Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ouch! Ouch! A Deed Taxed Twice!

I like documents that bear combination usages; the more stamps the better! This one came in a job lot of stamped deeds purchased on eBay and actually it wasn't the main reason I bought the lot.  Happily though, it was included as it demonstrates a fine point about the 1898 tax law.

$400 Deed for Property in Deer Lodge, Montana
May 8, 1899 

It wasn't until I was sorting through the lot that I noticed that this deed seemed to be taxed incorrectly.  As I've explained in prior blogs, the tax on conveyances was 50 cents for property valued from $100 to $500, and 50 cents for each additional $500 in value.  As this deed bore a total of $1.00 in tax stamps one would have expected the property being conveyed to have a value of between $500 and $1, 000, but instead the sale price was just $400.   At $400 it should only have been taxed 50 cents, not $1.00.

Hmmm!  That incongruity made me look more closely at both the deed and the stamps.  I noticed almost immediately that the upper two R169 25 cent battleships were a joined pair with the bottom single 25 cent stamp slightly overlapping them.  And the twelve R164 2 cent stamps plus the 1-cent I.R. overprint issue add up to another 25 cents.

$1.00 tax paid by
three 25-cent, twelve 2-cent, and one 1-cent stamps
all initialed 
After reading the deed, it all began to make sense.  One Kate Hartlee is selling two lots in Deer Lodge Montana to C.G. Glass and J.H. Meyers.  I'll skip the boilerplate and go straight to the description:
    "Lots numbered nineteen (19) and twenty (20) in Block numbered twenty (20) of the original townsite of Deer Lodge Montana according to the official plat and survey on file in the office of Clerk and Recorder of said Deer Lodge County, Montana.
      It is understood by and between the parties to this instrument and deed, that the grantor hereby conveys unto each of said grantees an undivided one-half interest (my emphasis) in and to the said Lots 19 & 20 in Block 20 in the town and county of Deer Lodge Montana."
I can almost hear the justice of the peace before whom Kate Hartlee appeared to both sign and affirm the document: 
"...Ah, well, hmmm, you know Kate , the way you have written up this here deed you've got two separate transactions going on and...well...ah... I think to be completely legal we have to tax each of them as separate transactions"    
I may have unfairly put words in the mouth of the JP, but all of this does serve to illustrates the fine point that the documentary War Taxes were not levied against actual documents, but rather the transactions represented by or within those documents.  While there was but one deed, it represented two separate conveyances, each of which was subject to tax.  And the appropriate tax for two sales of property at $200 each would have been $1.00.
Back to the stamps.  I'm guessing the pair of 25-cent R169 battleships originally was affixed with the expectation that only 50 cents was going to be required, but when it instead was discovered that an additional 50 cents was required, and only one additional 25 cent stamp was at hand the parties scrounged up more commonly available 2 cent and 1 cent stamps to pay the remaining balance due.  Regardless of exactly how it all came about, it's an interesting document and a welcome addition to my collection.                  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Boston Stock Brokes: E. D. Bangs & Company

President of the Boston Stock Exchange when he died in 1900


David Thompson scan

Mr. Bangs died in a gruesome manner.  The New York Times of September 20, 1900 explained:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hays Brothers, Waco, Texas

Hays Bros.
Waco, Texas.

Langlois scan

Hays Brothers, run by Bowden Hays, apparently dealt in real estate.  Bowden Hays' son, Bowden Jr. is reported to have been quite a Klansman, having been arrested with two fellow members of the KKK for tarring and feathering an "undesirable" in Waco. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Conveyance Taxed $1,100 - Sale of the Parsons Paper Company

Yesterday we blogged about a bill of sale for the conveyance of some Indian Territory property that was sold for just $15 and taxed just 10 cents.

Today we consider the 1899 sale of the Parsons Paper Company, Holyoke, Massachusetts, the conveyance tax on which totaled a whopping $1,100!  Given that the tax on conveyances was 50 cents for property valued from $100 to $500 and an additional 50 cents for each additional $500 in value infers the Parsons company and property were valued at $1.1 million, although the sale price on the deed is given as " consideration of One Dollar and other valuable considerations..."  

Even if property was given away, as with a quit-claim deed, the transaction, i.e. the conveyance of the property, was taxed at the property's real value.     

Deed to the Parsons Paper Company
Holyoke, Massachusetts
June 26, 1899

The deed was not recorded by the Hampden County Register of Deeds until a month later on July 26, 1899, a week after Aaron and Edward Bagg personally appeared before a justice of the peace on July 19 to have the document and their signatures certified. 

The $100 R179 and the pair of $500 R180 tax stamps are dated July 25, 1899.  The purchaser, the American Writing Paper Company, a newly incorporated price-controlling trust coalition of thirty-two paper mills located in five states, paid the conveyance tax as each of the stamps bears a rubber handstamp cancel with the initials, Am. W. P. Co., plus the month and an abbreviated year date, JULY '99, prefixed with the exact July date, 25, in pen.  Usually, high value stamps also have cut-cancels, as an added security measure to prevent their reuse, but these stamps are all uncut. 

This document brings to five, the number of on-document usages of the $500 Alexander Hamilton Portrait Documentary issue, this being the sole reported usage of a pair.       

Am. W. P. Co.
25 JULY '99

Conveyances are of particular interest because the tax levied upon them was based upon the value of the transaction rather than a flat fee as was the case for many transactions such as for checks, bills of lading, and numerous other taxed transactions.  So we see conveyance transactions taxed from ten cents to more than $1,000.  And deeds are fairly common as they were kept as important estate documents, not generally disposed of as were many other documents whose relevance or value did not continue beyond the completion of the transaction.

Parsons Paper Mill #2 @ 1899

The Parsons Paper was founded in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1853 by Joseph Clark Parsons.  Within a decade Parsons was the largest writing paper and envelope company in the country and Holyoke had become "The Paper City."  To read a brief history of the company visit this link to the Holyoke Public Library's online exhibit gallery.  The firm closed in 2005 and facility destroyed by an arson fire in 2008.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Conveyance Taxed Just 10 Cents

The War Revenue Law prescribed a 50 cent tax on the conveyance of property valued from $100 to $500 plus 50 cents for each additional $500 in value.  So how was property valued at less than $100 treated?

 Bill of Sale
For Land Parcel Valued at $15 in
Westville, Cherokee Nation, Northern District, Indian Territory
May 3, 1900
Although the 1898 Law act did not specifically address the sale or conveyance of property valued at less than $100, as illustrated by this bill of sale documenting the sale of Lot 6 in Block 42 in the town of Westville, Indian Territory, such conveyances were taxed 10 cents under the Law's catchall provision that required any legal certificate, not otherwise specified in the Act, to be taxed a flat 10 cents.
Bill of Sale
Mary E. Nummy to E. K. Manning
stamps initialed
E. K. M.

The property located in Westville, and bordered by Cherokee, Railroad, Locust, and Delaware streets, was sold for $15 via a bill of sale and the 10 cent tax paid with five copies of the 2 cent, R164 documentary issue.  The form is pre-printed, so these property bills of sale must have been common transactions in the town of Westville and presumably elsewhere.  And while termed a Bill of Sale, it reads like a Deed, i.e. " hereby give, grant, bargain, sell, convey, and quit-claim....." 

It appears the intent of the Law was to require all conveyances of property be taxed, but to restrict the higher rate to property valued at a minimum of $100 and to limit the tax on property valued at less than $100.

A google satellite view shows that today, the lot appears to accommodate three residences plus some outbuildings.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New York Stock Brokers: Wasserman Brothers




W BROS die cut cancels above and below


Wasserman Brothers memorandum of sale for 300 shares of the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Each two dollar stamp paid for the sale of 100 shares of stock.

New York Stock Brokers: Turner, Manuel & Company

N. Y.

David Thompson scan & highlight

Archibald Turner was the founding and senior partner in the firm Turner, Manuel:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Imperial Soap Company

Where is Imperial Soap Company? 

As the out of copyright material of libraries and other collections is rapidly digitized by Google, Microsoft and others, there are few individuals or companies of note from the 1898 tax period for which some sort of information or history cannot be found.  This web site emerged in early 2009 as digitization was gathering steam, and we've managed to take advantage of the ever increasing amounts of late 19th and early 20th century data to conduct cancel research.

Chappell/Joyce and other have identified the stamp with the rosette cancels below as that of the Imperial Soap Company of Boston.  The company's cancels, especially the one below, are hard to miss, and Imperial, by virtue of the types of cancels they were alleged to have used on their stamps, must have been a firm with some size.  Yet despite the trove of information available on the web, I can find nothing about the Imperial Soap Company of Boston.  Where in history did this company go? 

Most of the hits returned by Google for Imperial Soap Company today refer to firms having nothing to do with the 1898 Boston version of the firm, or refer to examples of the stamps you see above and below on various philatelic web sites.  So, if anybody knows anything about this firm, I would appreciate an email from you at

Another issue has to do with the printed "cancels".  The cancels labeled type 2 & 3 below do not comply in any way with the rule regarding firm ID and date in the cancel.  Type 1 has the information, but just what was the company up to with the rosettes and the waves printed on the examples below?

In the recently mailed out edition of The American Revenuer, Ron Lesher unveils a cancel misidentified by our ancestors in the hobby, including Henry Tolman and Morton Dean Joyce.  This site has made similar discoveries of previously errant identifications.  Is Tolman's page correct or are their identification issues with these very distinct cancels?

Below:  Henry Tolman's Imperial Soap Company collection, containing a straight line handstamp, three printed cancel types and an unlisted printed cancel.

Imperial Soap Co., Boston.
MAR 13  1899

Printed cancel type 1:
I. S. C.

Printed cancel type 2:
2 red rosettes, unlisted by Chappell/Joyce

Printed cancel type 3: 

Unlisted printed cancel - is this an Imperial Soap Company cancel?  Tolman mounted this stamp on his Imperial page.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New York Stock Brokers: Cuyler, Morgan & Company

1901 Poor's Manual advertisement

N. Y.

David Thompson scan & highlight

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

First National Bank, Moravia, New York

F. N. B.

David Thompson scan and highlight

National bank note issued by The First National Bank of Moravia, series 1925

Insurance Companies: W. Fitts & Company

 ?. W. FITTS & CO.

Any information on a "?  W. Fitts & Co. Insurance"  would be appreciated.  If you know anything about this firm, please write to

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A. B. Parmelee & Son, Malone, New York

Back in May, 2010, I posted the copy of R184 below with the "A. B. P. & Son" cancel, listing the initials as unknown.  The mystery was solved a few weeks later when a comment was placed by the Historian of Franklin County, New York -- more below.  In the years since May 2010, Bart Rosenberg sent in the scan of the 25c battleship with an A. B. P. & Son cancel.  So here is a reprise of the copy of R184 with Bart's stamp, and the comments of the Franklin County Historian:

A. B. P. & Son.,
Malone, N. Y.

Bart Rosenberg scan

A. B. P. & Son.,
Malone,  N. Y.

Langlois scan

"I think the "A.B.P. & Son" is A.B. Parmelee & Son, a business operating in Franklin County, NY at that time. A.B. Parmelee was the son of pioneer preacher Rev. Ashbel Parmelee, who was the first settled clergy in Franklin County and the founding pastor of First Congregational Church of Malone. A.B. Parmelee and his son Morton S. Parmelee ran logging and lumbering operations, mills, and engaged in land parceling and development. A.B. Parmelee was the uncle of U.S. Congressman Ashbel Parmelee Fitch.

Anne Werley Smallman
Executive Director
Franklin County Historical & Museum Society
Malone, NY

Reverend Ashbel Parmelee

The Rev. Ashbel Parmelee was the leading abolitionist in Malone. He was the pastor of the First Congregational Church, a documented site on the New York Underground Railroad Heritage Trail, where anti-slavery meetings were held and where it is believed fugitive slaves were secreted in the basement.  From the website of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association.

Monday, February 11, 2013

New York Stock Brokers: Gilbert & Lewis


Memorandum of sale for 100 shares of American Elevator from Gilbert & Lewis to Britton & Fiero @28.125.

Edward L. Gilbert, the head of Gilbert & Lewis, acquired his NYSE seat after the end of the 1898 tax period.  The New York Times, July 13, 1902:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

On Beyond Holcombe....

returns next Sunday when your editor gets his act together.

Another Port Costa Warehouse Related Document

The subject line of the email read, "You're going to love this."  At first I figured it was going to be some funny video or just more of the politically incorrect humor that seems invade everyone's mail box.

Then I saw it was from fellow 1898 revenue collector Bob Patetta who often has contributed scans of documents in support of my posts on 1898 Revenues.  Bob had just read my recent post about the Port Costa Warehouse Storage Receipt and was sending a scan of another document related to G. W. McNear's Port Costa operations.  He was right, I loved it and I hope others will appreciate seeing it too.

G. W. McNear Company Pay Voucher
Port Costa Warehouse June 4, 1898
JUL 12 1898
Bob Patetta scan

This looks like a check and acts like a check, but instead it's an internal company pay voucher.  And it serves to confirm that Port Costa, at this time, essentially was G. W. McNear's company town!

When Port Costa was established in 1879 as the landing site for the railroad ferry Solarno, owned and operated by the Central Pacific Railroad, McNear bought much of the surrounding land and moved his grain warehousing/shipping operation there.  From his large land holding he laid out the town of Port Costa, donated land for a church, and founded the Port Costa Water Company mentioned on this pay voucher.

According an online biography, "...In addition to the business conducted as George W. McNear, Inc., Mr. McNear had other extensive financial and commercial associations. He promoted and was the president of the first electric street railroad, operated in the city of Oakland, and was also president of the First National Bank of that city. He also had extensive interests in Port Costa, being president of the Port Costa Water Company and Port Costa Milling Company....." 

McNear also reportedly owned and operated more than 1000 acres of wheatland in various locations in California. And, although I have been unable to find specific reference to any mining operation, that the payee on the pay voucher shown above was a miner, suggests McNear must also have had some mining interests. 

Looking closer at the voucher we see that it is payable by G. W. McNear, 326 California Street, San Francisco, one of McNear's known business addresses.  It reads,  
 Please pay Jno. Ganoque or order
Thirty seven and 50/100 Dollars  
due him for services during the month of May 1898 
and charge to account of Port Costa Water Co.
Worked as Miner 

That's classic text for a company pay voucher.  Vouchers were commonly used to effect safe payments to employees of ranching and mining operations.  Rather than receiving a cash payment out on the range or at a remote mining site, an employee got a voucher signed by a local supervisor that they could turn in for payment when they next got to town.  

In this case it appears Jno. Ganoque either transferred or perhaps sold his voucher to another party who in turn may have transferred or sold it to yet another party before it was presented for payment, as two endorsement signatures appear on the back.  Bob suggests that the payee Jno. Ganoque and Giovanni Ginocchio, whose signature appears first actually may be the same person. Given how immigrants' names often were treated at this time, he may well be right.

cropped scan of reverse showing endosement signatures
Giovanni Ginocchio
E. Bertrandis 

We'll likely never know for sure, but the signature of E. Bertrandis clearly makes it a three party payment and that additional third party transaction resulted in it being taxed. 

As it was written on June 4, 1898, had it been presented for payment by anyone prior to July 1, 1898, the day the War Revenue Law of 1898 took effect it would have avoided taxation.  But it wasn't paid until July 12, 1898 although had Jno. Ganoque personally presented it for payment on that date, it still would not have been taxed as internal company pay vouchers were exempt from taxation provided the payment was effected directly to the payee.  In this instance, the prior transfer to a third party invoked the two-cent check tax as that was considered a separate "order" for payment, a taxable event. 

The tax was paid by two R153s, the small I.R. overprinted one-cent Franklin definitive of 1897-1903 lightly tied to the voucher by faint illegible, but visible, green circular datestamps.  Their use adds significant interest to this document because, as noted in Bob Hohertz's article, "Where was R153 used?", in the May/June 2008 issue of The American Revenuer, on document usages of R153 are very uncommon!  Other usages from California, including another usage from San Francisco certainly help confirm their legitimate usage on this most interesting document. 

Thanks, Bob for providing yet another fascinating document.         

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What Are The Odds? Not One, But Two $3 R183 On-Document Usages

Between us, my good friend J. W. Palmer and I have been searching for an on-document usage of the $3 Lake Commerce Issue of 1900 for more than 50 years.  I know several other 1898 tax era document collectors who also have been searching for such a usage.  Happily the quest is over, at least for Palmer and me, as we BOTH found usage examples on eBay within a month of each other last Fall.  To date they are the only reported on-document usages of this stamp.

The lake-colored $3 R183 by itself is not an inexpensive stamp.  In Scott's U.S. Specialized Catalogue it lists for $275 in mint condition and $52.50 in used condition.  For Palmer and me to find on-document usage examples -- what's the word they use in those Visa commercials -- PRICELESS! 

  $3,500 Warranty Deed
Property in Indianapolis, Indiana
February 25, 1901
My find came first, in a job lot of 11 deeds, only two of which bore stamps.  I almost went by it as I scrolled through some search listings.  In the small photo I could see one deed just had a 50-cent R171 battleship stamp on it and I figured the red stamp on this deed was probably just the more common $1 carmine R182 Commerce Issue.  Luckily, after scrolling through a few more listings, I decided I should go back and take a closer look.  Boy, was I ever glad I did! When I saw it was a $3 stamp, I recall jerking forward to within inches of my computer screen in shocked disbelief  to take a closer look to make sure it really was a $3 stamp!  Wow, yes, it was!  And the week long wait to see if anyone else had found it seemed an eternity.
The tax on deed transfers at this time was 50 cents for property valued from $100 to $500 and 50 cents for each additional $500 in value.  So the proper tax on a deed documenting the sale of a $3,500 property was $3.50, paid here with the $3 R183 and a 50 cent R171.  Usually collectors try to avoid stamps with cut cancels, but I'm happy these have them as the pen cancels don't "tie" them to the document, but the cut cancels, which extend through the document itself, do so.
pencancel on both stamps reads:
P.(auline) E.(dgarton)
double-click image to enlarge

Amazingly Palmer found another R183 usage example, again on eBay, just a couple of weeks later!  

$3,000 Warranty Deed
Property in Hyde Park, Kansas City, Missouri
March 14, 1901
J. W. Palmer scan

pencancel reads:
H.(ugh) J. M.(cGowan)
Mrh. 14,

Palmer's find also appears on a warranty deed, in this instance a nice single stamp usage properly paying the $3 tax on a property that sold for $3,000.  Like me, he almost missed this lot as the seller had cropped the listing photo to zoom in on just the stamp, so anyone scrolling rapidly through listing results could easily have mistaken it as just a listing of a used stamp.  I missed it for that reason, but Palmer, either with more patience or better eyesight, or both, caught a glimpse of paper around the stamp as he scrolled through his search listings.  He though had missed the listing I had found.  

J. W. and I periodically check what each other has bought on eBay.  When I noted he too had been fortunate to find this R183 usage, I called to congratulate him as it was a significant find; I also wanted to let him know I had recently found one too.  "Yeah", he said, "I saw you had found one and was going to call, just hadn't gotten around to it."  We chatted about how easy it is to miss items because of how sellers choose to picture, describe, and list items; we both have been lucky to find 1898 revenue material in obscure eBay categories, or that has otherwise been poorly described or pictured.

Both Palmer and I periodically exhibit our 1898 material at stampshows. We laughed about how unassuming and vanilla-looking these deeds appear.  Neither document is ornate like an engraved stock certificate, nor do they include an unusual mixture of stamps, or bear colorful cancels.  Quite frankly, they look pretty bland on exhibit pages, just as they do in this blog.

We discussed the difficulty of highlighting their significance in an exhibit; especially how hard it is, even with carefully worded title pages and exhibit synopses, to convey their importance to exhibit judges who, to be fair, could just as easily overlook them as they scroll across one's exhibit pages, as we each did when reviewing eBay listings.   Yes, one can stategically place an item within an exhibit frame and include a note like, "One of two known" on the page, but they are just common deeds after all, albeit with uncommon usages of an uncommon stamp.  

We talked about how long we each had been looking for such a usage knowing that none of the major revenue dealers had ever handled one.  We simply were amazed that we each had been fortunate to find one within a month of each other.  What are the odds, indeed? Yup, that was a pun.

We're beginning to do usage censuses for some of the lesser known 1898 tax era on-document stamp usages and for some lesser known types of documents, like ocean passage tickets, so if anyone can report another R183 on-document usage please contact us, with scans if possible, at

We'll discuss some other interesting deeds in upcoming blogs.       

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New York Stock Brokers: H. Knickerbacker & Company


Langlois scan

Henry Knickerbacker died in 1897, leaving Robert Gibson as the male NYSE seat holder of the firm during the 1898 tax period.  He had his picture taken for the volume "King's Views of the New York Stock Exchange".  However, Henry's wife, Helen, is reported to have taken over Henry's seat on the exchange and was Mr. Gibson's partner in the firm, but her picture does not appear in Kings.  In fact, there is not a picture of a single woman anywhere in the 1897 book.