Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cancel for September 30: Wickes Brothers

Wickes
SEP   30   1898
Bro's.



The first version of the Wickes company was founded by brothers Henry Dunn Wickes and Edward Noyes Wickes, in Flint, Michigan. The Wickes family had left New York state and settled in Flint in 1854, and were soon modestly established in the area's burgeoning lumber business. Michigan possessed some of the thickest and choicest pine forests in the United States, and land could be purchased at the bargain price of only $1.25 per acre. The Wickes brothers, along with H.W. Wood, established the Genesee Iron Works, a foundry and machine shop specializing in repair work and the casting of odd metal parts for equipment used in the logging and lumber business. Yet the pig iron the company used had to be hauled in from Saginaw, Michigan, by ship and wagon; conversely, the equipment the foundry manufactured was being hauled back to Saginaw for shipment. As the company's business increased, it became obvious that the closer the foundry was to Saginaw--a boom town at the time--the more efficient and profitable the operation would be.

Life in Saginaw did not appeal to H.W. Wood, however--the landscape was composed mostly of the swampland and mosquito-infested marshes adjacent to Lake Huron--so in 1864 he sold out to the Wickes brothers. That same year, the company's name was changed to the Wickes Bros. Iron Works. During these years, Henry Wickes developed and marketed the Wickes gang saw, a steam-powered mill saw capable of ripping two or three logs into boards simultaneously. In 1869 the company made some basic improvements to the gang saw's design, which revolutionized the lumber milling business. The new saw had an oscillating motion, allowing the teeth of the machine's parallel saw blades to cut evenly. In addition, the saw's speed was increased and thinner-gauge steel blades were used to cut down on waste. The new design's success created a national market for Wickes Bros. And international saw sales enabled the company to survive as Michigan's lumber business slowly dried up. By 1887 there were more than 300 Wickes saws in operation.

In another move towards diversification, Wickes bought equipment from troubled sawmills, reconditioned it, and resold it to mills in other parts of the country. Wickes also expanded its repair and resale business to include all kinds of machinery. As the new business grew, the Wickes brothers noticed industrial boilers were one of the most frequently bought and resold items. After developing the machinery necessary to manufacture new boilers, the Wickes Boiler Company was founded. At this time, two of Henry's sons, Harry and William, took over management of the family's enterprises. Harry headed Wickes Bros. Foundry, and William led the boiler business.

In 1901 the original founders of the burgeoning Wickes empire died: Edward died first and was followed just a month and a day later by older brother Henry. Henry died in Guadalajara, Mexico, where both brothers had traditionally gone to spend their winters. It was on just such a trip to Guadalajara that the third Wickes business, the United States Graphite Company (U.S. Graphite), had been born.

While vacationing in Mexico, Henry and Edward had heard of a huge graphite deposit not far from where they were staying. Upon further exploration, they discovered an enormous workable vein of about 85 percent pure graphite in the desert mountains below La Colorada, Mexico. They passed the information on to Henry's sons, who incorporated U.S. Graphite in 1891. After acquiring an abandoned shed next to a railroad depot back in Saginaw, and having some luck--both the Mexican government and the Southern Pacific Railroad were in the process of building rail lines that permitted easy and inexpensive shipment of the raw graphite back to Michigan--U.S. Graphite began to mine, import, and sell the black powder as paint coloring, a lead substitute for pencils, and an industrial lubricant. At one point, U.S. Graphite supplied the graphite-based lead substitute for at least 90 percent of the world's pencils; it achieved even greater success in the years preceding World War I as the demand for electricity grew. Graphite was the major component in the manufacture of carbon brushes, or contacts, necessary in the operation of electric motors.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Checks Free From Tax

Section 17 of the War Revenue Law exempted Federal, State and all Local Governments from the stamp taxes in "...their ordinary governmental, taxing, or municipal capacity." Thus checks issued by government agencies were not subject to taxation. The untaxed check drawn on the Orphans' Home Fund of the State of Nevada below illustrates this exemption.

State of Nevada Orphans' Home Fund Check
Carson City, Nevada, November 7, 1898

An even better example is this seven-cent check issued by the US Treasury for interest due on an 1898 War Bond. While the taxes imposed by War Revenue Law raised significant funds to help finance the Spanish American War effort, most of the funds that actually paid for the war effort came via $200,000,000 in Treasury War Bonds authorized by Congress at the same time the War Revenue Law was enacted. The bonds were popular with the public even though they only paid 3% interest and the entire subscription sold out in just a few days. Both coupon and registered bonds in values as small as $20 were authorized. Details of the subscription may be found in this contemporary New York Times article.
U.S. Treasury Check A200289
Washington, DC August 1, 1898
for Interest Due on Deposits for Bonds

Thousands of these checks were issued, but as the vast majority were cashed in at the recognized Treasury offices, the only extant examples are UNCASHED checks like this one. Although David Tischler endorsed this one, he apparently never actually cashed it. Interest was to be paid quarterly but as this check is dated August 1, 1898, barely a month after the bond it represents could have been issued, it likely paid for one month's interest on a $20 registered bond. Perhaps Tischler kept it as a souvenir, or simply failed to cash it within the four month redemption period. I've only seen a couple other examples. Can anyone offer an illustation of an actual 1898 War Bond?
Endorsement Detail of Treasury Check A200289
Signed, But Not Cashed

Internal company pay vouchers, if cashed directly at the company's offices by the payee also were exempt from taxation. The Victor Colorado Independence Mine time check shown below illustrates the exemption. Curiously, while $3.00 was earned, only $2.95 was paid with five cents deducted from the payment for some reason. Remains of the Independence Mine may be toured in Victor, Colorado.

$3.00 Independence Mine Time Check September 8, 1900
$2.95 Payment Effected at the Orpha May Mine on the Same Day

Because Arthur Chapman endorsed his $30 Pacific Live Stock Co. monthly pay voucher over to C.W. Madden, thus establishing a third party taxable event, Madden had to affix a 2-cent revenue stamp before he could cash the voucher at the company offices in Burns, Oregon. Note the "This Voucher Must Bear A Two Cent Revenue Stamp If Presented By Any Other Than The Employee Named Herein" notice in the upper left corner of the voucher below.

Undated Pacific Live Stock Co. Pay Voucher

Endorsements on Reverse of Pacific Live Stock Voucher

The bank counter withdrawal receipt below illustrates that if one simply went to the bank and withdrew funds directly from their account they could avoid paying the required two cents bank check tax. If they instead wrote and cashed a check payable to "self", a two cent tax stamp would have been required as checks were taxable, but withdrawal receipts were not.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Railroad Is This?


 OK, clever people.  I've figured out the Arkansas part, but I need help.  What railroad cancelled this stamp in 1898?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bank Checks with Proprietary Stamp Usage

We've reviewed the acceptance and rejection of postage stamps in payment of the two-cent documentary tax on checks in prior posts. Today we'll review the likewise improper use of proprietary tax stamps to pay the documentary tax on checks.

The War Revenue Law provided for two separate sets of stamps; stamps inscribed "DOCUMENTARY" were to be used only on legal documents with details provided in Schedule A of the Tax Act.

Stamps inscribed "PROPRIETARY" were to be used only on proprietary medicines and other items with proprietary formulas as described in Schedule B of the Tax Act.

The two sets of stamps were not to be used interchangeably. Because of the small odd fractional tax rates charged on proprietary items, use of documentary stamps to pay any of the proprietary taxes would have been highly impractical, and I'm not aware of any extant examples of such usages.

However, it is not uncommon to find proprietary tax stamps used on documents. Such usage was not legal, but generally it was condoned. While mis-use of postage stamps often was disallowed because the money for the stamps went to the Post Office Department instead of the Treasury, the use of proprietary stamps on documents was seldom challenged because the fees paid for them did accrue to the Treasury, albeit to an incorrect account.

Most such incorrect usage of the proprietary stamps occurred in the first few months of the tax period, i.e., July, August, and September, 1898. Confusion about the law and the initial inadequate distribution of the proper stamps both led to misusages.

However, to find a check such as the Teutonia National Bank check illustated below, written in 1901, more than two years into the tax period, bearing propietary stamps is unusual, and it is surprising that it was not questioned.
Teutonia National Bank Check
Dayton, Ohio, February 27, 1901
with two RB24 proprietary stamps

If you carefully look at the closeup detail of the two stamps below, it appears that they may have been reused. Looking closely at the area of the "01" in "1901" and the "00" in "15.00" on the bottom stamp one can discern what appears to be evidence of a prior cancellation. Perhaps the stamps were strategically placed so the amount of the check would help cover that prior cancel. I've viewed thousands of checks and never before have seen one placed in the area where the check amount would serve as a partial cancel. That the stamps feel unusually stiff and there are tell-tale signs of gum stains showing through on the reverse further suggests the probability that they were reused.

The person who wrote the check was an independent insurance agent in Dayton and thus would have had ample access to various denominations of documentary issues. But two-cents in 1898 was not an insignificant amount and one could easily be tempted to reuse a couple of lightly cancelled stamps on a check payable to a singing society. The penalty for reusing stamps though, was stiff; a conviction could have brought a fine of up to one thousand dollars and up to five years hard labor! That's a lot to risk to save two cents.

Detail of Possibly Reused Proprietary Stamps

The usage of a single 2-cent proprietary issue on the Arkansas Construction Company check below is much more understandable. It's a July 1, 1898 first day of tax period use and likely it may have been the only stamp available there on that day. Distribution of the tax stamps was uneven all over the country and not all the values were even available for distribution on that day. So even if the bank had wanted to challenge the usage of the proprietary stamp, it may not have had the proper documentary stamps available to do so!

Arkansas Construction Company Check
Kansas City, Missouri July 1, 1898
First Day Usage of 2-cent Proprietary Stamp, RB27

Detail of Arkansas Construction Company Check
Showing July 1, 1898 Handstamp Cancel of A. L. Howe

The September 15, 1898 usage of a 2-cent proprietary on this Brotherhood Wine Company check is also somewhat understandable. They likely would have had a large suppy of the 2-cent proprietaries as there was a two cent tax on bottles of wine exceeding one pint. So for Brotherhood Wine it likely was simply a matter of convenience to just stock 2-cent proprietary stamps rather than both proprietary and documentary issues. I've seen later Brotherhood Wine Co. checks with 2-cent documentaries, so at some point they probably were instructed to use the documentary stamps instead of relying upon the proprietary issues.

Brotherhood Wine Co. Sight Draft
New York City, September 15, 1898

The following Nebraska National Bank Check was submitted by JW Palmer. As he points out it's a bit taddy, but it's also the only example of a challenged proprietary usage on a check I've ever seen. The 2-cent proprietary in the upper left corner was affixed and pen-cancelled by N. R. Sagers on February 2, 1900, the same date as the check. However when O. M. Burrus cashed it on February 7, 1900, Nebraska National required a corrective 2-cent documentary be affixed and it was cancelled by the bank on February 7. Thanks JW, for sharing this nifty item; it 's the perfect piece to cap today's subject.

Nebraska National Bank Check Omaha, Nebraska
written February 2, 1900 (2-cent proprietary)
cashed February 7, 1900 (2-cent documentary)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Fullerton List; Railroad 35, The Chicago & North-Western Railway

This post is part of a continuing series on Richard Fullerton's 1952 Catalog of Railroad Company, Street Railway & Express Company Printed Cancellations on the 1898 U. S. Revenues.

Examples of the cancels, when available, are posted.

RR035:  The Chicago & North-Western Railway

Update, October 29, 2010:  Just added two more types.  The more I deal with the C&NW listing the more frustrated I become.  There needs to be an update to this list, including some reorganization.  I think the major classifications for the C&NW cancels should be yearr dates, then types by dates.  It takes too much work otherwise to classify these things.

Type 1: One line of plain type caps and lower case letters 25mm long; caps 3 1/4 mm high. Line of 16 dashes 22mm long is 6 1/4mm below. Without date. Period after the “N”.


1ct Pale Blue          a. Normal          (2) HH

Type 1 a.(2)
no date, HH

Type 2: Two lines of plain type caps and lower case letters. Caps 3 1/4mm high. RR initials 25mm long; line of 16 dashes 22mm long is 6 1/4mm below. Dates are 2 1/4mm high; 189 is 4.5mm long, 1899 is 6mm long. RR initials and date are 8mm apart. Figure 1 of date is serifed. Period after the “N.”

1ct Pale Blue       a. Dated 189            (1) roulette
                           b. Dated 1899          (1) roulette
                                                            (2) HH


Type 2 b(1)


Type 3: One line of plain type caps and lower case letters 22.5mm long caps 3 1/4mm high. Line of 16 dashes 22mm long is 6.5mm below. Without date. No period after the “N”.

1ct Pale Blue         a. Normal            (2) HH

Type 3a.(2) 
Scan from Frank Sente

Type 4:  Two lines of plain type caps and lower case letters.  Caps 3 1/3mm high.  RR initials 22mm long; line of 16 dashes 22mm long is 6.5mm below.  Dates are 2mm high; 189 is 4.3mm long, 1899 is 6mm long.  RR initials and date are 8.2mm apart.  Figure "1" of date is serifed.  No period after the "N".

1ct Pale Blue         a.  Date 189        (1)  roulette (not verified)
                             b.  Dated 1899    (1)  roulette
                                                        (2)  HH
                            bw. double           (1)  roulette

Type 4b(1)
Scan from Frank Sente

Type 5:  Two lines of plain type caps and lower case letters.  Caps 3 1/4 mm high.  RR iniitials 22.5mm long; line of 16 dashes 22mm long is 6.3mm below.  Dates are 2mm high; 1900 is 6.75mm long. 1901 is 5.75mm long, and 1902 is 6.5mm long.  RR initials and date are 8 1/4mm apart.  Figure "1" of date is without serifs.  No period after "N". 

1ct Pale Blue        a.  Dated 1900     (1)   roulette
                                                        (2)   HH

                            as.  Varieties         (2)  14th dash from left missing,  HH
                             b.  Dated 1901    (2)   HH
                             c.  Dated 1902    (2)   HH


Type 5 a.(1)
1900 roulette



Type 5 a.(2)
1900 HH


Type 5 b.(2)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Len McMaster's One-Frame R153 and R154 Exhibit from BALPEX

I am happy to present Len McMaster's R154 exhibit from this year's BALPEX.  Len received a Vermeil for this exhibit. 

The images are oversized so that they are all readable, though they do reach into the next column on the right. 
















Cancel for September 25: Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company

C.  M.  L.  I.  CO.
SEP
25
1900
HARTFORD, CONN.

MassMutual absorbed CMLICo in 1995, creating the fifth largest mutual life insurance company in the United States. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cancel for September 24: Lazard Freres Handstamp and Perf Initials

L. F.
SEP  24  '01
N. Y.
with perf initials L. F.

L. F.
SEP 24 '01
N. Y.
with inverted perf initials L. F.

Cancelled on the same day if not on the same document, two stamps used by Lazard Freres on September 24 with handstamp cancels and perforated initials.

Lazard is and was a financial services firm and these stamps likely paid the taxes on a securities transaction.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Fullerton List: Railroad 30, The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway

This post is part of a continuing series on Richard Fullerton's 1952 Catalog of Railroad Company, Street Railway, & Express Company Printed Cancellations on the 1898 U. S. Revenues:


RR030:  The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
 
Fullerton lists a single type for this cancel, on 3 different documentary values (1c, 2c, and 10c), with 6 collectable varieties:
 
Type 1: One line of plain type caps and lower case letters 21mm long.  Caps 3mm high.  Normally with vertical rectangular periods.  Undated.
 
1ct Pale Blue      a.   Normal    (1)  roulette
                                                (2) HH
 
                          as.  Varieties   (1) plate break in "&", roulette
 
 
Type 1, 1ct a.(2)
normal, hyphen hole
Note late 1902 usage
 
 
2ct Carmine Rose     a.  Normal   (1)  roulette
                                                    (2)  HH
 
 
Type 1, 2ct a.(1)
normal, roulette
note late date for roulette usage


Type 1, 2ct a.(2)
normal, hyphenhole



10ct Dark Brown     a.  Normal   (2)  HH
 
No example of this cancel on the 10c documentary available

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Checks Taxed At The Bank

The War Revenue Law required all checks processed on or after July 1, 1898 to be taxed 2-cents. The law didn't specify exactly what party should pay the tax, but if a document was left untaxed, BOTH parties were liable for a penalty. Usually, the owing party in a transaction paid the tax. So generally the person or firm drafting a payment paid the tax, however, as the checks shown below illustrate, that didn't always happen.

Although written on June 17, 1898, two weeks prior to the tax period effective date of July 1, 1898, this First National Bank, Columbus, Indiana check of Williams and Collins wasn't cashed until July 21. At that time, the Drovers' & Mechanics' National Bank of Baltimore required a 2-cent tax stamp be affixed as any check processed on or after July 1 was liable for the tax. The stamp wasn't dated and initialled as required, but the purple period bar cancel defacing the stamp matches the period bar ornamentation at the top of the Drovers' and Mechanics' endorsement on the back of the check, shows that the stamp was added when presented there for payment.

First National Bank, Columbus, Indiana
Williams & Collins Check, June 17, 1898
2 weeks prior to tax period

detail of endorsement on Williams & Collins check
with period bar ornamentation at top

Mary L. Hotchkin either didn't have a stamp available, or forgot to affix one to this October 4, 1898 Agricultural National Bank check written to W. R. Morton. Morton wisely cashed the check at the same bank, for in this instance the bank simply added the 2-cents due for the tax to the amount of the check and charged it against Hotchkin's account.
Agricultural National Bank, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Mary L. Hotchkin Check, October 4, 1898


Detail Images of Hotchkin Check showing
stamp added and canceled by bank at left, and
"stamp .02" added to check amount at right

Most likely Edward A. Mitchell wasn't aware of the tax, or simply didn't have the obligatory tax stamps when he wrote this check on the Essex National Bank of Haverhill on July 2, 1898, the second day of the tax period. That the stamp was initialled W.J.H. and dated July 9, indicates the payee, Willard J. Heale, instead paid the 2-cents tax when he presented the check for payment on that day.
Essex National Bank of Haverhill, Massachusetts
Edward A. Mitchell Check, July 2, 1898
second day of tax period


Detail of Mitchell Check
stamp initialed and dated July 9
by Willard J. Heale, the payee