in by stamps cancelled for each date the tax was valid. July 1898 was the first full month that individuals and businesses were responsible for the taxes payable through stamps during the Spanish-American war. The month of July is complete for most dates except for four Sundays, when business was not normally transacted.

Railroads to note for July 1898 include:

Michigan Central RR July 1, 2, 4, 14, 16, 22, 23, 30, 31
Great Northern RR July 5
Deleware, Lackawana, and Western RR July 6
Wisconsin Central July 7
Illinois Central Railway July 8
Blue, Canada and Southern Lines July 12
Chicago, Burlington and Northern RR July 13
Burlington and Missouri River RR July 15
Chicago and Alton Railroad July 20
Wabash RR July 21
Grand Trunk RR July 25
Lake Shore and Michigan Southern RR July 26

Tolman placed notes in the margins. In the left margin is a note for the Great Northern Railway; in the top margin is a note identifying the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska.

Note the Michigan Central cancel for July 4 and the Michigan Central cancel for Sunday, July 31.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Railroad Cancels: Blue and Canadian Southern Lines

I need some help here. I can't find any meaningful information online about this railroad, except from sources that at least confirm it is a railroad but not much else: obituaries of former employees. The New York Times obituary of one former employee did mention that this railroad had an office, if not headquarters, in Chicago. Does anyone have information?

Monday, April 6, 2009

2 Cent Documentary Taxes

Bank check with 2 cent documentary stamp paying required tax.
Bill of foreign exchange. Tax stamps, both US and French, are on the back.



The Revenue Act for the funding of the Spanish-American War required taxes on certain documents representing business transactions. Hence the term "documentary tax": Tax stamps were applied directly to the documents representing the transaction, such as bank checks and stock transfer receipts. Specific to the current concern of this blog for the 2 cent documentary stamp, the following transactions were taxed at the rate of 2 cents:

1. Stock Transfers: All sales, or agreements to sell, or memoranda of sales or deliveries or transfers of shares of certificates of stock for each $100 in face value or fraction thereof;

2. Bank Checks: For each bank check, draft, or certificate of deposit not drawing interest, or order for the payment of any sum of money, drawn upon or issued by any bank, trust company, or any person or persons, companies, or corporations at sight or on demand;

3. Bills of exchange (inland), draft, certificate of deposit drawing interest, order for the payment of any sum of money, otherwise than at sight or demand, or any promissory note except bank notes issued for circulation, and for renewal of the same, for each $100 in value or fraction thereof;

4. Foreign bills of exchange or letters of credit (including orders by telegraph or otherwise for the payment of money issued by express or other companies or any person or persons), drawn in but payable out of the U.S., if drawn drawn in sets of two or more, according to the customs of merchants or bankers, for each $100 or fraction thereof for each instrument;

5. Certificates of profits (e.g., certificates of deposit, interest-bearing notes, bills of exchange, money orders), for each $100 face value or fraction thereof.

Of course, 2 cent stamps might have been used to pay multiples or fractions of other tax rates. but these were the uses of single 2 cent stamp.
**Note: This is the first instance of "virtual collecting" I've done on this blog. The images of the documents above were taken from sellers' images available on eBay. As I've written before, I currently live in Nairobi, Kenya, and do not have my collection with me. I work with scans of my collection. It is easy though, to borrow images of the web to demonstrate my point on occasion.