Thursday, October 16, 2014

Documentary Printed Cancels: Provident Savings Life Update

Red and black Provident Savings Life cancels on 1898 series revenue stamps.  All are printed cancels except for the bottom right stamp, which displays a handstamp cancel.  Five different documentary values are shown here with Provident Savings Life printed cancels.  Are there more?

Provident Savings Life cancels have featured on this website over the years.  New examples continue to emerge and expand the list of the use of printed cancels on 1898 documentary revenue stamps. The standard reference for documentary printed cancels, the Fullerton List, only covers documentary printed cancels by railroads and express companies.  Provident Savings Life and Assurance Company is the only known insurance company to use printed cancels.

In addition to the stamps seen above that are found in my collection, David Thompson sent in a scan of the R170 pair below:

R170 Pair
David Thompson scan

Several years ago I had an email discussion with Frank Sente regarding the status of these cancels and whether they were printed are not.  This post from 2010 includes some of that discussion, and the argument was made then that these cancels were printed.  The above pair of stamps does a fine job of presenting proof of their status as having been printed, which the orientation and the precision, placement and clarity of the cancels makes clear.  One hitch though is that the separation between the cancels is not proportional to the stamp dimensions.  The cancel on the right stamp above is centered to the left relative the the stamp on the right.

Below are larger versions of the stamps shown above.  I've included three copies of R170 in the stamps above because of color issues with the cancels.  There are two red and one black, and between the reds, there is a clear color difference.

R170 roulette, orange-red printed cancel

R170 roulette, red printed cancel

R170 roulette, black printed cancel

R172 roulette, black printed cancel.   

This stamp has been featured in the stamp montage at the top of this website for years.

R173p hyphen-hole, red printed cancel

R174p hyphen-hole, red printed cancel

R175 black printed cancel

R175 roulette black handstamp cancel

All of the examples of Provident Savings Life printed cancels that I have seen with a date have shown a 1900 year date.  Where are other years of the 1898 series?  Even if the firm did not begin printing cancels until 1900, shouldn't there be 1901 examples?  Or did they simply run out and chose to print no more, necessitating the production of the handstamp illustrated immediately above?

A question I have is why these cancels, now shown on many documentary values, are orphans?  By orphans I mean their apparent neglect by established collectors and catalogs.  Fullerton and others raised the status of the documentary railroad and express printed cancels; while the proprietary printed cancels have always had a special place in the revenue hobby.  Where have these stamps and their cancels been?  Have they just been ignored?  Does anyone know of an old philatelic article on the subject or a collector that may have had a small collection of these?

The small collection above began with the R170, and has been pieced together over several years through multiple purchases and one gift from Bob Hohertz.

I am always looking for new Provident cancels like these, on new stamp values or with new colors.  If you have examples, please write


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