Friday, August 20, 2010

R161 Used on a Check

I recall how excited I was about 10 years ago when I obtained my first on-document usage of R161, the 1/2-cent Orange Documentary. I had been searching for one for at least that long. And I was thrilled to find a second usage just last year. But my jaw literally dropped when I opened the scan of the check shown below provided by fellow 1898 revenue collector Bob Patetta.

The 1/2-cent battleship documentaries were issued specifically for use on insurance-related documents as the tax on most insurance policies, other than life insurance, was 1/2-cent per dollar of premium paid. To find both the R161 Orange and R162 Gray 1/2-cent values used together on a check with an R163 1-cent battleship to pay the two-cent bank check tax is extremely unusual.

The battleship revenues were the most colorful stamps of their era and usages featuring more than one denomination can be visually attractive. This one is simply stunning. Thanks, Bob, for sharing it.

George C. Arnold Worsted Yarns Check
Providence, R.I. November 4, 1898

The small strip of tape on the back of the check likewise is unusual. Its red color highlights the $200$ security punch used to confirm the amount of the check.

George C(arpenter) Arnold was a life-long resident of Rhode Island whose ancestors first arrived in 1635 and were associates of Roger Williams. Subsequent ancestors fought in the American Revolution and George, himself, was an officer in the Rhode Island Militia.

Arnold was engaged in the worsted yarn business for more than twenty-five years and also served as an officer or director in several other Providence businesses. He was interested in numismatics and geneology. A brief biographical sketch can be found in the
1919 SAR National Yearbook.

Bob Patetta has provided two other R161 uages that we'll show in coming days. The census of reported on-document usages of the R161 1/2-cent orange documentary stands at seven. If you are aware of additional usages please email us, with scans if possible, at

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