Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tracking 1898 Values: 1/4 Cent Proprietary Battleship

The lowly quarter cent proprietary, common and cheap.  Unused copies sell for no more than a dealer would charge to recover his costs and maybe, just maybe, make a cent or two of profit.  If you are accustomed to collecting postage stamps of the 1898 era and you stumble across the valuations of the common battleships, you are likely to be shocked, as even the most common postage stamps of the era sell for far more than just a few pennies.  But supply and demand works in favor for the collector of battleship revenues.  Lots of stamps, and fewer collectors than for their postage cousins.  So while the plate blocks shown below do command a decent premium, there are plenty of stamps available to the revenue collector among these issues.

And for the quarter cent value of the proprietary series, there is lots to collect.  As you can see from the stamps below, the range of browns on this stamp varies dramatically.  The Scott catalog lists 5 different browns for this stamp: brown, red brown, yellow brown, orange brown, and bister.  In a future post I will try to match these color names to examples.  See if you can find these different varieties among the stamps below.

As with all the proprietary battleships, prices for the used versions of these stamps can vary dramatically based on the cancel applied to the stamp.  Printed, typed, and handstamped cancels from certain firms can command substantial premiums over the common versions of this stamp.  Examples of some of these more valuable cancels will be illustrated in a post in the next couple of days.

RB21 1/4 cent roulette proprietary single unused
2010 Scott Value: 20 cents

RB21p 1/4 cent hyphen hole proprietary single unused
2010 Scott Value:   20 cents

RB21p 1/4 cent roulette block of 4
2010 Scott Value: 50 cents

RB21p 1/4 cent hyphen hole block of 4
2010 Scott Value: 55 cents

RB21 1/4 cent roulette top plate block of six
2010 Scott Value: $110.00

RB21p 1/4 cent hyphen hole left imprint plate block of 6
2010 Scott Value: $125.00

RB21 1/4 cent imprint and value block of 9
Scott Value: None

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cancel for January 29: Horlick's Food Company


The Jonathan Richman song "Double Chocolate Malted" refers to using only Horlick's brand malt to make a proper chocolate malt.  I've always used Carnation when in the States, though I can find Horlicks here in Kenya.  Whatever the case, Horlick's became famous in the US and throughout the world for its malt powder.  I recommend downloading an MP3 of Richman's song Double Chocolate Malted.  What a joy!

William Horlick emigrated to the US in 1869 and his brother James followed him from Gloucestershire in 1873.  Together they founded a malted milk drink company and patented the product as an infant food.  By 1883 they had patented a malted milk drinking powder and were producing the product in their factory in Racine Wisconsin.  James returned to London in 1890 and set up an office importing the malt product from the US.  By 1908 they had build a UK based plant and began to grow the worldwide popularity of the product.  Today it can be found in countries all over the world, especially India and in the east. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cancel for January 28: C. Co. Savings Bank

C. Co. Savgs Bank

Beautiful bullseye on an R155. 

Cancel for January 28: C. W. Rasey

C. W. Rasey,
C.W. Rasey was the county recorder in Santa Barbara at the time of this cancel and must have used the stamp in his duties in that office.
From the History of Santa Barbara by C. M. Gidney, 1917:
"Charles W. Rasey. A well know and popular citizen of Santa Barbara, C. W. Rasey, President and manager of The Wright Abstract Company, has filled various positions of responsibility -- as a railroad man, as a county official, and for the past 14 years as the managing head of the above named land title company. He has always been held in high esteem as a public spirited man of ability and integrity...Coming from Colorado to California in 1881, he accepted a position with the Southern Pacific Railroad Company (then the Central Pacific) in its general passenger and ticket office in San Francisco, having been in charge of the apportionment, rates and divisions department in that office for six years. Leaving San Francisco in 1887, he came to Santa Barbara and became the Santa Fe Railway Company's passenger and ticket agent.
In January, 1895, Mr. Rasey resigned his position with the railway company to take up the duties of county recorder of Santa Barbara County, to which office he was elected in the Autumn of 1894...after having served the county in this important office for eight years and upon the expiration of his second term in 1903, he went into the office of the Wright Abstract Company as its manager...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cancel for January 26: Ladd & Coffin

Heather of the Links was a Ladd and Coffin product. Who wants to smell like a golf course?


Ladd & Coffin was a perfume company, better known to revenue stamp collectors as a user of private die revenue stamps during the Civil War tax period. At that time they were know by the name Young, Ladd & Coffin. RDHNINSTL considers some of these private die stamps here:
In 1902, Sturgis Coffin of the firm was reported by The New York Times as commenting on his firms merger into a large perfume company to be known as the American Perfume Company.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cancel for January 25: Star Union Line

JAN  25  1899

A Pennsylvania Railroad fast freight line. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cancel for January 24: Henry Belin, Jr.

Scranton, Pa.
What was this stamp used for? Look up Henry Belin IV in the Scranton area today and you'll find an insurance company. But in 1899 Henry Belin Jr. was a different sort of force in Scranton. He was President of Scranton's Trader's National Bank and President of the Du Pont company of Pennsylvania, which manufactured black powder for the coal mining industry.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cancel for January 23: Bank Check with 4 Cent Proprietary Bisect and the Signature of Major Harry Hill Bandholtz

Like the Wells Fargo receipt book page posted earlier this month, this post has a document with a famous military officer's name included.  Purchased in an auction several years ago, I never closely examined this check until I began to prepare this post.  Two subjects will be explored in this post: the 4 cent bisect and the signature on the check.

Bank check for the National Exchange Bank of Augusta, Georgia
from the account of the 35th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Exhange
Signed by Major Harry Hill Bandoltz
Stamp in upper left is 4 c proprietary cut in half to pay the 2 cent
bank check tax

Close up of the bisect 4 c proprietary with the initials HHB
for Major Harry Hill Bandholtz that "tie" the stamp to the check

Statue of General Harry Hill Bandholtz in front of the
US Embassy in Budapest, Hungary

Regarding Major Bandholtz' signature, from the website of the US Embassy in Hungary:
"The statue in the center of the park on Szabadság tér, facing the Embassy, is that of Harry Hill Bandholtz, Brigadier General, U.S. Army, who was Provost Marshall to General Pershing at the end of World War I.

On August 11, 1919, General Bandholtz arrived in Budapest as one of four generals (English, French, Italian, American) to become the Inter-Allied Control Commission for Hungary, primarily to supervise the disengagement of Romanian troops from Hungary.

He became famous when, on the night of October 5, 1919, as President of the Day of the Commission, mainly through bluff, armed only with a riding crop, he prevented a group of Romanian soldiers from removing Transylvanian treasures from the National Museum.

The statue was erected in 1936, and stood throughout World War II with the inscription, in English, "I simply carried out the instructions of my Government, as I understood them, as an officer and a gentleman of the United States Army." In the late 1940s the statue was removed "for repair." It lay in a statue boneyard until the 1980s, at which time it was placed in the garden of the U.S. Ambassador's residence, at the request of then-Ambassador Salgo. It was re-placed in Szabadság tér at its original location in July 1989, just a few days before the visit of President Bush.

The new inscription on the back reads: "General Harry Hill Bandholtz, head of the American Military Mission, who on October 5, 1919 blocked the removal of the treasures of the National Museum to Romania."  Each year, the U.S. Embassy's Defense Attache lays a wreath honoring Bandholtz on his birthday."

Regarding the 4 cent proprietary bisect:

Three observations:

1.  There is a bisect on the check, meaning there is a stamp that has been cut in half to signify half the value of the stamp that was cut in half.  In this case, a 4 cent stamp was cut in half to pay the 2 cent bank check tax.

2.  The bisected stamp is a proprietary stamp.  Not only is this stamp a proprietary and not a documentary stamp (and a check is a document), the 4 cent proprietary stamp was one of the less commonly used proprietary values. 

3.  The Scott Catalog does not list "unofficial bisects after 1880."

So from the point of view of the great arbiter of legitimacy in stamp collecting, Scott does not recognize this type of bisect.  However, in the revenue section of the Scott Catalog, the State Department's consular service fee stamps do have recognized bisects.  As these stamps were used by State Department officials and bisected by them, they are considered official bisects.

In the case of the check above, while the stamp was not bisected by revenue officials, it was bisected by an official of the US government and a future military hero.  While there is always room to suspect the intentional manufacture of a philatelic curiosity, I doubt that is likely in the case of this check.

Cancel for January 23: Callender & Company

The Callender & Company insurance agency was established in 1861 and still exists as a business today in Peoria.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cancel for January 21: Waltham Foundry Company


Likely a cancel for the Waltham Foundry Company but not confirmed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cancel for January 20: Chesapeake & Ohio Railway

C.  &  O.  RY.  CO.

Chesapeake and Ohio Logo

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cancel for January 17: Michigan Central Railway Cancel?

P M JAN 17
M.  C.  Ry.

Is this a railroad cancel and am I reading the Ry. portion correctly?  And if it is, is it for the Michigan Central, which I am certain was called "railroad" rather than "railway" at the time?

With the small portion of purple ink in the bottom margin I would guess that this stamp was bulk cancelled while still in the full pane and then used on a waybill as likely the other stamps in the pane.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cancel for January 16: C. H. B., Auditor

C.  H.  B.
JAN  16   1900

Almost certainly the cancel of a railroad company auditor.  Working on determining whose initials these are and what railroad he worked for.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cancel for January 14: Virginia and Truckee Railroad / Wells Fargo Receipt

Several months ago the receipt below was offered in an auction by Eric Jackson on Ebay.  While I found it attractive for its railroad associations including the Virginia and Truckee Railroad and the Southern Pacific, I became fascinated with it after a little research revealed that the final addressee was a Medal of Honor winner. 

This document is a Wells Fargo receipt book page for items to be forwarded via railroad.  Two of the 1 cent documentary stamps have handstamp cancels for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad.  There is a handstamp for the treasurer of the Southern Pacific Company, N. T. Smith.  There is also an entry for a General Passenger Agent of the Southern Pacific, T. H. Goodman.  The final entry at the bottom in manuscript is for a consignment for Captain Oscar F. Long, Assistant Quartermaster for the US Army in San Francisco.

Below I unpack the independent parts of this receipt:

1.  Virginia and Truckee Railroad

Above image inset from receipt

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad travels over some of the most difficult terrain for a railroad in the United States.  It was built to haul freight between Virginia, Nevada to Truckee, California after the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada, the first large deposit of silver found in the United States.  So much silver was mined there that the US government established a mint at Carson City to process some of the silver supply on site. 

2.  Captain Oscar F. Long:

Oscar F. Long as Second Lieutenant, Fifth Infantry, and addressee on final line of receipt

Inset from receipt: "Capt Oscar F Long Asst Qm U.S.A
Captain Long was involved in the Indian campaigns in the late 1800s, and became famous as a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for his heroism in the battle of Bear Paw Mountain against Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians.  By 1899 he was an Assistant Quartermaster in San Francisco and was responsible for equipping the ships and troops headed to the Philippines for action in the Pacific version of the Spanish-American war.  He rose through the ranks fairly quickly after his Medal of Honor.  In 1901 he was promoted to Major and Quartermaster.  In June 1904 he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and only one month later was promoted to Brigadier General after which he immediately retired. 

3.  The Southern Pacific Company:



T.H. Goodman. GPrTa SPC

T.H. Goodman was a General Passenger Agent for the
Southern Pacific and was based in San Francisco.

Now a part of the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific Company controlled the former Central Pacific Railroad by 1899. The Central Pacific was the railroad built from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah, to complete the first transcontinental railroad. The Southern Pacific became a linchpin in the growth of San Francisco and grew to control lines across the southern portion of the United States all the way to New Orleans. The Virginia and Truckee connected with the Central Pacific at Truckee.


 Example of Southern Pacific handstamp; stamp not on receipt

4.  Wells Fargo:


W. F. & CO. Ex.
OCT   6   1900
Example of Wells Fargo handstamp; stamp not receipt

One of the best known brands in American history, Wells Fargo ran banking and express operations from headquarters in San Francisco. Wells Fargo also controlled early pony express and stage coach routes across the west..  The company has since given up its express business and is one of the largest banks in the United States. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cancel for January 13: H. W. Dennington

H. W. Dennington Sr. was the second vice-president of the the Schenectady Savings Bank in 1917. I have not been able yet to track what he was doing in 1899 that might have necessitated the preparation and use of a handstamp to cancel revenue stamps.

H. W. Dennington Jr. graduated with a Bachelors of Commercial Science from NYU in 1916 as reported by the New York Times.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cancel for January 12: New York Central and Western Railway

N. Y. C. & W. RY. CO

Are these letters for the NYC & W, and was that a railway?

April 8, 2011 Editors note:  See the entry for April 8, 2011 correcting the interepretation of this cancel.  The letters are not the NYC & W, but the NY, O & W. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cancel for January 11: Company Unknown

JAS.  xxxxxxIKAN

Need help identifying this one. 

Cancel for January 10: Philadelphia City Passenger Railway Company

Dividend check for the Philadelphia City Passenger
Railway Company

Stamp from check upper left:

P. C. P. R. W. CO.
JAN 10

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Proprietary Printed Cancels: BIG 4

A couple days ago on January 8 I posted the image of a 1/8 cent proprietary stamp cancelled "BIG 4".  Today I will go a bit more in depth regarding this peculiar cancel.  It has often caused confusion with philatelists due to its non-standard origin.  In a 1975 edition of the American Revenuer there was speculation about whether this cancel had been applied by a midwest railroad known as the Big 4.  This cancel has never had anything to do with that railroad, despite any similarities, and I will illustrate a cancel of the railroad later in this post. 

I have two types of BIG 4 cancels in my collection, the one immediately below in two lines and a one line version that is also illustrated.  The cancel was created as an advertising stunt by the J.W. Stowell Printing Company, which produced four philatelic publications.  To advertise those four, which included the magazines The Perforater, The Herald Exchange, The Philatelic Bulletin, and The New York Philatelist, Stowell created a promotional card that it sent to stamp dealers that purchased philatelic advertisements.  The stamp was attached to the card, and the cancel and the card were printed at the same time. 

From what I can figure, the J.W. Stowell Printing Company is no more, or at least not with that name and not in Federalsburg, Maryland, where it was based. 

Two-line version of the BIG 4 cancel

A copy of this stamp and cancel is currently for sale at Eric Jackson's Ebay store.  The image below shows how Stowell used this type of cancel in a mock postal format.  The image comes from the February 1976 American Revenuer. 

The poor image quality of the image above comes from the American Revenuer as printed in the journal.  I am very interested in securing the real Stowell items.


A single line example of the BIG 4 cancel above, and an image of an example of its use in the 1899 J.W. Stowell advertisment below.  Note the BIG 4 publications are listed in the advert.

There was an old journal known as Midwest Precancel News that specialized primarily in postage stamp precancels but on occasion featured revenue stamps.  Printed cancels on the battleships were in many ways precancels.  The article below was part of a short survey of several of the major companies that used battleship printed cancels, including the Antikamnia Company and the Emerson Drug Company.

Midwest Precancel News, August 1936
Volume 3, Number 12, p. 47

Franklin Smith in this 1936 edition of the periodical Midwest Precancel News wrote about the Big 4 cancel.  Smith notes at the end of this short piece that there are 3 versions of the BIG 4 cancel.  I have only seen 2, and they are the examples from my collection illustrated above.  Despite Mr. Smith's article, by 1975 there was speculation about the exact origin of this cancel in the American Revenuer.  The AR put it straight though by February 1976 when it published a short article by Michael Gromet with an illustration of the advertising card by J. W. Stowell.  According to that article the two line version of the cancel was found on a mock postal cancellation made by Stowell while the single line cancel was found on the card.  Gromet illustrated the article with the images of use included above.

The distractor that has thrown some philatelists off regarding the origin of this cancel was the Big Four railroad - also known as the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway. 

Hand illustrated cancel of the Big Four Railroad from the April 1974
edition of the American Revenuer, page 106

Henry Tolman and Steve Leavitt began a project in 1974 in the American Revenuer to illustrate railroad cancels on the 1898s.  Serialized alphabetically, the cancels were illustrated and reprinted in the American Revenuer.  Unfortunately the effort ended after two editions of the periodical and never got past the "Cs", but they did illustrate a Big Four Railroad cancel.  I do not yet have a stamp with any type of Big Four cancel in my collection, so I've cribbed the Tolman/Leavitt illustration and pasted it above.  Amusingly, in the key in the American Revenuer for this cancel, a typo indicated that this was a cancel for the "Big Sour" Railroad. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cancel for January 9: C. B. Seger, Southern Pacific Railroad


C. B. Seger was the auditor for the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Francisco in 1901.  It appears as though most railroad firms kept an independent auditor's office as many have a series of handstamp cancels for their auditor independent of their other operations. 

C. B. Seger would go on to leave the Southern Pacific to eventually become President of the United States Rubber Company.

Tracking 1898 Values: The 1/8 Cent Proprietary

Three days ago on January 5 in a post regarding 1/8 cent proprietary prices I mentioned that there were cancellations on these stamps that in certain cases sold at substantial premiums over Scott Catalog prices for "regular" used or unused copies of this stamp.  This post will highlight a couple (and small fraction) of those premium cancels.

We'll start with the most expensive cancel currently selling in Eric Jackson's Ebay store, a "BIG 4" cancel.


The stamp above is in my collection.  In Eric Jackson's Ebay store he currently lists an extra fine copy of this stamp, unlike the gouged copy above, for sale.  His price is $100.  This cancel is unlike most proprietary cancels.  The printed cancellation was applied by an printing company that printed four stamp collecting journals and magazines, and was applied in 1899 as an advertising stunt.  Despite its philatelic origins the cancel is scarce today.  The PAB used either two or three types of cancels on this stamp and only cancelled 1/8 cent proprietary stamps.

Eric Jackson's 1/8 cent proprietary printed cancels for sale can be found here: EJ 1/8 Cent printed cancels.  In the coming year I will file a more detailed post regarding the BIG 4 cancels.  Below is a stamp cancelled by a company for use on its proprietary products:

L  &  M  CO.
Jul.  9  1898

The above stamp was cancelled by Langley and Michaels, a firm based in San Francisco.  At the link to Eric Jackson's store above you can also find a copy of a stamp with this cancel for sale for $12.50.  Langley & Michaels also cancelled other values in the proprietary battleship series.

The above two stamps are a small sample of the many varieties of printed cancels on these stamps.  Handstamp cancels for the certain companies also sell for a premium, and have recently been available for sale by Robert Mustacich on Ebay.  Mustacich is a co-author of the Battleship Desk Reference, and has been selling parts of his collection.

While most used battleship stamps are relatively common and cheap, some are scarce and command higher prices than others.  Above are just two examples.  In the coming year I will be highlighting many relatively scarce proprietary stamps with printed and handstamp cancels.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cancel for January 7: Continental Fruit Express

JAN  7     1901

As posted previously, the CFX was controlled by the Armour Corporation, one of the largest meat packing companies in the United States.  The refrigerator cars or "reefers" developed to haul the dressed meat for shipping east became a sideline business for major meat packers like Armour, and they created their own fleets of refrigerator cars for hire, especially for hauling fruit during high season.  Cars like that below were used by the major railroads under contract from CFX to handle seasonal demand.

Continental Fruit Express model refrigerator car