Monday, January 31, 2011

AEtna Insurance


On January 21 I posted a dated Aetna cancel.  I found an additional Aetna cancel in my collection yesterday. 

1899:  Aetna enters the field of health insurance. It wasn't until the turn of the century when larger insurance companies, with the statistical bases to set adequate pricing levels and the sales forces capable of spreading risk, enter the field, and health insurance becomes a part of the industry. In 1899 Aetna becomes one of the first stock insurance companies to enter the health insurance business. The new product was offered only to people holding or purchasing an Aetna life or accident policy, and was not intended to be anything more than a spur to the sales of the other two lines.

Aetna is a major lobbying force regarding the current health care debate. 

Another Florida East Coast Steamship Company Ocean Passage Ticket

This is a continuation of a series of posts about Ocean Passage tickets.

Florida East Coast Steamship Company
Ocean Passage Ticket
Jacksonville, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas
December 30, 1899

A fourth Florida East Coast Steamship Company Ocean Passage ticket has surfaced. All four tickets are from the same party, purchased December 22,1899 in New York and presumably all used December 30, 1899. At least the $1 stamps on all four tickets were cancelled on that date.

I'm not sure about the last name of the traveler listed on this ticket, but William's known companions via the steamer Lincoln were Miss Lizzie Johnston, Thomas Charleston, and Miss Agnes Munroe whose tickets previously have been reported. Were there others on this same New Year's holiday trip to the Bahamas? How did these four tickets reach the philatelic market? We may never know the answers, but our thanks goes to Bob Mustacich for adding to the census of known ocean passage tickets by reporting this one.

Eight tickets now have been reported. Seven bear the $1 Commerce Issue appropriate for tickets costing $30 or less. A single ticket bearing a $5 Commerce stamp, appropriate for a ticket costing more than $60, will be featured in an upcoming blog. We're still looking for a usage of the $3 Commerce stamp, appropriate for tickets costing more than $30 to $60.

Anyone having knowledge of other taxed Ocean Passage tickets is invited to report same, with scans if possible, to

Saturday, January 29, 2011

R155 Bullseyes

I spent a little time yesterday grouping these "bullseye" cancelled R155s, and I liked the look of them together so much that I thought I would share them.  If you have any attractive R155 bullseyes, I would appreciate you sending a high resolution scan and I will add it to this group of five. 

Dave Thompson answered the call today, just a few hours after the five above were posted.  Below are two of the R155 bullseyes in his collection (the Central of Georgia cancel has already appeared on this site):

Frank Sente sent in the scan of this July 1, 1898 manuscript cancel below.  Not a CDS, though it is complete on the stamp:

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Solo R161 On-Document Usage

United States Casualty Company Limited Travel Accident Policy
Dayton, Ohio August 16,1898

We previously mentioned the existance of this document when conducting a census of on-document usages of R161, the 1/2-cent orange documentary issue. Now, courtesy of Bob Mustacich,we're pleased to show it. Actually it is just one of two reported solo usages of R161. The other five reported on-document usages all are in combination with other stamps.

The need for a 1/2-cent documentary issue resulted from the one-half cent tax per dollar of premium paid on accident, fidelity,and guarantee insurance policies. R161 usages are rare because it was in use for only a short period of time. Because its color so closely matched that of the 3/8-cent proprietary stamp, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing discontinued printings of the 1/2-cent orange after just two days(the exact total printed is unknown) and changed its color to gray. Proper usages of the subsequent gray 1/2-cent issue, R162, aren't exactly common either; but they are not nearly as scarce as the orange variety.

Unlike many travel accident policies that were good for just one-day, or were trip specific, this one covered Chas R. Boes (who also cancelled the stamp)of Dayton, Ohio for a full year; although the death benefit was only $750, much less than the $5,000 that was typical for most single day policies.

Reverse Side of Policy

The census of on-document usages of R161, the 1/2-cent orange documentary, stands at seven reported documents. If you can add an additional usage please contact us, with scans if possible, at

NOTE: Bob Mustacich , along with Tony Giacomelli, authored The Battleship Desk Reference: A Study Of Proprietary Battleship Revenue Stamps And Their Cancellations. It's an invaluable guide for anyone interested in the proprietary issues. For more information visit Bob's website.

2 Cent Documentary Calendar: Third Year of Use

This is the third of three posts on the 2 cent documentary battleship calendar in which all 36 months of the calendar are posted. This post involves the third year of primary use of these stamps, from July 1900 to June 1901.

As I wrote in a previous post, I do not know who was the orginal compiler of this calendar.  It is extremely disappointing that I will likely never know and certainly will never speak with its original builder.  The source of the stamps, the time spent, the identification of certain cancels are all questions I would like to have answered. 

One aspect of a website like this is the ability to share the knowledge of collectors, not just with regard to philatelic knowledge but the history and legacies of the hobby.  Yes, we all see in auction catalogs and sales of one kind or another the comments ex-Joyce, ex-Lilly, etc., but the ongoing thoughts of collectors  are not contained in these "ex-s".  There is so much that has been lost.  But with use of the web, those so inspired can help address this hemorraghing of information. 

Further, there are many cancels in this calendar, initials in particular, for which I cannot trace any origin.  Sometimes serendipity occurs, and someone like Bob Hohertz posts a Venice Transport Company check with the initials HVG.  And then I know the source of the HVG, Treasurer cancels in this calendar.  I encourage collectors to look through these calendar pages and help decipher certain initial cancels.  For example, while I am fairly certain that the C.P. cancels from Cleveland in this calendar are those of the Canadian Pacific, what company is represented by the C.P. cancels from Omaha, Nebraska?

July 1900 to June 1901 calendar:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cancel for January 27: Live Poultry Transportation Company

L.P.T. CO.

Bob Hohertz illustrated a post on January 11 with an on-check use of this cancel.  This stamp comes from the calendar that is being posted this month.

By 1897, the Live Poultry Transportation Company had over 200 rail cars for shipping live birds.

The cars were able to be set low on their wheels as the payload was relatively light, enabling greater space for carrying birds.  Note the wire mesh sides.  The wind of the moving train must have ruffled their feathers.

From Bob Hohertz' LPT draft showing birds in cages, in which the cages themselves have wings.  I guess the company wasn't satisfied that the then modern technology of railroading provided enough imagery to create a branding logo.  Instead, the birds are presented as passive, flightless things inside cages that have wings.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2 Cent Documentary Calendar: Second Year of Use

This is the second of three posts on the 2 cent documentary battleship calendar in which all 36 months of the calendar will be posted.  This post involves the second year of primary use of these stamps, from July 1899 to June 1900.  The calendar is nearly complete with cancels from all dates during the 12 month period except for most Sundays and July 4. 

The calendar is replete with cancels from railroads and companies that maintained their own rolling stock. 

July includes cancels from the following companies:

July 1:  Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway
July 3:  Ann Arbor Railroad
July 5:  Canadian Pacific Railway
July 10:  Cornplanter Refining Company
July 11:  Southern Pacific Railroad
July 12:  Michigan Southern Railroad 
July 17:  Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway
July 19:  Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway
July 22: New York Central & Hudson River Railroad
July 24: Merchants Despatch Transportation Company
July 25: Northern Ohio Railway
July 26:  Fairmount Coal & Coke
July 27:  Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
July 28:  Cleveland, Canton & Southern Railway
July 31:  Keokuk & Western Railroad

As I noted in a post about this calendar in April 2009, I originally obtained this calendar in an auction of Henry Tolman's collection by Robert Siegel.  The calendar was sold in as a single lot near the end of Part 4 of the Siegel Tolman sales.  As I wrote in that earlier post, it is not clear to me that this calendar was compiled by Mr. Tolman.  Margin notes in Tolman's hand that spell out the identification of certain cancels read like the notes of someone who is reviewing a calendar after it has been completed by another and not the notes of someone that had spent 100s if not thousands of hours putting together such a calendar. 

Just as Robert Bell marvelled at Keightly's completion of the Penny Lilac calendar for the quality of handstamp cancels, this calendar should create similar marvel.  Most cancels are clear, and while there is much repetition of one railroad (the LS&MS), there is striking variety of railroads and large industrial companies. 

Cancels from the Cleveland oil refiner Scofield, Shurmer & Teagle (Oct 4), the Central Equipment Company (Oct 17), and The American Cereal Company appear on the October 1899 page of the calendar amid a field of railroad cancels.  All of these companies likely had their railroad cars for the products: tankers for SS&T and hoppers for The American Cereal Company.

In some cases the cancels range to shipping companies, including the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company, whose handstamp cancel can be found in the November 18 slot.

In the next few days I will post the final year of this calendar, from July 1, 1900 to June 30, 1901.  As of July 1901 taxes were ended on bank checks and drafts, ending the primary use for the 2 cent documentary stamp.  The original compiler of this calendar did not go beyond June 30, 1901.   2 cent documentaries can be found in mixed usage into 1902 for purposes other than checks and drafts.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Montpelier & Wells River Railroad Bill of Lading

John and I were discussing the last year of the various Spanish American War taxes, which prompted me to look at the dates on some of my bills of lading since the one-cent tax remained on them for that final year between July 1, 1901 and July 1, 1902. One that was dated in that final year was this bill used by the Montpelier & Wells River Railroad on November 8, 1901.

The railroad consisted of 38.22 miles of single track between Montpelier and Wells River in northern Vermont, plus a 3.38 mile spur to Barre. It became part of the Barre & Chelsea in late 1944. That line was absorbed by the Montpelier & Barre in 1957, which became part of the Washington County Railroad in 1980. At least part of the route has been converted rail-to-trail over the last few years.

The cancel is from the Marshfield office.

A map and schedule from 1901.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cancel for January 24: German American Insurance Company


Now known as the Great American Life Insurance Company (GALIC), the German American Insurance Company was founded in 1872.  The company changed its name to the Great American Insurance Company in 1918, when World War I created a wave of anti-German feeling in the United States.  The company clearly decided to overcompensate when it chose the "Great American" moniker.

The company's home page is here.

The German-American building in New York City at the corner of Nassau and Liberty Streets.  The building housed the insurance company.

The Potter Drug & Chemical Corporation

The Potter Drug & Chemical Corporation began as Weeks & Potter sometime in the 1850's or '60's. The company used first issue revenues and four different private die proprietary stamps during the period of the Civil War proprietary taxes. The name of the company was changed to the Potter Drug & Chemical Company on January 1, 1883, and it was incorporated as the Potter Drug & Chemical Corporation on January 1, 1899.

The firm did not use private die stamps during the Spanish-American War tax period. The battleship revenue above has an indistinct cancel of P D & C C; undoubtedly better copies are available. However, the stamp has the distinction of being still attached to an original Cuticura Anti-Pain Plaster costing twenty-five cents.

The brochure that was part of the wrapping says that the plaster features, "A New, Original, and Wonderful Combination of Therapeutic Agents.

"Vastly Superior to Every Other Plaster and Pain-Destroying Compound Before the Public.

"In response to many and repeated requests of physicians, pharmacists and others with whom the CUTICURA REMEDIES have become the synonyms of all that is efficient, reliable and elegant in domestic medicinal preparations, we have, after much patient investigation and elaborate experiment, compounded and now offer to the public a Plaster containing the most potent pain-alleviating properties, combined with the choicest essences, extracts, gums and balsams of recent pharmacy and Bible history." And so on, and on, and on.

Cuticura soap can still be bought, and apparently is a good product.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2 Cent Documentary Calendar: First Year of Use

In the current January 2011 edition of the American Philatelist is an article by Robert M. Bell entitled Keightley's Philatelic Sistine Chapel.  The article is about a calendar of the British Penny Lilac stamp that begins July 11, 1881 and end January 1, 1902.  Walter Keightly put this calendar together, and assembled a nearly complete run of cancel dates for this entire period, with 7,457 dates complete with cancels of the 7,476 possible dates.  The Penny Lilac stamp had a lengthy run of over 11 years, making the assembly of such a calendar an enormous task.  There is a scan of a page in the calendar from November 1886, with mostly clear and complete CDS cancels.

Robert Bell writes the following about philatelic calendars in general:

   There appears to be little literature about philatelic calendars.  Nothing, as far as I have found, compares to the Keightly calendar.
   James Chemi (late former editor of the The American Philatelist) discusses calendars and mentions the collection of of a Lawson Nagle.  This involved the US 3 cent orange-brown stamp of 1851-55 (Scott 10).  Nagle's calendar collection spanned only a single year, 1852, which was a leap year, and the original collector of these 366 stamps is unknown.
   Donald Landis of Madrid, Spain mentioned a calendar that he was building.  However, this calendar comprised socked-on-the-nose or hand-written cancellations from any issue or country, and he was aiming for every day since 1860, or (then) about 48,000 days.  Landis reported subsequently that his collection had reached 40,000 specimens, with many nearly complete months in his albums; in particular, July 1911 was illustrated with just one day missing.  Tangentially, we hear from Landis that there was a Bull's-eye Cancel Collectors' Club; it seems to have become defunct in 1994 but has enjoyed a successful revival since 1999 (see:
   Jerry Jensen uses the term "Date of use collection" for a calendar of mixed German issues.  Pages for the months of March, 1921, January 1894, June 1873, and August 1948 appear in his article.  The collection has specimens beginning in 1872 and had by 1992, the collecting potential of 43,000 stamps/days.  There was no measure of the completeness of the collection.

Robert Bell does not mention any attempts to complete calendars with revenue stamps, whether of US revenues or those of other countries, though the Penny Lilac is of the "postage and inland revenue" variety.  Yet there has been at least one article over the years in the American Revenuer on building this type of calendar for a US First Issue revenue stamp.  Over the past two years I have referenced a calendar in my possession of the 2 cent documentary battleship.  The calendar runs for the 36 months in which most of the 1898 tax act applied (some taxes continued for an additional year).  Virtually all days except for Sundays are complete in the calendar for the full 3 year period.  What makes the calendar most remarkable is that nearly all of the cancels come from transportation related businesses.  The calendar is dominated by railroad and related business handstamps.  For example, there are many business like linseed oil companies and other railcar holding companies. 

I am posting the first 12 months of this calendar today, and will post the remainder, by year, before the end of the month.