Sunday, September 28, 2014

Documentary Printed Cancels: Is the C.E.C. Found on Half Cent Gray Documentaries a Charles E. Cornell Printed Cancel?

Yesterday I posted stamps canceled by Dr. Fahrney & Son, a proprietary medicine company based in Maryland.  Dr. Fahrney used printed cancels on the 5/8c proprietary and 1/2c documentaries.  Today is presented Charles E. Cornell, who used printed cancels on the 5/8c proprietary, and, if the initials are any indication, on the 1/2c documentary as well.  Additional confirmation is needed for the 1/2c documentaries, as all we have is a match with the initials, C.E.C., though not the type font.  Courtesy of Frank Sente, we have multiple examples of the 1/2c documentary.

Based in New York, Charles E. Cornell made a variety of soaps and skin products.  

C.  E.  C.
August,   1899

Langlois scan, ex-Tolman

Below are three examples of 1/2c documentaries with August 6 1900 dates and C. E. C. printed cancels.  Are these by Charles E. Cornell?:

C.  E.  C.
Aug.  6th  1900

Langlois scan

C.  E.  C.
Aug.  6th  1900

Sente scan

C.  E.  C.
Aug  6th  1900

Sente scan

Sometime ago, Frank Sente sent the stamp above with an off-center C.E.C. cancel that includes perpendicular to the stamp printed letters at the upper right.  He offered the following comments in an email:  

"I have a gray 1/2 cent documentary with what I believe is a printed cancel that also bears some extraneous printing on it. I always figured it had been placed on the document BEFORE it was printed and picked up some of the printing either because it wasn't properly placed on the document to begin with, or the printing went a bit askew.  Look at the upper right corner of the right of the R162, 1/2 cent just above. See the extraneous lettering? Another stamp with presumably printed C. E. C.cancel is provided for comparison. Puzzling n'est-ce pas??

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Documentary Printed Cancels: Dr. Fahrney & Son

Dr Fahrney's shop window display
Library of Congress 

Dr. Fahrney, like Mrs. Winslow, liked to make medicine from morphine.  One of the pusher's, excuse me, Doctor's, favorite active ingredients was morphine.  And the company put it in products like Dr. Fahrney's teething syrup.  Nothing like a 2 year old junkie.  The 1898 tax period became a peak period for these companies, just before the crash induced by the progressive era and pure food and drug laws.

We are now left with the remnants of these companies.  Bottle collectors that contained these nostrums stay busy with Dr. Fahrney & Son's material.  And revenue collectors the same.  In the case we have today, Frank Sente and Ron Lesher sent in scans of Dr. Fahrney cancels.  The 5/8 cent stamp immediately below would be expected: a proprietary stamp that was used on a proprietary medicine bottle.  But below the proprietary stamp is Ron Lesher's find of a 1/2 cent documentary stamp with a similar Dr. Fahrney cancel.

Dr. Fahrney & Son
2 23 1899.
Hagerstown,  Md.

Sente scan

Dr. Fahrney & Son
8  9  1900
Hagerstown,  Md.

Lesher scan

Why did Dr. Fahrney produce printed cancels on 1/2c documentaries?  One theory is that they might have been used on combination with 1/8c proprietary stamps to produce a 5/8 cent total.  Whatever the case, we now have another documentary printed cancel, and one that joins the series that includes stamps canceled by proprietary medicine companies.  

In the coming day, there will be a post on Charles E. Cornell, who also used printed cancels on 5/8 cent stamps, and appears to have done the same on 1/2 cent documentaries.

Thanks to Frank and Ron for sending these scans several years ago.  I finally pulled them out of the warehouse after matching the C.E.C. proprietary and documentary cancels for Charles Cornell, and I figure we might have a pattern of some kind.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Industrial Cancels: Standard Varnish Works

Standard Varnish Works was establish on Staten Island, New York.  David Thompson sent a scan of the 2 cent documentary below with a Standard Varnish cancel:

N.  Y.

 From the website of the New York City Land Preservation Commission:


The Standard Varnish Works factory is a rare surviving example of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century industrial history of Staten Island. The Standard Varnish Works Company purchased property along the Elm Park waterfront on both sides of Richmond Terrace in 1892-93 and, shortly after, constructed a factory complex and worker housing, moving its factory operations from Long Island. The office building, which fronts Richmond Terrace, is an example of the American round-arch factory style and also incorporates details of late nineteenth century German factory design. The trademarks of nineteenth century factory design which still define this building today, are the prominent tower and corbelled brick ornament, which create interest through utilitarian decorative details. The projecting brick pilasters, also common factory features, are decorative as well as functional, adding texture to the fa├žade and providing additional support for the interior framing. The buildings lining the Richmond Terrace streetwall escaped damage in a “spectacular” fire that caused approximately $200,000 worth of damage to the site in 1900, destroying the dock, gutting storage buildings and exploding several chemical storage tanks.

Some of the success of the company can be attributed to an advantage of the Elm Park site, the close proximity to two modes of transportation, water via the factory’s own dock on the Kill Van Kull and rail via the station located just blocks away. At one time, Standard Varnish Works was one of the largest manufacturers of varnish and enamel in the world, with a seven-acre, forty-five building Staten Island plant, as well as offices or factories in Chicago, Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Barcelona and Linden, NJ. In 1926, the company merged with Toch Brothers Inc, operating under the name Standard-Toch Chemical Company Inc. In 1961, Montgomery Ward & Co. mail order purchased the firm and managed it as a subsidiary under the name Standard T Chemicals.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chicago Livestock Commission Company

Column advertisement, San Antonio Daily Express May 25, 1899


Monday, September 15, 2014

Steamship Company Cancels: The White Star Line

The American, Great Lakes-bound White Star Line Steamer Tashmoo

APR  16  1902

David Thompson scan

Stamp almost certainly used for passage on the Tashmoo for a ticket of $30 or less.

Steamer Tashmoo pulling away from the wharf

From Midwest Boat and Recreation, by Dale Blanshan. January 2014:

In 1912, the British White Star Line ruled the oceans with the great Titanic.  At the same time, another White Star Line -- this one American -- ruled the Great Lakes with the elegant Tashmoo.  The Titanic's reign lasted for four days.  The Tashmoo sailed for 36 years.

By the end of the nineteenth century, steamship lines on the Great Lakes were taking on another kind of passenger, the excursion boater.  Some travelers wanted luxurious transportation to the resorts that dotted the shores of the Great Lakes.  For others, the ships themselves were the resorts.

To meet that demand, the White Star Line commissioned the Tashmoo.  Launched in December of 1899 at Wyandotte, Michigan, the Tashmoo was 308 feet long and 37 feet abeam, with a gross tonnage of 1,344.

She was fitted with every luxury.  Two grand pianos graced her main salon, and expensive carpeting and polished mahogany furnished her decks.  Six hundred windows afforded passengers unobstructed views of the shore, earning the Tashmoo the nickname "The Glass Hack."

Passengers could picnic on the decks for lunch, watch the shoreline lazily pass in the afternoon, dine in "New York style" restaurants for dinner, and dance to a live band in the evening.

On June 11, 1900, the Tashmoo took on its first customers.  Within three months, she took on her first major challenge.

Races between rival steamships were exciting events.  In September of 1900, a ship called the City of Chicago won such a race, whereupon a Detroit newspaper published an article naming ten boats that it believed to be faster than the City of Chicago.

The Tashmoo was not on the list, prompting the president of the White Star Line to issue his own challenge, offering $1,000 to any freshwater ship that beat the Tashmoo.  The owners of the City of Erie accepted the challenge.

The race was to be 94 miles in length, from Cleveland, Ohio, to Erie, Pennsylvania.  Boats filled the Cleveland harbor, and spectators lined the shore. A cannon boomed, and the race was on!

The City of Erie jumped out to an early lead, but the Tashmoo caught and passed her.  Mechanical and steering problems put the Tashmoo behind again.

However, by the time the finish line was in sight, she was closing quickly.

Nonetheless, the gap was too great.  The Tashmoo finished 45 seconds behind.

Another great moment for the Tashmoo was the 1902 visit of President Theodore Roosevelt to Detroit.  For an afternoon, the President's blue and gold flag flew over the Tashmoo as the President toured the waterfront.

The Tashmoo came to its end in 1936 when, in the course of a turn, she struck a rock.  The captain was able to bring the ship to a nearby dock so that passengers could disembark before the Tashmoo  settled in 14 feet of water.

A salvage crew accidentally raised one end of the ship too quickly, and her keel broke.

The Tashmoo would never again sail the Great Lakes waters.


The Historic Detroit website has a great feature on the Tashmoo.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Steamship Company Cancels: Boston & Philadelphia Steamship Company

Boston & Philadelphia Steamship Line
Steamship Saxon

The company hedged on the reliability of steam power with the Saxon by running both steam power and sails. 

R163 1c documentary battleship on steam ship document fragment
"PHILADELPHIA" can be made out under the upper left corner of the stamp

B. & P. S. S. CO.
*  *  *

From The Historical Dictionary of the US Maritime Industry, 2011, by Kenneth Blume: 

I recommend this book for anyone research shipping cancels.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cancel Identification Help: Y. S. R. R.

Help is needed identifying the cancel below.  Almost certainly by a railroad, except that a search of Poor's Manual editions of the period don't yield a likely candidate.  If you have any ideas or are certain of the identity of the cancel, please write

Y. S. R. R.

David Thompson scan and highlight

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Florin Benedict Had Issues Getting to School as a Child

According to David Thompson, Mr. Florin Benedict was a Justice of the Peace for Winchester, Litchfield County, Connecticut.  But as a child he went to school in nearby Winsted, Connecticut. David couldn't find much information about Mr. Benedict, and neither could I. Yet from the stamp below with his name on it, we can guess that he probably dealt in insurance of some kind, as most of the 1/2 cent documentaries were used for insurance taxes.


David Thompson scan and highlight

But I did find one very personal item about Mr. Benedict at the website of the Colebrook Historical Society.  Colebrook is about six miles north of Winsted.  And the Colebrook Historical Society has preserved a few public records, one of which tells us that when Master Florin Benedict was a school boy, he managed in one academic period of 79 days to be tardy for 6 and absent for 25.  Either he was something of a truant, he was sick often, or more likely, there were lots of things to do at home to keep things running.  I prefer to believe the latter, and that the farm work just had to be done.

From the records of the Colebrook Historical Society, Florin's name was in a list of many other boys that I did not paste into this post:

1872 to 1874 (As per a note attached written by Homer P. Deming dated 1948.)

Attendance Record

BOYS                       Tardy       No. Days Attendance (of 79)

Florin Benedict        6               54

No. Boys 27

Wages of Teacher $56.00

Whole No. of Scholars 40

Aggregate Attendance 2660 Days

Length of School – 16 Weeks (80 Days)

No. Scholars Over 16 – 9 (Boys 6; Girls 3) 

Friday, September 5, 2014

New York Stock Brokers: Drake, Mastin & Company


David Thompson scan

During the down months for this website, long time contributor David Thompson continued to work and submit new material for publication.  Thanks Dave for the continued work for the site.  I start today with the first new post of Dave's material in over a year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mystery Fancy Cancel

Looking for answers or clues for the identity of this unique cancel.  Any ideas?  Please write to

Monday, September 1, 2014

Supreme Council of the Royal Arcanum

Royal Arcanum was founded in 1877 as a fraternal benefit organization.  Royal Arcanum still exists today and serves its members with a variety of benefits, including life insurance and annuities.


Langlois scan

Life insurance, as commercially conducted in the mid to late 1800's failed to meet the needs of the masses. Only the prosperous minority could afford to indulge in such an expensive luxury. Thousands upon thousands had seen their dearly bought protection vanish in bankruptcy proceedings and receiverships. 

Masons and Odd Fellows had organized relief associations that bound members of the lodge together. That gave rise to the concept of bringing men together in a fraternal union for purposes of protection.

John Upchurch founded the Ancient Order of United Workmen in Pennsylvania, upon the principle of combining cooperation and fraternity with the business of furnishing protection at the lowest possible cost. While his plan was wrong in detail, the protection was what people demanded. He planted the seed, from which grew a tree whose branches would protect many thousands of widows, orphans, and dependants.
The Knights of Honor was founded in Kentucky, with a slight improvement in recognizing sound insurance principles. Their growth was rapid, almost spontaneous. People in moderate circumstances welcomed them with open arms and pockets.

In 1876-77 two of the founders of Knights of Honor, John A. Cummings of Boston, MA. And Dr. Darius


Wilson attempted to have the K. of H. adopt a scale of assessment, recognizing one of the well-known elements of life insurance. The effort failed, because of a lack of public education.

Upon their return to Boston, Brothers Wilson and Cummings organized a new society under Massachusetts's law. Dr. Wilson invited the members to meet at his house, 1066 Washington Street, on June 23, 1877, and by virtue of his position as founder of the order, organized the Supreme Council of the Royal Arcanum.