Charles W. Drew & Company was in the fire insurance business in Chicago. From the December, 1895 publication "Portraits and Biographies of the Fire Underwriters of the City of Chicago:"
"Charels Wilson Drew was born in Meridian, Cayuga County, New York, on the 19th of April, 1835. He lived on a farm until he was fifteen years of age, receiving his education in the Common Schools and Academy. He commenced his business career as clerk in the book store of John Ivison, at Auburn, New York. In 1854, he went overland to California, returning home, via the Isthmus in 1859. After two years in business, he joined the army in 1861, where he remained until the close of the war, when he removed to Chicago and entered the insurance business. Mr. Drew married Miss Anna S. Fleetwood in 1867; they have one daughter. He is a member of the Calumet, Washington Park, and Union League Clubs.
The power of the Google search engine, and recent work to digitize old, out of copyright books and newspapers has revolutionized the work of revenue stamp cancel collectors. It has become a simple and at home activity to determine the corporate or individual background of many cancels that can found on the documentary 1898s. The Charles Drew cancel above required no more than the use of the term Charles W. Drew & Co. in quotes in a Google search.
While extensive work has been done by the philatelists Mustacich and Giacomelli in their book the Battleship Desk Reference (BDR), the BDR is a tool for determining the name of a firm from its initials on the proprietary series of stamps. Even from that point using the BDR, once the corporate name has been determined, an entire world can be opened up by entering the name of the proprietary article firm in a Google search.
From my experience the world of the internet and Google is even more remarkable than the power of search engines and the data behind them. I am currently sitting on a couch on a porch of a villa by the Indian Ocean. I am in Diani, a beach area south of the Kenyan port of Mombassa. The sun is shining, there is a (now quiet) bar next door called the Forty Thieves, and I am sipping coffee while I wait for my wife and kids to wake up for another day on the beautiful beach. All the while I am able to take a few minutes a day to blog 1898s with the power of an enormous data base and a search capability courtesy of my laptop, and a broadband internet connection courtesy of Safaricom corporation, a Kenyan cellphone company.
The sleepy backwater of 1898 revenues, the hobby of a few, comes alive with this set of tools that include the hardware connection to the web, the immense amount of scanned and saved data on the web, and the power of a sophisticated search engine. All this and I am physically very far from any of the assests needed to conduct traditional philately and research. I don't even have my stamps with me, only scanned images. The potential world of philately is changing. The possibilities are enormous; most are left unexploited. This blog is a small attempt by an amateur philatelist to explore the space.
Sometimes the luck of finding another stamp with a similar cancel is the key to solving the identity of the cancel. Here is one of those cases. The cancel above could be fully deciphered with the help of the partial cancel below. J. V. Hinchman was a leading citizen of Glenwood Iowa and ran a drugstore before becoming a banker. But only knowing the town name of Glenwood led me to discover the origin of this cancel. I found these cancels in two completely different lots of stamps, with the stamp above the first stamp in my possession. The stamp below led me to the town of Glenwood and Mr. Hinchman's business address. A short biography of Mr. Hinchman is below.
From the Progressive Men of Iowa:
Hinchman, Joseph V.,the leading banker of Glenwood, Mills county, was born May 13, 1831, in Rush
County, Ind. He comes of English ancestry on his father's side and English and Irish on his mother's side. The father was James Hinchman, born in Monroe county, Va., in 1800, and settled in Rush County, Ind., in 1822, where he lived until his death, in August, 1882. He was a farmer, who was successful in life, and with his wife brought up thirteen children–ten boys and three girls. His wife was Nancy Nickel, born in 1804 and died March 18, 1897, aged 92 years and 6 months. She had lived and kept house on the same farm seventy-four years. At a family reunion, held at the old family homestead, September 4, 1880, the parents and children were all present, the children all being heads of families; sixty-seven children and grandchildren were present, and neighbors and friends to the number of 400.
Joseph V. Hinchman lived on the farm until he was 21 years old, and received a common school education. He had no professional or business training until he went into business for himself. Teaching school at $20 a month, and boarding himself, was his first employment after leaving the farm. He came to Glenwood October 13, 1854, and opened the first drug store in the county, a business which he carried on for twenty-five years, and sold out in 1879. This was his first business venture, and it was started at a time when $1.50 to $2 a day was a very satisfactory profit for the store. In 1869 he started a private bank in connection with the store, but sold it out in 1871, and helped organize the Mills County National bank, of which he was that year elected president, an office which he held for ten years. In 1882 he sold his interest in the National bank and established the Bank of J. V. Hinchman in Glenwood, of which he is still the proprietor. Here is a case where success has been achieved by steady, hard work and economy, and without any element of speculation. He started with a capital of $1,500, a portion of which was used in entering land in Polk and Mills counties, the remainder employed in his drug store. This has grown until now Mr. Hinchman is rated at $300,000 above all debts. He never mortgaged a piece of property in his life. While accumulating this fortune he has been generous and has, within the past six years, given away to various churches and colleges $30,000; $25000 to Des Moines college–the Baptist institution. Mr. Hinchman's has been a purely business life. He has devoted himself with remarkable singleness of purpose to achieving success in a financial way, and by honest
dealing, promptness in meeting obligations, economy and industry, and attention to details, small as well as large, he has achieved great success. Like many other strong, successful men, he has no partners and no low-priced clerks or employes. He was a member of the whig party, and has always been a republican. As his generous gift indicates, he belongs to the Baptist church, and has for thirty-three years. Mr. Hinchman was married to Nancy L. Fish in Moundsville, Va., September 27, 1859. They have had only one child, who died in infancy. Mrs. Hinchman was born November 13, 1833, and is still living.
A. Breslauer was a distiller and spirits company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that operated from 1883 to 1918. I wonder whether the prohibition movement put it out of business, though prohibition wouldn't hit at the national level for another 2 years after Breslauer shut down. The German Lutherans of Wisconsin were generally a "pro-wet"/non-prohibition force.
A. Breslauer produced and distributed a full line of beverages that included the following brand names: "Cheddington", "Connet", "Florida Bitters", "Graham Rye", "Henry Van Eerden Gin", "Kilbourn", "La Belle", "Old Chesly", "Old Hickory", "Palm", "Standard Club", "Topcliffe Gin", and "Waldorf Club."
Note the two Maltese crosses in the handstamp design
The Murphy Varnish Company was headquartered in Newark, N.J., and had it principle manufacturing plant in Newark. The company must have kept a business office in New York which required this handstamp.
Franklin Murphy, the founder of Murphy Varnish, became the 31st governor of New Jersey from 1902 to 1904.
Today, the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific is a wholly owned subsidiary of Norfolk Southern and is operated by Norfolk Southern railroad as a part of its Central Division.
The original construction of the railway was spurred by a shift of Ohio River shipping to rail. At the time Ohio River ship traffic was an important economic engine in Cincinnati. City leaders feared losing further shipping traffic and worked to develop railroad infrastructure for the city. The City of Cincinnati actually built the railway after city voters approved $10 million in municipal bonds in 1869 to begin construction.
No positive ID for AG Gibson yet. There was a Canadian firm that did railway construction with the name AG Gibson Railway and Manufacturing Company located in eastern Canada. Buffalo was a major hub for railroads, especially the New York Central.
In an 1896 edition of the newspaper the Ambler Gazette there are several mentions of the J.S. Angeny pharmacy selling various patent medicines of the era including Chamberlain's cough medicine and H. E. Bucklin's New Life Pills, companies that used large quantities of battleship proprietaries and used printed cancellations.
H. E. B. & CO.
JULY 1 1898
H. E. Bucklin printed cancel on eighth cent proprietary. Cancel of July 1, 1898 marks the first day the tax was in effect.
Herbert Bucklin’s Chicago-based company produced four patent medicines including:
1. Dr. King's New Discovery for Consumption, Coughs and Colds
2. Bucklin's Arnica Salve
3. Electric Bitters
4. Dr. King's New Life Pills.
And the company spent widely in the United States to advertise these products, which might explain the mention in Joseph Angeny's advertising in the Ambler Gazette. Much more on Bucklin and his products will come later when company's printed cancels are examined in greater detail on this site.
Much more common as a cancel on the proprietary series of stamps, this Johnson and Johnson date stamp was used on this 2 cent documentary. Firms in the proprietary medicine business were regularly hit with both proprietary and documentary stamp taxes. Johnson and Johnson used large numbers of handstamped proprietary battleships yet they also had their own private die made:
Johnson and Johsnon produced a private die proprietary stamp based on the basic design of the battleship revenue stamp. More regarding Johnson and Johnson 1898s at rdhinstl's site (the private die image above is from that site). On that site you'll see a CDS used on a proprietary stamp that is smilar to that used on the 2 cent documentary above.
Robert Wood Johnson, founder of Johnson and Johnson
His company is a corporate and health products icon today.
The list of detailed hits is below. Most of the hits were what I expected to see: dealers in the trade and the pages of Professional Stamp Experts. It is clear there are many trying to make a living off of graded stamps. The ASDA page is merely a listing page for dealers that trade in graded stamps.
But I found a page I had not seen before. Of the two collector sites that came up, one was this blog you are reading right now. The other was the site of the Virtual Stamp Club. And back in July 2007, Ken Lawrence posted a particularly devastating criticism of stamp grading on this site, leading with a statement that grading is bad for the hobby. It helps to know that such an established and respected professional has this opinion, though it is clear that it hasn't stopped grading in the intervening two and a half years. I've often wondered whether there were others out there with similar issues. As a busy professional living outside the United States, I don't and have never had any real opportunity to attend stamp shows or stamp meetings to talk about my hobby. The internet is my lifeline to the stamp world and it is great to find some writing that confirms my own opinions. If you have not read his piece, you should.
Where does one start in a discussion of ridiculous prices and graded stamps? There are some absurd situations, like that with the used and in-a-slab C19 below. While the whole industry is overpriced, the stamp below is special:
Graded Stamp multiple over catalog: 2300 times VF catolog value
A common stamp that I might find in my grandpa's old shoe box is in a plastic case/slab with a PSE sticker. The cancel is uninteresting, uncentered, and provides no information. The stamp trades at VF for no more than a price that might allow a dealer to recover costs, and even then that is doubtful. The truth here is that the intrinsic value of the plastic slab is nearly greater than the stamp inside. Yes, yes, we have what salespeople in the business call a condition rarity. Well this sort of condition traded for years before the advent of PSE and whoever else has jumped on the professional grading bandwagon. Nearly 70 years of professional dealer and collector judgment would have never valued the stamp at more than a two digit multiple over its listed Scott Catalog value. Indeed, most dealers would have sold it for the catalog price. Yet here we have a stamp that Mr. Connolly will sell you for two thousand three hundred times the VF catalog price. Maybe you should feel guilty the price is so low and offer him more. Maybe three thousand times?
The stamp market last experienced a value bubble in the mid to late 1970s, during a period of stagflation and poor stock market returns. The broader collectibles market also rallied during those years. But an almost democratic, across-the-board rally developed in stamps, very different than today's graded stamp market bubble, which dismisses most stamps as not grade worthy. Somewhere in storage I have a pile of old Brookman price lists starting in 1976. I don't know if they do now but then they came out semi-annually. During that period price changes were staggering. The staggering part wasn't so much the domain of certain classics. It was the more common stamps that amazed. I casually tracked the 6 cent Botanical Congress plate block. I can't recall, but by 1980 it was priced by Brookman at somewhere near $20. The Scott value today is $1.75.
There was even action in contemporary stamps. The 1976 50 state flag issue was being purchased in bulk by dealers for nearly two times face in the immediate years following its issue. I remember full page ads on Linn's back page by companies looking to buy the sheets. Some of them may be the ones trying to sell you graded stamps today. Across the board stamps went up, and the bull market had an impact on what the stamp trade today would call "postage" even more than it had on rare classics.
But then the market collapsed. Things went back to earth. By the early 80s, and as inflation subsided, the speculative and irrationally exuberant money ran out of the stamp market. The VF $2.00 MNH Prexie I bought for $55.00 around 1980 now is valued by Scott at $17.50. Players in the broad market lost a ton in the value of their bulk inventories. And the hopes were dashed of retirees and soon-to-be retirees across America that had purchased sheets of 3, 4, 5, and 6 cent commemoratives for years and saved them for their nest eggs. Most of those sheets are postage now.
Its hard to know when but this scenario will play out with a stamp like that above. Once the crash hits maybe you can use the plastic case as a coaster or something.
Christopher West/Elliot Perry's book on the revenue stamps of the United States has a short chapter at the end of the book and the section on 1898 revenue stamps for "various items." One of those items is a section on part roulettes. Here is an excerpt, with my own illustrations (book text in italics):
Part Roulettes. -- A number of the documentaries and proprietaries exist rouletted vertically, but not horizontally, or vice versa, and at least one stamp -- the 2c documentary -- is known imperforate, that is, without any horizontal or vertical rouletting. The Boston Book also mentions the 10c documentary imperf, but this value is not now so catalogued. The stamps listed as existing rouletted horizontally only are: 3/8 and 2c proprietary and $1 green, $3 brown and $10 black documentary.
The 3/8c proprietary is not rare, nor particularly scarce, part rouletted. Blocks are frequently seen and at least one full sheet is in existence. The 2c proprietary part rouletted was offered for sale in May, 1901, the owner stating only 120 pairs existed. The would indicate that not less that two sheets escaped the vertical roulette...
The "not rare" 3/8c proprietary part roulette. Deep orange in color
The "not rare" 3/8c proprietary part roulette. This pair is burnt orange in color. Color differences in orange stamps are often due to sulfurization, which tends to turn some of the 1/2 cent orange documentary and 3/8 cent proprietary stamps darker, if not brown. If the colors are true, however, differing colors in the pairs would indicate the part roulette error occured on more than one press run.
Margin copy of the 2c proprietary part roulette. I have two pairs of this stamp in this condition and the pairs are not that expensive or scarce. There are certainly more copies than the 120 pairs reported by Perry.
The stamps listed as existing rouletted vertically only are: 1/4c, 5/8c, 1c, 2 1/2c, 5c proprietary and 1/2c gray, 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c, 10c, $1 green documentary. The Boston Book mentions also the 1/8c and 1 1/4c proprietary, but the existence of the latter stamp part rouletted could not be verified. As the 1/8c is not now so catalogued, quite likely it also lacks proper verification. The dealer who offered the 2c proprietary "imroulette" vertically, also offered the 2c proprietary, rouletted vertically only, in January, 1901, and stated that the entire lot was two sheets. This would be 200, 216, or 232 stamps, but others may have been found and the stamp is not very scarce today. The 5/8c part roulette, is usually found in vertical paris cancelled "Maltine." Only a few pairs and strips are known. The 1/4c, 1c and 5c are seldom seen.
Part roulette 5/8c proprietary block of 4 with Maltine logo handstamp cancel. While Perry indicated this part roulette to be scarce at the time of his writing, the current catalog value for a pair, $85, would indicate that more pairs have come to light in the past 90 years.
5/8c proprietary part roulette pair with Malitine handstamp in roman. Perry/West doesn't indicate the the type of Maltine handstamp cancel that was familiar to him.
5/8c proprietary part roulette horizontal pair. Unreported by Elliot Perry.
1 1/4c proprietary part roulette horizontal pair. There is rouletting to the left and right of the pair but not between the two stamps. There is no evidence of blind roulettes. This type of partial roulette is rare among all battleships. Virtually all cases of part roulettes involve non-rouletting on the vertical or horizontal of the entire sheet. From Tolman's collection of part roulettes. Unreported by Elliot Perry and unlisted in Scott.
2 1/2c proprietary part roulette vert guideline block of 4. Image of this block can be found in the Joyce and Tolman auction catalogs.
5c proprietary part roulette pair. Reported by Elliot Perry as "seldom seen".
The 1c, 2c, and 10c documentary part rouletted are fairly common, the 1/2c less so, and the 4c and 5c quite rare. Of the 4c, only two blocks, both unused, which came from the same sheet, are on record. The 5c was reported from Philadelphia in 1898, and some were also used in Chicago in October of that year.
2c documentary pair part roulette
Examples of 1c and 10c part roulettes can be found in previous posts.
Two days ago this book was first mentioned here as an essential reference for all US Scott-listed revenue collectors. Here is a small sample of the research and work in this book, accompanied by images of stamps I provide. The original book only has black and white images of some of the stamps referred to in the text.
Chapter XXXVIII of the book concerns the initial 1898 revenues, the surcharged stamps.
R154 Surchaged in Roman Capitals
Cancelled by Wells Fargo
The 1c green postage stamp was first surchaged I.R. in block capitals [R153] 6 1/2 mm. high and 314,890 were issued, all in June, 1898. After the overprinting had been going on for two days and one night [sic] the surcharge was changed to Roman capitals 9 mm. high [as above]. Both surcharges are in red and the latter one occurs inverted.
The 2c carmine postage stamp was surchaged only with 9mm. Roman type and occurs both normal and inverted. The surcharge is dark blue.
On both the 1c and 2c with the larger surcharge a small period after the "I" occurs four times on each pane of 100 stamps. It is always the 41st, 46th, 91st, and 96th stamp on the pane--that is, the first stamp in the bottom row of each quarter pane. It is thought that this is a secret or control mark placed there intentionally.
Small period after the I
The Boston Book states that 63,300,000 of the 1c and 62,000,000 of the 2c, all with the 9 mm. surcharge, were issued, all in June, 1898. The Bureau reports differ somewhat from these figures, giving the total of 1c stamps with both surcharges delivered up to June 30, 1898 as 42,000,000 and 20,800,000 after June 30, 1898, or 62,800,000 of the 1c in all. Their record of the surcharged 2c stamps delivered is 32,000,000 up to June 30, 1898, and 23,600,000 thereafter, which totals to 61,600,000. Obviously the Internal Revenue office did not deliver more surcharged stamps than were printed and delivered to them by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
This is an essential reference for the collector of US Scott-listed revenue material and for the collector of 1898s. It is something of a complement for a volume commonly called The Boston Book, which I will write about in a future post.
Both the name Christopher West and the publishing date are deceiving. Christopher West was a pen name for Elliot Perry. And the writing was all done in the early part of the 20th century. Bill Castenholz, in his preface for the book, tells the story of the appearance of this material in Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News from 1916 to 1918 which was in turn put together by Mekeel's in book form. Castenholz then saved the book for posterity and reprinted the book in hard back form in the 1970s. Reasonably inexpensive new copies can be purchased from Eric Jackson's website. For sale on the same site are copies of the original Mekeel's bound version.
More on the Christopher West book in the next few days.
Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News
August 25, 1898
The August 25, 1898 edition of Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News, with a lead article projecting a "philatelic boom" with the conclusion of the Spanish-American war. Stamp journalism in Mekeel's would include the ground-breaking work of Elliot Perry nearly 20 years after this edition was published.
Mekeel's is a great source of information on trends and information regarding the 1898s, and not just because of its articles. Notice the "WAR REVENUES" advert in the upper left corner. That advert follows:
A few items of note in this ad:
1. Perry noted in his aricles for Mekeel's and the book shown above that the 1/2 cent gray appeared "soon" after the issue of the documentary battleship set, but he gave no date or range for the gray stamp's appearance. The ad above was typeset probably 7 1/2 weeks after the debut of the series and Morgenthau & Co. was already advertising for sale the gray stamp, here called "slate". So we know that soon was prior to the end of August.
2. The orange documentary was already trading at a substantial premium to the gray, less than two months after the debut of the set. The mark-up from 1/2 cent to 8 cents is huge.
3. By the 7th week of use there was already a second shade of the 1 1/4 cent proprietary.
Copies of articles from Mekeels are indexed in a bibliography published by the American Revenue Association called Riley's Fiscal Philatelic Handbook. A copy of Riley's and a membership in the American Philatelic Research Library would enable you to refer to and request virtually any revenue-related item in almost all stamp-related publications going back more than 100 years.
The Duroy and Haines Company was founded in 1888 by Martial Duroy and E.J. Haines in Sandusky, Ohio. The Duroy and Haines Wines Cellars operated on Columbus Avenues in Sandusky for 30 years and made wine, champagne, and grape juice.
Cudahy Brothers was one of the largest meat packing firms in the United States at the time of this cancel. The Cudahy's learned the trade through the Plankinton and Armour meat packing plant in the Menonomee River Valley in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The plant was transferred to Patrick Cudahy and his brother in 1888 and was renamed Cudahy Brothers.
This statue of Patrick Cudahy can be found in Sheridan Park in Cudahy, Wisconsin near Milwaukee.
10 days ago in this post I surveyed some of the 1898 series of revenue stamps included in the Whitpain Sale conducted by Robert Siegel Auction Galleries the past two days. The results weren't too surprising either to the down or upside, though it did seem that every auction lot that I had an interest in went for far more than the range established by Siegel pre-auction.
For example, the final lot, lot #895, the Morton Dean Joyce Dr. Kilmer's collection, was listed between $10K-$15K. Closing price as currently listed is $21,000. Most of the smaller collections, like the many of R154 and R155 went for premiums over their list or towards the higher end of their listing. I am particular interested in the Dr. K material and the study collections of the 1 and 2 cent overprints; all of these stamps and collections went for good prices.
On the other hand, the somewhat imperfect rarities of the sale, the Chapman and Daprix overprints on the 1 cent Trans-Mississippi, went for below their catalog values. The Daprix stamp, one of only three known to exist, sold for less than half of its catalog value. The centering and damage clearly affected the final price for this stamp. We are not in a bull market for this sort of material right now, no matter how rare the stamp is. So the mismatch of the final price of this stamp against material like the Dr. Kilmer collection is interesting, with the premium the Dr. Kilmer collection commanded. There is probably nothing like Joyce's collection, and the provenance is worth a fair premium all on its own.
Its good to see many of the 1898 revenues maintaining their values at auction.
The first oil boom territory in the United States was in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania's Appalachian oil region had many of the tank car builders and repair shops, especially in the industrial cities in NW Pennsylvania. Titusville, Franklin, Warren and Sharon in northwest Pennsylvania were centers for tank car production, dating to the 1870’s. Willburine Oil Works, of Valvoline Oil Company, in Warren, PA, repaired tank cars for Valvoline which handled refined products from Warren and East Butler, PA refineries. Wilburine worked with Allegheny Foundry to build the Allegheny automobile, a pioneer roadster. The roadster's engine was difficult to cool and the project failed.