Saturday, January 23, 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.

1 comment:

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