Sunday, September 25, 2022

Errington & Martin, Stamp Importers

Errington & Martin, Stamp Importers:  the 1898 Revenues Edition!

The battleship revenue stamp above appears to have a fuzzy and illegible handstamp cancel that renders the stamp barely interesting as a collectible item.  However, further inspection changes everything.  Turn the stamp over, and a clear and intriguing "cancel" appears:

- N.E.-

Just a glance makes it clear that this is not a cancel but a backstamp applied by a stamp dealer, likely located in the United Kingdom.  The stamp is nothing pretty, but the backstamp makes an interesting and collectible philatelic item.

London-based Edgar Frank Errington and Benjamin Ernest Marten were late 19th and early 20th century British stamp dealers who specialized in importing foreign stamps.  Their business as a partnership lasted until 1919, when Benjamin Martin took over all operations.  

The firm backstamped stamps from all over the world, and there are many examples still in existence.  For example, this 2 cent Columbian, which shows they published stamp albums in addition to importing the stamps to fill them:



A 2009 Stampboards thread has a very interesting discussion on this subject and many more examples of Errington and Martin backstamps.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Printed Cancels by the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad?

A corresponding collector in Minnesota sent me examples of cancellations, possibly printed, by the Duluth, Missabe, & Iron Range Railroad, a railroad organized to transport iron ore and eventually taconite out of the Minnesota iron range to port facilities on Lake Superior at Duluth, Minnesota.  I was immediately interested in these, as examples of these cancels don't appear in Richard Fullerton's catalog, and the DM&IRR was not a part of any of the families of railroads known to use printed cancels.  

At first glance the cancels on the three stamps collectively make it appear that we could have printed cancels, as the cancels are all roughly in the same place on the stamps.  But with a bit of scrutiny it seemed that the cancels might even be complete fakes.  First, it seems likely they were not printed, as the cancels appear at differing angles on each stamp.  Second, the stamps indicate no sign of legitimate use, with dates or handstamps or normal manuscript cancelling.  Third, the ink has run and blurred across all the stamps.  The AMEX printed cancels show this blurred quality for stamps cancelled with older plates, but there is no evidence anywhere that the DM&IRRR cancelled enough stamps to wear out their cancelling devices.  

It appears to me that the maker of the cancels used a pile of cheap stamps - a 1c stamp, a pencil canceled 2c with a slight tear, and 25c with cut cancels, to add handstamp cancels.

It appears that at best we have philatelic mischief, or at worst fraud, committed sometime after 1937.

A little research showed that the DM&IRR was organized and so named in 1937, 35 years after the 1898 tax period expired.  On July 1, 1937, the Duluth, Missabe and Northern Ry (DM&N) and the Spirit Lake Transfer Railway were merged to form the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway.  There is a reference called “History of the Missabe” published by the Missabe Railroad Historical Society that goes into this merger and the creation of the DM&IRR.

To cross check it, I went to a contemporaneous reference, the Poor’s Manual of Railroads (image below) from 1901, that lists all US Class I, II, III railroads.  There is no DM&IRR in the manual, but there are the Duluth & Iron Range RR, and the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Ry.

The mischief maker didn’t even bother to create fake cancels for a real, existing railroad during the time of the 1898 tax period.  At least we know that the fakes were made after 1937.  But that’s about all.  Whatever the case, these are an interesting philatelic story.  The collector that sent these stamps to me reported that he had seen a stamp with these cancels sold in an auction a few years ago.  While he did not win that auction lot, he did buy examples of these cancels from a collection located in Walnut Grove, Minnesota sometime in the last few years.  Buyer beware!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

New York Stock Brokers: Clarence S. Day Sr. and Jr. and "Life with Father"

Clarence Day Sr. was the head of his eponymous brokerage firm in New York during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where his son, Clarence Jr also briefly worked (and did so during the 1898 tax period).  Clarence Sr. would become the inspiration for one of Broadway's longest running and successful plays, Life with Father, written by Clarence Jr.  But before the book was written that would inspire the play, Sr and Jr conspired to buy and sell stocks, of which one of those transactions is represented by the $10 stamp below:

C. S. D. & CO.

Stamp and cancel identification courtesy of David Thompson.  Stamp shows clear evidence that it was soaked in water to remove it from a document; the square of soluble varnish dissolved in the process and took with it some of the cancel and the $10 overprint.

Clarence S. Day Sr.

Clarence S. Day Jr.

Author and illustrator Clarence Day, best known for his book Life With Father, was born in New York City on November 18, 1874. He graduated from Yale College in 1896, then worked in his father's brokerage house and served briefly in the U. S. Navy. In 1898 he was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. He traveled for some years in search of a cure, then settled in New York, where he became active in the alumni affairs of Yale College and launched his writing career. Day's essays, book reviews, short stories, verses and cartoons appeared regularly during the 1910s-30s in Harper's Magazine, The New Republic, The Metropolitan Magazine, The New York American, and The New Yorker. His first book, This Simian World, was published in 1920. Day achieved his greatest popularity during the 1930s with the publication of Life With Father, a series of comic memoirs of family life. Clarence Day died of pneumonia on December 28, 1935. (From the description of Clarence Day papers, 1796-1993, (bulk dates 1890-1935). (New York Public Library)).

The play was also made into a film:

Thursday, September 15, 2022

New York Stock Brokers: Zimmerman & Forshay

In the membership lists of the New York Stock Exchange from 1898 through 1902, the firm of Zimmerman and Forshay come last, the usual fate of anyone whose name begins with a "Z".  There are few Zs in the lists of firms and members of the NYSE during the 1898 tax period, making cancel identification for Zimmerman and Forshay rather simple.  This is but one of 100s of firms identified as users of the 1898 series revenue stamps.

Over the past few months, David Thompson and I have been working on a comprehensive list of NYSE members that could have used stamps during the 1898 tax period.  There is still much work to do, as each list has 1100 individual members (many fewer firms though) and there are 5 relevant lists to include: 98, 99, 00, 01 and 02.  Conveniently for collectors of 1898 revenues, the membership of the NYSE ran mid-year to mid-year, coinciding with the initial use of the stamps in 1898.  Once the comprehensive list is more complete, we'll publish the document for the use of others.  

Meanwhile, I'll keep posting firms that we've identified along the way, through the use of the NYSE membership lists and King's Views of the New York Stock Exchange.

So far, we've only been able to identify Zimmerman and Forshay by their "Z. & F." cancel.  

Z. & F.

Friday, May 28, 2021

1/8 Cent Proprietary with 50 Cent Beer Stamp Impressions

While there was an 1898 series of beer stamps, the stamps and the taxes they paid were not for the purpose of supporting the war effort, as they accounted to more general revenues for the US Treasury.  However, the Bureau of Engraving and printing was producing both the ongoing series of beer stamps while printing the battleship and other associated war stamps.  In their hurry to produce the new stamps and the ongoing series, they occasionally made a mistake.  This post presents an interesting example of one of those errors.

Frank Sente has supplied a block of the 1/8 cent proprietary that has non-inked vignettes of the REA60 beer stamp visible in the margin.  As a reminder, REA60 looks like this, with an image of Thomas Hart Benson in the center:

Below is a bottom right margin imprint and plate number 9437 block of twenty of RB20 wherein you can faintly see two vignette impressions of the REA60 federal beer stamp in the margin.

A cropped image from the block showing the BEP margin imprint and the lower of the two REA vignette image:

Frank ran the cropped image through a program called RetroReveal to "strenghten" the image of the REA60 vignette.    The vignette is inverted.  At the top you can read ..."rter Barr".. of Quarter Barrel above the recognizable image of Thomas Hart Benson's head with "Fifty Cents" below that. 

Thanks to Frank for sharing this.  If there is this one, there must be others.  Examine your battleships closely!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Industrial Cancels: The General Manifold Company

Back after a month -- been a bit busy with another project.  Lots of material has come in that is worth working through and posting, so we'll see how the next few weeks go.  Today's entry is from David Thompson, who has shared a pair of R187s with a cancel from The General Manifold Company:

O.  D.  BLEAKLEY,  Treas'r.
APR  23  1901                        APR 23  1901

When I first saw this cancel I assumed that the company was involved in the manufacture of engine manifolds.  Seemed like a muscular and needed business during the age of steel and railroads back at the turn of the century.  Turns out that the business produced a form of carbon paper that would allow businesses to make ready copies of its documents.  In particular, the company produced carbon paper products for railroads, and there are feature articles in various railroad publications from the time on the company and its product.  Their business was big enough that they built a large plant in Franklin, Pennsylvania to produce their office supplies:

The General Manifold Company plant, Franklin, PA

A brief description of the company's activity can be found in the 1904 edition of Railway and Locomotive Engineering:

Friday, April 23, 2021

1898 Revenues COVID Edition: GET VACCINATED!!


Breaking news: 04/23/2021, 19:00 EDT -- Pause on the use of J&J vaccine lifted. 

Please get vaccinated!  As the US moves towards herd immunity, vaccines are the key, yet we've now entered the most difficult phase of the process.  Early and ready adopters have been lining up to get vaccinated and creating high demand for the shots.  But we are starting to enter a phase, especially in some areas and states, where demand is starting to flag.  The US needs to get to a place where we have 80% immunity in order to stop the epidemic; the world likely needs to see similar results to stop the pandemic.

Yes, the Jannsen/Johnson&Johnson (J&J) vaccine has been briefly pulled from use due to rare complications.  This is not  a reason to stay away from COVID vaccines, especially the messenger RNA-based Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but also the J&J vaccine which is based on different (and older and more established) technology.

I received the J&J shot 11 days ago.  For four days I experienced mild flu like symptoms, which are not unusual and not considered a problem.  But I now feel totally fine.  But more importantly I'm protected from acute COVID.  The rest of my family is all getting the Pfizer vaccine, and they are currently between doses 1 and 2.  Everybody is well and healthy.

Meanwhile, those reticent or resistant to getting the vaccine will help the virus continue to spread, forcing us to achieve herd immunity the slow, deadly, and old fashioned way: infection, replication, retransmission with acute morbidities and mortality.  

BTW: Today is the one year anniversary of the call by our President to test the injecting of disinfectants.  Please don't try this.  GET THE VACCINE.  And skip the chloroquine.  I took the stuff for two years in the 80's as a malaria prophylaxis in West Africa.  It tastes terrible and gives you bad dreams.  Never mind that it has no effect on COVID.  Johnson & Johnson hasn't been around for over 120 years because it simply has ideas or thoughts.  I'm collecting their cancels from 1898 at the same time I'm getting their vaccine 123 years later.  Trust the scientists, not the charlatans.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Dominion Line


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

C. Bishop Grain Company


Buchanan, Mich.

The C. Bishop Grain Company had a banner year in 1898, as reported by their hometown newspaper, the Buchanan Record in Buchanan, Michigan.  

Buchanan Record, June 16, 1898

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Wallace Supply Company's Rubber Stamp Flag Cancel

Yesterday, David Thompson found an interesting item on Ebay for the canceling of battleship revenue stamps.  The Wallace Supply Company of Chicago produced rubber stamp cancels in the form of a flag with the necessary identifying information to legally cancel revenue stamps.  The company promoted the rubber stamps through postcards (and perhaps other means as well), as the item in question is a postcard sent to the Exchange Bank in Ackley, Iowa.  

W. S. Co.
JUL  12  1898

Inset from the upper left corner of the postcard.

I looked through a part of my collection to see if I could find an example and one showed up within  minutes of searching.  

M.  &  S.
MAR  25  1901

This is an interesting little piece of 1898 revenues history, tucked away for sale under advertising postcards on Ebay, unlikely to be found by most 1898 collectors.  It is for sale for $50.  

Friday, April 9, 2021

New York Stock Brokers and Bankers: Muller, Schall & Company

New York.

R172p block of six
Removed from a bill of exchange fragment

New York.

New York

Bill of exchange document fragment

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

New York Stock Brokers: William Salomon & Company

William Salomon was born in Mobile, Alabama before the Civil War.  He found his way to New York where he would eventually establish a brokerage house with one of Wall Street's best known names.  He began in the brokerage business with Speyer & Company, but would open his own shop in early 1902.


Document fragment for taxes of $2.44.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company


The Rock Island Line was in operation from 1852 to 1980 and ran west and south west from Chicago.  For many years it was a US Class I railroad, but one of the weaker roads.  Its prospects might have been the brightest at the time of the cancel below:

C. R. I. & P. RY. CO.

A check made out the the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to pay for forwarding freight charges, presumably for cargo heading east of Chicago.

Rock Island route map

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Railroad and The Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company

The Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Railroad was part of the New York Central's western division and would become totally absorbed by the NYC in a few years after the cancel of the stamp below.  The II&I ran through territory experiencing rapid economic growth and would profit from freight and passenger traffic in the region.  

THE I. I. & I. R. R. CO.

IND.  ILL.  &  IA. R. R.
APR  4  1902

The 2 cent documentary above almost certainly was removed from a check.  The cancel immediately above comes from the bill of lading below from the Studebaker Company which would become one of the United States most significant car makers in the early 20th century.  The BOL appears to be a document to send Studebaker vehicles to Roswell, New Mexico, the home of Area 51.  At the time, Studebaker's vehicle product was an electric car.  

Studebaker had been a coach and wagon builder in the 1800s.  But in 1902 they began to make electric cars, making it possible that this BOL for 31,000 lbs of freight (only 1c tax for 31,000 lbs?) could be for electric cars.  Most of the carriage for the trip to New Mexico was completed by the Atcheson, Topeka & Santa Fe.

The association here between Roswell and Area 51, space aliens, electric cars from 120 years ago, Tesla, Elon Musk, and Space X would have made a great April Fools post.  No such creativity this year!

Meanwhile, these cancels would be great additions to the work started by Tolman and continued by Bob Mustacich on his site to inventory RR cancels on battleships.