Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cancel for July 1: 111 Year Anniversary of the First Day of Use of the 1898 Series

The first day of use of the 1898 series of revenue stamps was July 1, 1898, 111 years ago today. After the Battleship "Maine" was destroyed by an explosion in a Cuban harbor on February 15, 1898, President McKinley delcared war on Spain on April 25 and subsequently approved the War Revenue Law of 1898 on June 13. The Act of Congress would become effective on July 1, 1898. The handstamped 2 cent documentary immediately below was cancelled by the Michigan Central Railroad and was certainly used to pay the new tax on July 1 1898. The printed cancels on the proprietary stamps that follow were made in preparation for the first day of use, with use on that day possible but not a certainty.

Many companies understood that the law required only that the stamps be cancelled with company identification and a year date, so many proprietary printed cancels do not include the month and day, precluding a July 1, 1898 cancel for many companies.

Wayne Youngblood, Secretary of the American Philatelic Society, wrote a feature piece in the June 2009 American Philatelist on First Day Bullseye cancels. In his article he highlights first day "bullseyes" on battleship revenue stamps and calls them some of the earliest examples of such cancels, in which the cancel includes a clean and all inclusive strike of the date and cancel location or cancellor of the stamp. Two images of battleships cancelled this way include the two cent battleship and a one and one quarter cent proprietary with a Dr. D. Jayne and Son cancel. There are examples of first day bullseyes from these companies in this post.

Below are 14 examples of first day battleship bullseyes, proprietary and documentary.



Michigan Central Railroad handstamp cancel. The Michigan Central was controlled by Cornelius Vanderbilt.


Antikamnia pharmaceutical company handstamp cancel. Antikamnia is more famous for its use of printed cancels. Above is an example of a first day, July 1 handstamp. Antikamnia issued, along with several other St. Louis pharmaceutical companies, provisional, self printed stamps for use early in the tax period before they could acquire adequate quantities of the battleship stamps. This handstamp was used to stamp some of the provisional stamps in addition to the proprietary battleship stamps. It is likely that this stamp was used after July 1.


T.B. Dunn Company, the maker of Sen-Sen Gum, one of the most popular chewing gum products of the time. Thomas B. Dunn the businessman would become a 5 term Republican Congressman from New York, beginning in 1913.



The Centaur Company and Charles Fletcher's signature. My mother gave me some noxious concoction called Fletcher's Castoria when I was a small child in the 1960s. This is one of the fancier printed cancels on the proprietary revenues.


K&M Co stands for Keasby and Mattison Company, which produced patent medicines. However, by the time of the cancellation of this stamp, the company was heavily into the production of asbestos and asbestos products. The firm started out as a pharmaceutical firm but became involved in asbestos production after Dr. Richard Mattison discovered that milk of magnesia would cling to hot pipes. He combined asbestos with the stomach settler and guided the Ambler, Pennsylvania based business into the production of asbestos products. The name Keasby and Mattison is associated with extensive asbestos liability legal actions.

Printed cancel for the company McKesson and Robbins, which would become embroiled in one of the worst corporate scandals in US history in 1938 after the company was taken over by a professional bootlegger under an assumed name. These days though arguably from Enron to Madoff our time has bested the M&R scandal. McKesson is today one of the largest health care companies in the world.



Dr. D. Jayne and Son printed cancel. Dr. Jayne and his sons made a variety of noxious patent medicines.



McKesson and Robbins cancel.


Dr. D. Jayne and Sons block of nine. The six stamps on the right are of a single font different from the three stamps on the left.

McKesson and Robbins cancel.


Dr. D. Jayne and Sons cancels of two different fonts.



Sen-Sen gum printed cancel from July 1 1898. TB Dunn initials at the bottom. Many of the 2 and 4 cent proprietaries were used to pay the tax on chewing gum.


D. Jayne and son pair with two type of fonts.

McKesson and Robbins.

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