Friday, May 28, 2021

1/8 Cent Proprietary with 50 Cent Beer Stamp Impressions

While there was an 1898 series of beer stamps, the stamps and the taxes they paid were not for the purpose of supporting the war effort, as they accounted to more general revenues for the US Treasury.  However, the Bureau of Engraving and printing was producing both the ongoing series of beer stamps while printing the battleship and other associated war stamps.  In their hurry to produce the new stamps and the ongoing series, they occasionally made a mistake.  This post presents an interesting example of one of those errors.

Frank Sente has supplied a block of the 1/8 cent proprietary that has non-inked vignettes of the REA60 beer stamp visible in the margin.  As a reminder, REA60 looks like this, with an image of Thomas Hart Benson in the center:

Below is a bottom right margin imprint and plate number 9437 block of twenty of RB20 wherein you can faintly see two vignette impressions of the REA60 federal beer stamp in the margin.

A cropped image from the block showing the BEP margin imprint and the lower of the two REA vignette image:

Frank ran the cropped image through a program called RetroReveal to "strenghten" the image of the REA60 vignette.    The vignette is inverted.  At the top you can read ..."rter Barr".. of Quarter Barrel above the recognizable image of Thomas Hart Benson's head with "Fifty Cents" below that. 

Thanks to Frank for sharing this.  If there is this one, there must be others.  Examine your battleships closely!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Industrial Cancels: The General Manifold Company

Back after a month -- been a bit busy with another project.  Lots of material has come in that is worth working through and posting, so we'll see how the next few weeks go.  Today's entry is from David Thompson, who has shared a pair of R187s with a cancel from The General Manifold Company:

O.  D.  BLEAKLEY,  Treas'r.
APR  23  1901                        APR 23  1901

When I first saw this cancel I assumed that the company was involved in the manufacture of engine manifolds.  Seemed like a muscular and needed business during the age of steel and railroads back at the turn of the century.  Turns out that the business produced a form of carbon paper that would allow businesses to make ready copies of its documents.  In particular, the company produced carbon paper products for railroads, and there are feature articles in various railroad publications from the time on the company and its product.  Their business was big enough that they built a large plant in Franklin, Pennsylvania to produce their office supplies:

The General Manifold Company plant, Franklin, PA

A brief description of the company's activity can be found in the 1904 edition of Railway and Locomotive Engineering:

Friday, April 23, 2021

1898 Revenues COVID Edition: GET VACCINATED!!


Breaking news: 04/23/2021, 19:00 EDT -- Pause on the use of J&J vaccine lifted. 

Please get vaccinated!  As the US moves towards herd immunity, vaccines are the key, yet we've now entered the most difficult phase of the process.  Early and ready adopters have been lining up to get vaccinated and creating high demand for the shots.  But we are starting to enter a phase, especially in some areas and states, where demand is starting to flag.  The US needs to get to a place where we have 80% immunity in order to stop the epidemic; the world likely needs to see similar results to stop the pandemic.

Yes, the Jannsen/Johnson&Johnson (J&J) vaccine has been briefly pulled from use due to rare complications.  This is not  a reason to stay away from COVID vaccines, especially the messenger RNA-based Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but also the J&J vaccine which is based on different (and older and more established) technology.

I received the J&J shot 11 days ago.  For four days I experienced mild flu like symptoms, which are not unusual and not considered a problem.  But I now feel totally fine.  But more importantly I'm protected from acute COVID.  The rest of my family is all getting the Pfizer vaccine, and they are currently between doses 1 and 2.  Everybody is well and healthy.

Meanwhile, those reticent or resistant to getting the vaccine will help the virus continue to spread, forcing us to achieve herd immunity the slow, deadly, and old fashioned way: infection, replication, retransmission with acute morbidities and mortality.  

BTW: Today is the one year anniversary of the call by our President to test the injecting of disinfectants.  Please don't try this.  GET THE VACCINE.  And skip the chloroquine.  I took the stuff for two years in the 80's as a malaria prophylaxis in West Africa.  It tastes terrible and gives you bad dreams.  Never mind that it has no effect on COVID.  Johnson & Johnson hasn't been around for over 120 years because it simply has ideas or thoughts.  I'm collecting their cancels from 1898 at the same time I'm getting their vaccine 123 years later.  Trust the scientists, not the charlatans.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Dominion Line


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

C. Bishop Grain Company


Buchanan, Mich.

The C. Bishop Grain Company had a banner year in 1898, as reported by their hometown newspaper, the Buchanan Record in Buchanan, Michigan.  

Buchanan Record, June 16, 1898

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Wallace Supply Company's Rubber Stamp Flag Cancel

Yesterday, David Thompson found an interesting item on Ebay for the canceling of battleship revenue stamps.  The Wallace Supply Company of Chicago produced rubber stamp cancels in the form of a flag with the necessary identifying information to legally cancel revenue stamps.  The company promoted the rubber stamps through postcards (and perhaps other means as well), as the item in question is a postcard sent to the Exchange Bank in Ackley, Iowa.  

W. S. Co.
JUL  12  1898

Inset from the upper left corner of the postcard.

I looked through a part of my collection to see if I could find an example and one showed up within  minutes of searching.  

M.  &  S.
MAR  25  1901

This is an interesting little piece of 1898 revenues history, tucked away for sale under advertising postcards on Ebay, unlikely to be found by most 1898 collectors.  It is for sale for $50.  

Friday, April 9, 2021

New York Stock Brokers and Bankers: Muller, Schall & Company

New York.

R172p block of six
Removed from a bill of exchange fragment

New York.

New York

Bill of exchange document fragment

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

New York Stock Brokers: William Salomon & Company

William Salomon was born in Mobile, Alabama before the Civil War.  He found his way to New York where he would eventually establish a brokerage house with one of Wall Street's best known names.  He began in the brokerage business with Speyer & Company, but would open his own shop in early 1902.


Document fragment for taxes of $2.44.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company


The Rock Island Line was in operation from 1852 to 1980 and ran west and south west from Chicago.  For many years it was a US Class I railroad, but one of the weaker roads.  Its prospects might have been the brightest at the time of the cancel below:

C. R. I. & P. RY. CO.

A check made out the the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to pay for forwarding freight charges, presumably for cargo heading east of Chicago.

Rock Island route map

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Railroad and The Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company

The Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Railroad was part of the New York Central's western division and would become totally absorbed by the NYC in a few years after the cancel of the stamp below.  The II&I ran through territory experiencing rapid economic growth and would profit from freight and passenger traffic in the region.  

THE I. I. & I. R. R. CO.

IND.  ILL.  &  IA. R. R.
APR  4  1902

The 2 cent documentary above almost certainly was removed from a check.  The cancel immediately above comes from the bill of lading below from the Studebaker Company which would become one of the United States most significant car makers in the early 20th century.  The BOL appears to be a document to send Studebaker vehicles to Roswell, New Mexico, the home of Area 51.  At the time, Studebaker's vehicle product was an electric car.  

Studebaker had been a coach and wagon builder in the 1800s.  But in 1902 they began to make electric cars, making it possible that this BOL for 31,000 lbs of freight (only 1c tax for 31,000 lbs?) could be for electric cars.  Most of the carriage for the trip to New Mexico was completed by the Atcheson, Topeka & Santa Fe.

The association here between Roswell and Area 51, space aliens, electric cars from 120 years ago, Tesla, Elon Musk, and Space X would have made a great April Fools post.  No such creativity this year!

Meanwhile, these cancels would be great additions to the work started by Tolman and continued by Bob Mustacich on his site to inventory RR cancels on battleships.  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society

 Another David Thompson find.  Norwich Union continues to exist, though now branded as Aviva.

N. U. F. I. S.
APR   17   1901

Saturday, April 3, 2021

New York Stock Brokers: Lawton, Flint & Co; Lee, Kretschmar & Co; Maxwell & Scoville; McIntyre & Wardwell

Today is a catch-all day for several firms that have no representation in my usual reference books like King's View of the New York Stock Exchange.  I've not found much in the way of column advertising for these firms or any pictures of their members.  So instead we just have four memos plus the insets of their accompanying cancels.  All of these come from the Eames and Moore pile of memos courtesy of David Thompson.  

Lawton, Flint stock memo of sale for 100 shares of Union Pacific Railroad.

Lawton, Flint & Co.,

Lee, Livingston stock memo of sale overstamped by the new firm Lee, Kretschmar & Co.  


Maxwell & Scoville stock memo of sale, likely to Eames and Moore for what appears to be US Steel, for what also appears to be $47 1/8 per share.  

Now that the NYSE has gone decimal, I wonder how many investors out there know that we all once traded shares by fractions, sometimes down to the 32nd or even less?  Now with machines trading millions of shares in seconds, the buy sell spread can come down to a thousandth of a cent or less on some trades.  The old manual world of the NYSE clearing house is long gone.



McIntyre & Wardwell stock memo of sale to Eames and Moore for 100 shares of something I'm still guessing at...maybe Wire? for the American Steel and Wire Company?

Mc I & W.

Friday, April 2, 2021

New York Stock Brokers: Arnold Leo & Company


Arnold Leo & Co sale memo to Eames & Moore for 100 shares of the Atcheson, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad @ 64 1/4.

N.  Y.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Betel Nut Tax

 Today we reprise a previous post:

The extremely rare Scott US RB20 overprinted GUAM by the US occupation government in Guam for taxing betel nuts.  This overprint is unlisted by Scott in the Guam section of the US Specialized catalog.  Betel nuts were considered a substitute for chewing gum by revenue authorities.  Fewer than 10 copies of this stamp are known to exist.

After the seizure of Guam from the Spanish as a trophy in its war against Spain, United States government officials were forced to confront the here-to-fore unknown and rather nasty habit of chewing betel nuts for the first time.  The nuts are bitter, and stain gums and teeth.  By World War II, and after years of active US engagement throughout the South Pacific, the practice would become well known, and even popularized by Rodgers and Hammerstein in their musical South Pacific. 

From the song Bloody Mary:

Bloody Mary's chewing betel nuts.
She is always chewing betel nuts.
Bloody Mary's chewing betel nuts.
And she don't use Pepsodent!
Now ain't that too damn bad!

Whole and split betel nuts

The requirement to tax chewing gum and its "substitutes" according to the 1898 war revenue act, bedeviled US revenue agents assigned to Guam in 1898.  Betel nuts, a substitute for chewing gum, were sold everywhere on the island - from traditional village markets to the shops of foreign traders.  But the products were cheap.  In the United States, chewing gum was taxed at rates that required 2 and 4 cent proprietary stamps as specified in the war revenue act.  The low price of Betel nuts relative to chewing gum required a tax far lower than two cents or four cents. 

Naval Governor of Guam, Captain Richard Leary

The US Governor of the island, Captain R. P. Leary, had to find a solution to at least cooperate with the spirit of the law.  So he issued an order to tax each whole betel nut at a rate of 1/8 cent.  Vendors of the nuts were required to procure the 1/8 cent proprietary battleship tax stamps and apply them to each nut sold.  Unfortunately, there are no remaining examples of the stamp on piece.  After two months of use though, Governor Leary chose to have the stamps for this provisional rate overprinted in large serifed letters "GUAM".  As a result, we are left with a collectible legacy of this curious fiscal situation.

Morton Dean Joyce considered a half betel nut with a fragment of the overprinted 1/8 cent proprietary stamp attached to be the highlight of his 1898 material.  Unfortunately, the nut disintegrated with time and the remaining on-piece example no longer exists. 

In a written report, Leary stated that several sheets of RB21, the quarter cent proprietary, were overprinted GUAM for the use of vendors who sold nuts in pairs.  There was little demand, as a local taboo kept vendors from selling their nuts by the pair.  No examples of the quarter cent stamp overprinted GUAM are known to exist. 


A less scarce collectible from the US occupation of Guam can be found in this Spanish coin with a US occupation overstamp.


If you have an unusual 1898 Revenue item in your collection, please consider sending a scan of it to so it can be featured on this site.  For an example of other material of interest, read the story of the stamp below by clicking here.