Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Auction Results: Spink Shreves Sale, August 19-20, 2011

1898 Proprietary lots from August 19-20 Sprink Shreves Sale
Stamp Auction Network screen capture

A couple of 1898 items were placed on sale at the recent Spink Shreve auction.  Interesting and bullish results for the two lots:

  • An RB27p 2ct proprietary plate and imprint block of six sold for $210, within the estimated price range for the block.
  • A collection of proprietary stamps including imperf between pairs of the 2 1/2c and 5c stamps sold for $450 when the estimated price was set from $200-300.

To view the actual auction results, click over to this page at Stamp Auction Network.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Imprinted Check for Use by the Jr. O.U.A.M.

The Junior O.U.A.M. is the Junior Order of the United American Mechanics, a group formed in 1853 to oppose immigration and promote reading of the Bible. The group founded orphan homes and offered fraternal insurance by 1899. At their peak around the beginning of the Twentieth Century they numbered several hundred thousand.

The Junior O.U.A.M. is still active today, though it appears that racial and sectarian restrictions on membership are no longer practiced. Their website does indicate that they now accept legal immigration as a route to citizenship, recognize the Constitution of the United States as the "defining instrument for governing our society," and believe that the Bible .."is the basis upon which our government is founded.." Their website is, and a short article on the original group is found at

They no longer seem to have a chapter in New Jersey - at least, there is no State council there.

One paragraph from their website struck me as worth repeating: "It's always important for us to remember that ...'Good judgment often comes from a lot of bad judgment.' America has had her share of bad judgment. I pray that we're beyond many of the troublesome periods in America, and we pray for mercy not justice."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cancel for August 30: Cleveland, Canton & Southern Railroad


As referenced in previous posts, Bob Mustacich has put online a series of downloadable .pdfs that catalog or list railroad cancels on the 1898 battleship stamps.  Above is a sample page from the Cs.  On the bottom row is listed the Cleveland, Canton & Southern Railroad, and the stamp in this post above is the example used on this page for this railroad.  To directly access Bob's site, click here.  This link takes you to the page that lists the individual and alphabetized .pdfs. 

Cancel for August 30: Wisconsin Central Lines


WC route map

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cancel for August 29: Express Coal Line

E. C. L.

Edwin M. Post was the President of Express Coal Line.  From The Who's Who in New York, 1904:

Edwin M. Post:  Banker; born Jan. 6, 1870, Cincinnati, Ohio; educated at Columbia University.
Married. Member of firm of Thomas & Post, members of New York Stock Exchange; president of Express Coal Line and Georgia Car Co.; vice-president of Southern Iron Car Line ; secretary, treasurer and director Manhattan Car Trust Co.; secretary and director Louisville, Henderson & St. Louis R. R. Co. Member Tuxedo, Lambs, Union, St. Anthony, Knickerbocker, Larchmont Yacht, and Seawanhaka-Corinthian Yacht Clubs, Sons of Revolution and Down Town Association. Residence, 18 West 10th St. Office, 71 Broadway, N. Y.


A few days ago this site featured a post on one of the charter members of the Larchmont Yacht Club and his suicide in 1907.  Mr Post is cited above as being a member of the club.  I suppose that Mr. Post must have known Bill Alley quite well.  See the original William S. Alley post here.

Cancel for August 29: Chase O'Hara and the Union Refrigerator Line

C.  O'H.
AUG  29  1898



Can someone complete this cancel?  Ainsworth, Wordsworth, other options?  It can't be too hard.  David Thompson and I have nothing else to go on but this stamp. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cancel for August 27: Manistee & Northeastern Railroad

M.  &  N.  E.  R.  R.

M & N E RR route map

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cancel for August 26: Hot Springs Railroad

Hot Springs  R. R. Co.

Though this railroad ceased to exist long ago, its roundhouse in Malvern, Arkansas remains and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Clarence Addington DeCamp of Boonton, New Jersey

Yesterday, Bob Hohertz posted a couple of checks on this site that he considers "the oddest imprinted checks I've ever seen."  I'm grateful for his posting of these items, for while they are odd, they are aslo intriguing.  Yesterday evening I set about trying to learn just who was C. A. DeCamp, the signer and creator of this check.  As Bob explained, the check below, though it appears entirely handwritten, is mostly a printed product.  C. A. DeCamp and his business is acknowledged at the far left, and Mr. DeCamp's signature appears at the lower right.  The check is obviously odd because the printed portion is in manuscript.  But this in an odd item with or without the 2 cent imprint.

Inset from check:

C. A. DeCamp
Real Estate
Mansion house
Boonton N. J.

Mr. DeCamp appears to have been an early naturalist and conservationist in Morris County, New Jersey.  Land that he preserved and on which he created access roads for hikers in the mid to late 1800s is today a park known as The Tourne.  From his activity on his land it is clear why he might have been in the businesses of real estate and forestry.  Though why he produced manuscript printed checks is a mystery that is likely to remain unsolved.

The Mountain Lakes, New Jersey website has a wonderful history regarding The Tourne and Mr. DeCamp:

By the later part of the century Clarence Addington DeCamp's activities began to make front-page news. Many local residents still remember the small, gruff, slightly rumpled gentleman who, axe in hand, spent a great part of his life on his beloved "Torn." Born in Powerville on March 17, 1859, descendant of a prestigious Huguenot family and grandchild of Morris County ironmasters, Mr. DeCamp from the age of 15 kept a written account of the "principle facts" of his life, and from his journals we learn a great deal about the old ridge which he variously called the Torn, Tam, Toren, Tome or Toume. Toren in modern Dutch means tower or steeple. A survey map of the ancient Boonten Tract shows a western boundary intriguingly labeled "The Dutch Line". Netherlandish settlers found the upland topography impressively high, the summit towering 897 feet over the flatland below. Thus the descriptive everyday sort of designation that reflects a constant repetitiousness in Dutch place names, There are lots of "Torens" in the lofty hills of old Dutch New Jersey and New York.

On November 29,1878, we have the first written record of 19 year old Clarence's budding engineering prowess. "Today I hauled a stone off the Tarn from halfway up to put in the bottom of the well. It is about 5'3" long, 20" wide and 15" thick." As far as we know, that heavy stone is still lying on the bottom of the well at the DeCamp home in Powerville, the former Scott Mansion, now the Sarah Frances Nursing Home.

Nineteen years lager he was still maneuvering rocks and rolling boulders around to satisfy some personal whimsy or conclude some rather novel pursuit. On June 8, 1897, his journal reports that: "Last Sun. with Walter, Will, Harry, Tom and John Bowden walked up Tom. John Taylor was there & we tried with prop to move the big rock near top on South westside which rock rests on two points of ledge & 1 little boulder, the big rock weighs 40 or 50 tons. Maybe we failed to move it, but I hope someday to balance it so that it will easily be made to oscillate." Someday was not too far off for determined Clarence. The diary continues: "On June 28 or 29 Austin and I went on Tom and balanced big boulder on west side so that it exalts. Austin found a mouse nest in the cleft in side of boulder wherein an old mouse & young ones and we named the rock "The Mouse Cradle." He went on to say that young David Merritt, who was picking raspberries, happened along and helped them. Today visitors on the summit can follow a short marked trail to the big glacial erratic to which he gave such a delightfully appropriate name and witness Mr. DeCamp's well calculated manipulation.

Using only shovel, axe, pick and crow bar, he built single-handedly a road to the "Top of the Toume" and cleared paths which are still used today. Everyone was welcome on his beloved mountain. He published a short-lived and controversial periodical named the "Little Paper Called Boonton," and as sole editor and only reporter he announced in his July 13, 1894, edition that: "It is our intention to erect on the Toume top an observation tower from the top of which the climber will be more nearly able to see the traditional ships in New York Bay than he has ever seen before." On October 13 he stated that: "the Tower will be raised on Saturday, Oct. 20 weather permitting. The material has been assembled on the top of the hill ... All feel free to attend the affair. Water to drink and fire to keep warm. The able bodies will raise the tower in the afternoon, doing the preliminary work in the forenoon. The proper way to go up from Boonton is via McCaffrey's Lane. The road leading to the top that way will be cleared away and plainly marked. Guests are requested to leave the lighting of bonfires to those whom the management will appt. for the purpose. If this request is granted, damage to the property will be avoided." Now there was a tower on the Tower! This was later replaced by a second one, well remembered today.

Mr. DeCamp loved bonfire picnics and evening torchlight parades. Two years earlier he had advertised the: "Nicest Evening Entertainment Yet - A Bonfire Party! At Old App's Southside of Tourne, near Rigby's Brook. Entry through McCaffrey's Lane. Friday evening at Sundown. Tickets -250 - May be procured of the Directors. Stages will run between the Library Bldg. & McCaffrey's Lane." A picture book turnout of fun-loving revellers on the old mountain road with "Mr. Trewarffia on the grounds with ice cream and such like things for sale."

He also loved to clear and bum scrubland, and residents on the Kincaid, Stickle, and Bott farms two mfleg away in the northern valley could look southward, note the billowing smoke and make the smiling, but sometimes worried, observation that "Clarence DeCamp is burning brush today." In his later years he did set the woods on fire once or twice. All the residents of McCaffrey Lane and Powerville Road rushed to his aid with brooms and buckets of water. In May of 1891 Mr. DeCamp purchased from Morris Fox the Rattlesnake Meadow reservation, which by that year had been diminished to 94 acres of swamp and sprout land. He paid $2,700 for the property which had, over two centuries, been variously owned by Ogden's heirs, John Righter's heirs, Philip Brady, Peter Tucker and Mr. Fox. No twists and turns in etymology here. After almost three hundred years this once fearsome little pocket of timber rattlers still assumes its instinctively emotive nomenclature and is testimony to the fact that native sons and daughters have cherished and preserved the names under which our localities were born.

The Ogden Trail, dedicated by the Morris County Park Commission on May 4,1991, in recognition of the Ogden family's contribution to local, county and state history, skirts Rattlesnake Meadow and follows the line of a railroad spur proposed in 1899 to run between Boonton and Denville. It was more specifically described in Mr. DeCamp's diary as "running from Howell's No. 3 lake (in today's Mountain Lakes) to the Toren." His records reveal that he, at the age of 40, was in charge of the work, bossing 16 or 18 men with 3 carts, and spending $2,000 on grading. On October 16, "a day of Scotch mist, "he noted that the line was nearly done and that he was wondering, "What next?" It has taken exactly one hundred years to answer his contemplative question. The still evident roadbed of the spur which never came to pass has been named the Ogden Trail.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Oddest Imprinted Checks I've Ever Seen

eBay seller Mike Kazanjian has been listing some checks on eBay which he describes as having been written by hand - "holographic." When I saw these, my first reaction was that it couldn't have happened. With Mike's cooperation I discovered I was right, but I still consider these likely to be the oddest imprinted checks produced in the entire Spanish American War tax period.

To get an imprint on checks during the tax period, a user first had to have the checks printed. They then took or sent them to a Revenue Agent housed at one of the 28 or so printers authorized to print imprints, along with their payment. The Agent would give them to the printer, who would imprint them and return them to the user. This process left no room for a user to get a supply of otherwise blank imprinted paper that they could use to create a holographic check. Oh, a piece of imprinted printer's waste could have escaped and someone could have risked the wrath of the IRS by trying to use it to defraud the government of two cents, but likely not more than once. And there were a number of these checks.

I ended up with four of them - two used during the tax period and two used later. All appear to have been made out in dark black ink, with a lighter black used for the amount, payee and signature. All are printed on lightly-ruled graph paper.

And yes, printed. If you look closely at the dark-ink parts, they are perfectly identical. They may look like script, but they are printed. The only handwritten thing about these is the amount, payee, and signature.

So - it didn't happen. These aren't holographic. But they are my candidates for the strangest imprinted checks used during the 1898-1902 tax period.

What must the IRS Agent have thought when he received them for imprinting?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cancel for August 22: W. S. Keene


Walter S. Keene was a member of the Massachusetts legilature in 1900.  By 1902, his firm known as the W. S. Keene Leather Company in Boston would go bankrupt.  From the volume A Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators:

District No. 30. — Stoneham. — Walter S. Keene, Republican, was born in Palmyra, Me., Nov. 9, 1858; came to Massachusetts in 1878; educated in the public schools.  Is a sole leather merchant.  Member of the Republican town committee 12 years; of the Republican state central committee for 1900; of the Republican Club of Massachusetts and the Middlesex club.  Was a delegate to the Republican national convention at St Louis in 1896.  Member of the board of selectmen of Stoneham nine years, and five years as chairman; is now serving his fourth term as president of the Stoneham board of trade; a director of the Stoneham National Bank, and Stoneham Co-operative Bank. Holds membership in Masons, Odd Fellows, Red Men and Grange. Interested in farming. Comittee on banks and banking, and clerk of election laws in House of 1900.

Vote of district : Fred E. Buker, Socialist Labor, 182; Walter S. Keene,. Republican, 680; J. T. Nowell, Democrat, 163.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Battleship Revenues: Recent Updates to Bob Mustacich's Site

Bob's ongoing catalogue of railroad handstamp cancels on documentary battleships has just been updated, with many new examples of cancels.

I encourage you to visit his site, Battleship Revenues.

The site has been the primary home for the volume "Battleship Desk Reference", which is essential for proprietary handstamp cancel collectors on the battleships.  Bob's recent efforts have been focused on railroad documentary cancels. 

Examples of cancels posted to the site Battleship Revenues.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

William S. Alley

W. S. Alley

Dave Thompson scan

Here is another Dave Thompson cancel, this time associated with a remarkable and publicly told tragedy.  Thanks to Dave for digging up this article from The New York Times:

The New York Times, August 7, 1907:


Noted Broker and Clubman Shoots Himself in Larchmont Yacht Club.


But He Maintained Outwardly His Cheery Disposition to the Last -- One of the Club's Founders and a Wit.

The "Rocking Chair Fleet" on the plaza of the Larchmont Yacht Club, rocked away last night without its principal founder and chief member, its veritable Pooh Bah, William S. Alley.

Life at Larchmont, where Mr. Alley lived year around with his family, was placid and sweet.  His house was within the toss of a stone from the Sound, where, in his palmy days, his champion sloop, The Schemer, showed her neat lines to him from his own piazza of a morning.  But life in Wall Street, where Mr. Alley strove to increase his fortune, proved a tempest he could not weather.  His father before him, George B. Alley, had accumulated a large fortune, and had died after a successful life, leaving much wealth to his family.  But "Bill" alley, as his fellow-yachtsmen and the members of the "Rocking Chair" coterie knew him, hit the market at the wrong angle every time. 

Yesterday morning Wall Street heard that "Bill" Alley was dead.

"How?"  was asked by broker after broker, for all of them knew that he had been compelled to sacrifice his seat on the exchange, and that not only every dollar of his money was gone, but that he was also burdened with debt.

"Blew out his brains," was the reply of those who had come to town from Larchmont.  "In the club last night.  He slipped away from the crowd and finished it in a quiet corner."

Mr. Alley left his home, a short distance from the club, on Monday afternoon and spent the cool, early evening chatting with friends in the club and on the piazzas.  He appeared in good humor, and a number of his friends commented on his courage in standing up under the disasters he had met on the Street.  Then he excused himself, retired to a distant corner where no one could interfere with him, pulled a revolver from his pocket, and shot himself through the right temple.  He was still living when the club attendants and his friends reached him.  They hurried him to the New Rochelle Hospital, but he died there five minutes after he had been put to bed.

Although he appeared to be jovial at all times, some of his friends say that when he was suspended from the Exchange, because of a judgment obtained against him when his luck seemed hardest, he felt this keenly, and protested that an injustice had been done to him.  The judgment was settled and he was reinstated.  But another judgment was filed against him, and he was crowded close to the wall.  He sold his seat and filed a petition in bankruptcy.  He gave the proceeds of the sale of his seat to his creditors, whose claims amounted to $191,000, and then retired to an obscure desk in the office of a brokerage firm in Exchange Place.

Mr. Alley was one of four yachtmen who founded the Larchmont Yacht Club.  He drew up the by-laws and the constitution, and was the club's moving spirit in the early days.  His good nature, his wit, and his money made him a great favorite with the rich men who became members.  As long as fortune smiled on him he was the club's bright particular star.  Even when he disappeared from Wall Street to that obscure Exchange Place desk, where he dealt in outside securities, and even when his handsome home in Larchmont began to show the need of paint and was minus a butler, he was still welcome at the club. 

Yesterday, when a Times reporter called at his home to inquire about the manner of his death, the place seemed a typification of the end of its owner.  The lack of cash resources showed pathetically.  The houses adjoining were spick and span, with velvety lawns and well trimmed hedges and well kept paths.  The once bright abiding place of the popular yachtman "Bill" Alley showed the unmistakable sign of genteel poverty.  The father of The Larchmont Yacht Club, for he was credited for having been its founder, couldn't stand that sort of thing.  His two young sons, bright little chaps, were playing ball on the untrimmed lawn, not realizing their loss. 

The "Rocking Chair" coterie tell many good stories about their old chief chairman, for every member was, perforce, a chairman.  One of them shows how practical was his wit.  On ladies' day the club invariably suffered from the souvenir-appropriating craze.  Bric-a-brac and silver invariably disappeared on that day.  Finally the visitors began to take away small pictures with them, and the loss of one little masterpiece made the matter one for serious consideration.  It was left for Mr. Alley to put an end to this evil.  He did.  He inserted in a New York newspaper a notice that the Larchmont Yacht Club's members knew the person who had stolen the painting, and that unless it was returned, along with other things taken on that particular day, the names would be published.  The picture was returned immediately, together with a number of more or less valuable articles that had been carried away by souvenir the hunters.

Mr.  Alley became a member of the Stock Exhange in 1878.  He was founder of the firm Alley, Conger & Co., which was afterward dissolved, and then became the senior member of the firm of W. S. Alley & Co.  he is survived by his widow and two sons.  He was 55 years old. 

A report was current yesterday that Mr. Alley killed himself so that his widow could collect the $10,000 insurance gratuity which the Stock Exchange provides for its members.  Although Mr. Alley had sold his seat on the Exchange, the transfer of the seat had not been made.  The change in its possession will occurr tomorrow.  The funeral will be held probably on Friday, the Rev. Richard Cobden, Chaplain of the Larchmont Yacht Club, officiating.


The Larchmont Yacht Club still exists and remains prosperous to this day. However, the Club's website and history don't mention Mr. Alley and his work in founding the club.  Best to leave this unpleasantness behind? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Atlantic Mutual Insurance


1842 - 2011

David Thompson scan

Atlantic Mutual Insurance was liquidated earlier this year, after surviving nearly 170 years as a business.  The firm, which paid a $100,000 claim on the hull of the Titanic in 1912, could not survive a wave of workmen's compensation claims under commercial policies that the firm had sold years ago.  By 2010 New York State insurance regulators revoked Atlantic's licenses because of a negative surplus (an oxymoron if there ever was one). 

The above screen capture from the now defunct Atlantic Mutual Insurance website was taken by me when the first post on this company was published on this site a little over one year ago.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Printed Cancel Type I Varieties

Mr. Fullerton includes a no period variety after "Co" in his listing of type 1 CB&QRRs, but he does not list a two periods missing variety, one after the Co and one after the second R.  Here is an example of such a cancel and such a stamp.  This clearly deserves its own listing. 

It appears as if the periods are almost pushed into the neighboring letters, as the neighboring letters look overinked or somewhat bulbous in the region near where the period should be.  How could something like this have happened given the printing process used for these cancels?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chicago Burlington and Quincy Printed Cancel Type I Varieties

Here is an example of a flaw within a single letter, this time on the first R in the cancel.   These stamps were used only days apart, showing no longevity or persistence to the flaw, but the location and similarity of the flaw makes it clear that each of these stamps came from the same position on the cancelling plate.

JUN  21   1902

JUN  3 -  1902

I doubt whether this flaw or variety would deserve its own listing. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chicago Burlington and Quincy Printed Cancel Type I Varieties

Here is another apparently persistent variety of Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Type I printed cancels.  This example is not as dramatic as the variety in yesterday's post.  However, it is distinctive.  Both the second R and the C in Co are damaged in this variety, with the damage to the R changes over time in the examples below.

To review, the Fullerton List documents 3 types of printed cancels for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.  Over 200 type Is have recently been made available to me for inspection, and I've sifted through them for major varieties.  This post is part of a series examining those varieties.

The two of the three stamps below have been handstamp dated over a one year period.  Over this period the appearance of C having a neatly planed electro remains steady.


MAY  11   1901

Damaged right leg of R, apparently pushed to the left, with neatly planed off C in Co at bottom left.

Inscrutable date.

Bottom right leg of R has been shifted back to the right compared to the stamp above.  Planed C remains constant.

MAY  21  1902

Date one year later than first stamp above.  Damage similar to undated stamp.

Here is a new and unlisted variety by Fullerton with apparent persistence.  Here we have another collectable variety that might be included in a new list.

Chicago Burlington and Quincy Printed Cancel Type I Varieties

The Fullerton List lists 3 types of printed cancels for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.  Recently I've acquired a couple hundred or so Type Is.  Over 90% of these are hyphen perforated stamps, with a majority of those having handstamped dates from 1902. 

These have all been sorted and inspected for any major subtypes.  The most significant variety identified can be seen clearly in the two stamps below.  The variety is significant because of the extent of the damage to the letters C and B in the cancel, and even moreso due to the variety's persistence.

The stamp immediately below is from April 1901; the subsequent stamp is from May 1902.  The damage to the cancelling device for this position changes somewhat over the 13 month time, but it is clear that these two stamps were cancelled by the same position.  Of course the printing date does not necessarily correlate with the time these stamps were cancelled.  However, the CB&QRR was one of the largest users of printed cancels and it is unlikely that stocks of cancelled sheets stayed around for very long. 

C., B. & Q. R. R. Co.
APR  24  1901

Bottom and top of C damaged.  Though damaged, the top of C remains curved.  A bite out of the bottom loop of the B is damaged


C., B. & Q. R. R. Co.
MAY  29  1902

The condition of the B on this cancel is nearly identical to the stamp above this one.  The C, however, has changed over time.  The top of the C has straightened out and looks more like the Greek letter gamma, Γ.

Mr. Fullerton did not include this variety in his list.  In addition to these two stamps I have 5 more examples of the variety.  A future listing might include this variety.

Chicago Burlington and Quincy Printed Cancel Type I Varieties

This post adds to material in the first post on this variety with the damaged C and B.  These are the seven examples of this variety in my possession.  Click on the image for better viewing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Documentary Printed Cancels: Provident Savings Life Update

A visit to Northfield, Minnesota this summer to see Bob Hohertz led to the discovery of another Provident Savings Life printed cancel, this time on a 40 cent R170 that I had previously speculated might exist.  The 40 and 80 cent battleships were issued for insurance company use, and as Provident used printed cancels on the 80c R172, such a cancel was likely on the 40 cent stamp.  On the 40c the cancel is red, like it is on the dollar values.

Bob is a retired actuary, providing an ironic twist to finding this stamp in his collection.  An actuary named Sheppard Homans ran Provident Savings Life.  Mr. Homans developed the first actuarial table based on American death rates, and it was called the American Experience Table.  Bob told me that he used this table early in his career.

This is probably the third or fourth post with a mention of Provident Savings Life cancels.  Now the search for these cancels is getting very interesting, as there are now 4 known printed cancels as illustrated below plus a handstamp on the $5 value. 

If you have a stamp with a cancel like this in your collection on a value other than those illustrated below, please write to

R170 40 cent documentary

R172 80 cent documentary

R173 $1 commerce documentary

R174 $3 commerce documentary

R175 $5 commerce documentary

Bill Gross and the US National Debt

William Gross, one of the richest and best known American stamp collectors and a major named donor to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, wrote a very important OP-ED piece in the Washington Post three days ago.  His concluding paragraphs:

It is not the debt, however, but the lack of global aggregate demand that is at the heart of the crisis. As the entire world strives to put its own people to work before other nations do, policymakers constructively lower interest rates and delay sovereign, corporate and household defaults to provide breathing room. Fiscally, however, an anti-Keynesian, budget-balancing immediacy imparts a constrictive noose around whatever demand remains alive and kicking. Washington hassles over debt ceilings instead of job creation in the mistaken belief that a balanced budget will produce a balanced economy. It will not.

The president and Congress must recognize that an AA-plus country, to remain AA-plus, must focus on growth, not debt reduction, in the short term. We have a debt problem — but primarily a crisis of aggregate demand. A 21st-century Keynes would have recognized this and sounded the alarm, pointing out that policymakers from a fiscal perspective are pointing us toward recession and the destructive 1930s instead of a low-growth but still breathing U.S. economy of the 21st century.

The head of the world's largest bond fund puts the debt in its proper place.  All of our lawmakers should read his piece in the Washington Post.

Friday, August 12, 2011

1898 Revenues Greatest Hits: Graded Stamps

I haven't posted about graded stamps since 2009, but some of these old posts continue to receive reasonable amounts of traffic via Google.  So I thought I would review and link to the five posts on graded stamps, which still seem as relevant now as two years ago:

May 9, 2009:  Graded Stamps: Graded Revenues:  This post was the first on graded stamps.  I had started the site less than two months prior to this post, but the graded stamp phenomena was bothering me quite a bit back then.  This and the subsequent post were satirical; I hadn't yet decided to go directly at the marketing gimmick that is graded stamps for fear that I might offend all of philately.  After awhile I ceased to fear; now I don't care.

July 27, 2009: Graded Stamps: Degrade your collection with 1898 Revenues today!:  This was the second satirical post. 

November 28, 2009:  Graded Stamps: Perpetuating the Decline of Stamp Collecting:  This is the entry on the subject of graded stamps that has real substance, and the one that I like best.  It drew a long email from a dealer named Michael Casper who has become a major proponent of graded stamps.  His adverts in the new Scott Catalogue at the time had me particularly piqued and I couldn't help writing about them at the end of the post.  The post managed to draw his attention.

December 13, 2009:  Graded Stamps: Perpetuating the Decline of Stamp Collecting -- Absurd Valuations:  This one also drew the attention of a graded stamp promoter.  I had used, without permission, a scan of a used US C19 graded stamp that a dealer named Jerry Connolly was selling for $575.  Connolly had the stamp on his website and wrote about it.  The target was too fat not to go for, and I did.  Connolly found my post and asked me take the image down.  I did, but the words remain.

December 14, 2009:  Graded Stamps: Perpetuating the Decline of Stamp Collecting -- Top 20 Google Hits: This post was an immediate follow-up to the previous day's entry.  I was trying to get a handle on the promoters and naysayers of the graded stamp phenomena.  This was a first and last attempt.

Its been nearly two years and I haven't written anything on graded stamps since.  However, when the new Scott Specialized comes out it might be time once again.  Depending on the number and type of dealers advertising graded stamps, and the level at which the catalogue lists graded stamp prices, it may be time to return to the subject.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another Pacific States Telegraph Form

JW Palmer owns this example of a Pacific States Telephone Companies telegraph message form.  JW validates all of Frank's observations in the previous post.  The back of the form confirms this is a telegraph message. 

The message is a classic of the telegraph era:  "Come home immediately father is worse..."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Correction to the August 3 Post on the Telephone Tax: Frank Sente Keeps Us Honest

Last week it seems that I may have misinterepreted the guidance of Bob Patetta who submitted the forms below for publication on this site.  I characterized the forms as written phone messages to be delivered by hand.  Frank Sente, who has been off-line lately, responded with a rather healthy email explaining the error.  The email is a short lesson in tax philately, and deserves to be published.  So here it is, with a few edits: 

From Frank Sente:

1. If you read the fine print, both of these forms contain statements about the efficacy of having the receiving station "repeating a message back" to the sending station as being the only way of insuring against errors in transmission. This is standard classic telegraph jargon that appears, in one form or another, on the forms of all telegraph companies. And make no mistake Pacific States sent telegrams, it's real full name until after the 1984 Bell breakup was Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. 

2. Perhaps the most telling evidence however is how the payments are noted on each form. On the first one pictured (to Wellman Peck & Co.) the notation is 9 pd.; and on the one to the Well Fargo Express Agent, the notation reads 12 pd. These notations refer to the number of words in the respective messages which is how the cost of TELEGRAMS was computed. (NOTE: on the second message, the number "372 1/2" counts as four words as each integer had to be spelled out). The price of telephone calls was based upon the destination and duration of the call, not the number of words spoken.

3. The war law specifically required companies providing phone service to pay the tax month by direct remittance to their respective district collector of internal revenue. A sworn statement tallying the number of calls billed at 15 cents or more was required with each payment. I find no reference in any of the subsequent Commissioner Decisions altering this requirment or providing for any alternative method of payment of the phone tax.

At the risk of having you find an example before I do; here's what we should be looking for: Regular individual phone bills from the period July 1 1898 - June 30, 1902 that might itemized a long distance call costing more than 15 cents as I'm sure phone companies passed on the tax to their customers. I have some individual monthly telephone bills from that period, but can't find the right now either (I suspect when I do I'll find my Pacific States document as well). Anyway all the tlephone bills I have are for normal regular service. I'm hoping to find one that shows an an itemized long distance call of more than 15 cents, the taxation threshold, as I suspect there also will be a notation like "IR tax 1 cent" or "war tax 1 cent" appended to the bill.

4. So why do the forms read "Pacific States Telephone Companies"? I believe the firm did this as a means promoting its new-fangled phone service as a better alternative to old fashioned telerams. Why would they otherwise have included the promotional advertisement at the bottom of the form that reads,


I can easily visualize customers now walking out of the Pacific States telegraph office with their telegraph despatch receipt in hand, muttering, "Hmm. Maybe I should look into getting one of them phone box things. At least then I'd know my message got delivered and I'd have a response as well."

Hope this makes sense. I do wish you were correct, but these are nothing more than telegraph despatch receipts.
Frank, thanks for letting me borrow your words without prior permission.

Monday, August 8, 2011

1898 Revenues. 2011 Revenues?

The United States has the lowest tax rates it has had in generations, and one of the lowest effective tax burdens in the world of developed economies.  The democracy of our great country is hamstrung by a small group of wild-eyed zealots, bound by signed documents thrust in front of them by Grover Norquist, who has never had the responsibility for the budget and the welfare of any citizen of any country anywhere in the world.

Yet here we are, an S&P downgrade only 1 business day past, and the stock market is in free fall.  For all the so-called conservatives that have pushed this absurd brinkmanship policy to test whether the US should default on its debt, I doubt one has noticed where all the money has been going that is running out of stocks.  Look at the price of US Treasury Bonds.  The yields are going down.  Investors and the market are running to US Government debt for safety and to reduce risk. 

Ponder the irony.  The capital markets are spooked by the downgrade, brought on by the dysfunction of our democracy and the willingness to play chicken with our debts.  However, capital doesn't yet actually fear the size and scope of the total debt at present.  Treasuries remain a preferred safe haven.  I believe the reason for this is that the market understands that the US has enormous and elastic capacity to actually pay off that debt if it chooses to, and in such a way that additional revenue collection threatens little the economy's future capacity to grow or produce jobs.

But those that push an aggressive and no-prisoners anti-tax policy do so with a faith-based conviction.  That there was no US deficit in 2000, and the 30 year long bond had been retired, and that our economy had been experiencing years of growth, is of little consequence to them.  Massive tax cuts were put in place, and the deficit came back.  And despite the tax cuts, our economy, and the world economy, has suffered the greatest setbacks since the Great Depression.  The revenue decline has done little to stimulate jobs.  The withering truth that neither the tax cuts or the presence of deficit raising stimulus packages has not bailed us out of our economic problems is not important to faith-based thinkers. 

If the debt matters, get it down.  Capital doesn't fear new revenue.  Our policy makers have options.  The left, and American society as a whole, needs to come to terms with unaffordable entitlement programs.  Nothing should be untouchable, including defense.  But as wingers draw their lines in the sand, increasing taxes, while decreasing defense and entitlement spending all become off limits.  These times require the moderates and compromisers to rise to the top and put some sense back into the equation of our national budget process.