Thursday, September 29, 2022

Henry M. North, Insurance Agent


JAN 28 1901

Henry M. North advertisement from an Augusta, Georgia high school yearbook.  Buy those whole life policies when you are young!

Unusual circular date stamp, especially from an insurance broker.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Errington & Martin, Stamp Importers

Errington & Martin, Stamp Importers:  the 1898 Revenues Edition!

The battleship revenue stamp above appears to have a fuzzy and illegible handstamp cancel that renders the stamp barely interesting as a collectible item.  However, further inspection changes everything.  Turn the stamp over, and a clear and intriguing "cancel" appears:

- N.E.-

Just a glance makes it clear that this is not a cancel but a backstamp applied by a stamp dealer, likely located in the United Kingdom.  The stamp is nothing pretty, but the backstamp makes an interesting and collectible philatelic item.

London-based Edgar Frank Errington and Benjamin Ernest Marten were late 19th and early 20th century British stamp dealers who specialized in importing foreign stamps.  Their business as a partnership lasted until 1919, when Benjamin Martin took over all operations.  

The firm backstamped stamps from all over the world, and there are many examples still in existence.  For example, this 2 cent Columbian, which shows they published stamp albums in addition to importing the stamps to fill them:



A 2009 Stampboards thread has a very interesting discussion on this subject and many more examples of Errington and Martin backstamps.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Printed Cancels by the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad?

A corresponding collector in Minnesota sent me examples of cancellations, possibly printed, by the Duluth, Missabe, & Iron Range Railroad, a railroad organized to transport iron ore and eventually taconite out of the Minnesota iron range to port facilities on Lake Superior at Duluth, Minnesota.  I was immediately interested in these, as examples of these cancels don't appear in Richard Fullerton's catalog, and the DM&IRR was not a part of any of the families of railroads known to use printed cancels.  

At first glance the cancels on the three stamps collectively make it appear that we could have printed cancels, as the cancels are all roughly in the same place on the stamps.  But with a bit of scrutiny it seemed that the cancels might even be complete fakes.  First, it seems likely they were not printed, as the cancels appear at differing angles on each stamp.  Second, the stamps indicate no sign of legitimate use, with dates or handstamps or normal manuscript cancelling.  Third, the ink has run and blurred across all the stamps.  The AMEX printed cancels show this blurred quality for stamps cancelled with older plates, but there is no evidence anywhere that the DM&IRRR cancelled enough stamps to wear out their cancelling devices.  

It appears to me that the maker of the cancels used a pile of cheap stamps - a 1c stamp, a pencil canceled 2c with a slight tear, and 25c with cut cancels, to add handstamp cancels.

It appears that at best we have philatelic mischief, or at worst fraud, committed sometime after 1937.

A little research showed that the DM&IRR was organized and so named in 1937, 35 years after the 1898 tax period expired.  On July 1, 1937, the Duluth, Missabe and Northern Ry (DM&N) and the Spirit Lake Transfer Railway were merged to form the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway.  There is a reference called “History of the Missabe” published by the Missabe Railroad Historical Society that goes into this merger and the creation of the DM&IRR.

To cross check it, I went to a contemporaneous reference, the Poor’s Manual of Railroads (image below) from 1901, that lists all US Class I, II, III railroads.  There is no DM&IRR in the manual, but there are the Duluth & Iron Range RR, and the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Ry.

The mischief maker didn’t even bother to create fake cancels for a real, existing railroad during the time of the 1898 tax period.  At least we know that the fakes were made after 1937.  But that’s about all.  Whatever the case, these are an interesting philatelic story.  The collector that sent these stamps to me reported that he had seen a stamp with these cancels sold in an auction a few years ago.  While he did not win that auction lot, he did buy examples of these cancels from a collection located in Walnut Grove, Minnesota sometime in the last few years.  Buyer beware!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

New York Stock Brokers: Clarence S. Day Sr. and Jr. and "Life with Father"

Clarence Day Sr. was the head of his eponymous brokerage firm in New York during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where his son, Clarence Jr also briefly worked (and did so during the 1898 tax period).  Clarence Sr. would become the inspiration for one of Broadway's longest running and successful plays, Life with Father, written by Clarence Jr.  But before the book was written that would inspire the play, Sr and Jr conspired to buy and sell stocks, of which one of those transactions is represented by the $10 stamp below:

C. S. D. & CO.

Stamp and cancel identification courtesy of David Thompson.  Stamp shows clear evidence that it was soaked in water to remove it from a document; the square of soluble varnish dissolved in the process and took with it some of the cancel and the $10 overprint.

Clarence S. Day Sr.

Clarence S. Day Jr.

Author and illustrator Clarence Day, best known for his book Life With Father, was born in New York City on November 18, 1874. He graduated from Yale College in 1896, then worked in his father's brokerage house and served briefly in the U. S. Navy. In 1898 he was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. He traveled for some years in search of a cure, then settled in New York, where he became active in the alumni affairs of Yale College and launched his writing career. Day's essays, book reviews, short stories, verses and cartoons appeared regularly during the 1910s-30s in Harper's Magazine, The New Republic, The Metropolitan Magazine, The New York American, and The New Yorker. His first book, This Simian World, was published in 1920. Day achieved his greatest popularity during the 1930s with the publication of Life With Father, a series of comic memoirs of family life. Clarence Day died of pneumonia on December 28, 1935. (From the description of Clarence Day papers, 1796-1993, (bulk dates 1890-1935). (New York Public Library)).

The play was also made into a film:

Thursday, September 15, 2022

New York Stock Brokers: Zimmerman & Forshay

In the membership lists of the New York Stock Exchange from 1898 through 1902, the firm of Zimmerman and Forshay come last, the usual fate of anyone whose name begins with a "Z".  There are few Zs in the lists of firms and members of the NYSE during the 1898 tax period, making cancel identification for Zimmerman and Forshay rather simple.  This is but one of 100s of firms identified as users of the 1898 series revenue stamps.

Over the past few months, David Thompson and I have been working on a comprehensive list of NYSE members that could have used stamps during the 1898 tax period.  There is still much work to do, as each list has 1100 individual members (many fewer firms though) and there are 5 relevant lists to include: 98, 99, 00, 01 and 02.  Conveniently for collectors of 1898 revenues, the membership of the NYSE ran mid-year to mid-year, coinciding with the initial use of the stamps in 1898.  Once the comprehensive list is more complete, we'll publish the document for the use of others.  

Meanwhile, I'll keep posting firms that we've identified along the way, through the use of the NYSE membership lists and King's Views of the New York Stock Exchange.

So far, we've only been able to identify Zimmerman and Forshay by their "Z. & F." cancel.  

Z. & F.