Sunday, October 3, 2010

American Express Money Order

Yeah, I know, the remitter and the payee for this American Express Money Order are one in the same, it is made payable for just one cent, and it hasn't been cashed. That's three strikes against it being a normal, legitimate usage. But so what if it was likely just philatelicly inspired, or purchased as a souvenir, or for some other unknown reason?

How else would one obtain a usage example? Once cashed, money orders were returned to the company issuing them never to be seen again; not unlike the treasury bond interest check previously described here. I just wish F.W. Covel would have purchased it on July 1, 1898, the first day of the tax period, rather than 10 days later!

American Express Money Order for One Cent
Rockland, Maine July 11, 1898

Because it helps to "tell the story" of the usage of the 1898 revenue stamps (money orders were specifically taxed, like inland bills of exchange, at the rate of 2-cents per $100 in value or fraction thereof), I include it in my exhibit of taxed documents, acknowledging its likely nature as a philatelicly inspired souvenir.

Chapter 3 of the current 6th edition of
APS' Manual of Philatelic Judging, under Philatelic Importance, states, "...If the only existing material is philatelicly inspired or contrived, the exhibit should not be penalized for its inclusion."

I believe Covel's money order is a prime example of that situation. Can anyone otherwise show an example of a "cashed" money order from the 1898 tax period?

Can anyone show other philatelic items either addressed to, or created by, F. W. Covel?

UPDATE Tuesday October 5, 2010:

I'm reminded by Bob Hohertz, whose memory obviously is much better than mine, that he helped me secure this money order at a show some years ago. According to Bob he had found two of them in a dealer's stock and bought both and then offered me the one shown above, keeping the other one for himself. That one reportedly is dated July 5, 1898 and it bears a 2-cent I. R. overprint paying the tax.

But we still don't understand why Mr. Covel bought them!

Bob also suggested the purchaser's name was probably Covel, not Cavel. He was correct, as with that spelling I found reference to Mr. Covel on Google.

F. W. Covel was a manufacturer of fine sleigh trimmings and carriage name plates in Rockland, Maine. Mr. Covel took over the business in 1884 from his father, J. W. Covel, who founded it in 1875.

F. W. Covel is also credited as being the inventor " Covel's Electric Rheumatic Ring," for the prevention and cure of rheumatism in the wrist, arm and through the shoulders. The ring was composed of a coil of copper and zinc, and when placed upon one's finger it reportedly generated a current of electricity which passed through the affected parts giving immediate relief.

I wonder if the sale of those "Rheumatic Rings" were taxable under the proprietary tax laws as medicinal proprietary articles?

The more you learn, the more you wonder!

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