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Posted Jul 25, 14 14:36 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

Fresno and San Francicso Bicycle Mail of 1894

Nicely done Leonard!

Posted Jul 25, 14 11:09 by Steve Walske (steve w)

1870 Pigeon Post

Ken, You are correct. The telegraph cable was cut early in the siege, around September 19-20. As far as the pigeon post is concerned, the artifacts now on the market are post-war facsimiles, since the actual pigeongrams were destroyed after use. The only exception to this is the remarkable letter sent by boule from the provincial postmaster (Steenackers) to his counterpart in Paris (Rampont). In his letter, Steenackers expresses doubts about the boules mail system, but nonetheless sends Rampont original pigeongrams as duplicates to ones that had been sent by bird. This boule letter was recovered from the Seine sometime after 1910 (40+ years in the water!), and is shown on the last two pages of my boules exhibit that Richard just posted. A truly historic letter. Those are the only surviving original pigeongrams.

Posted Jul 25, 14 10:34 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

New Exhibit

I just added Leonard Hartmann's exhibit of Fresno and San Francicso Bicycle Mail of 1894 to the site. It is linked from exhibits page and direct link is here.

I also added a very preliminary report of earliest reported uses of the Large Numeral Postage Dues which is linked from the Postage Due collection exhibit page (direct link here). The postage dues were not included in the Siskin/Berkun listings and the dates of actual use can be difficult to verify with precision. Thank you to Ken Lawrence and Lewis Kaufmann for assistance.

Posted Jul 25, 14 9:43 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

1870 Siege of Paris

Messages went in and out by secret telegraph until the Prussians discovered and cut the cable. After that it mostly went out by ballons montés, and in by pigeon post. Boules de Moulins were essentially clever failures. I need a good image with decent resolution to illustrate incoming photographic pigeon post, either from the paper-print or microfilm period, preferably both. Steve? Anyone?

Posted Jul 25, 14 3:02 by Bill Senkus (wsenkus)

mystery cinderella

Anyone know what this is?  No idea where or when I got it.  Dimensions 1" x 2" - high quality engraved printing on heavy card stock - blank on reverse, no gum.


Posted Jul 24, 14 22:33 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Very strange Boston cover, 1858

I just put a bizarro thingie in the census.  Commments invited.  Note that the cover should be three cents or three cents plus one cent.  The connection between that theory and the actually shadows is not so obvious.

Posted Jul 24, 14 17:57 by Dave Savadge (nomad55)

Dan Piazza

An excellent choice.

Posted Jul 24, 14 16:25 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

Mark spelled his name right. Daniel Piazza. I guess Michael took his 'commentary' down so this probably makes no sense but anyway congrats to Daniel.


Posted Jul 24, 14 15:44 by Mark Schwartz (schwamoo)

Dan Piazza, new Chief Curator of Philately

Congratulations to Dan Piazza, who has been named to succeed Cheryl Ganz as Chief Curator of Philately at the National Postal Museum.

Posted Jul 24, 14 10:07 by Richard Frajola (frajola)


Andrew - You might try a regular pencil (Ticonderoga) eraser on it. That actually works sometimes  ...

Posted Jul 24, 14 9:55 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

Fake T 25

As I suspected. Did not look right in context... Too bad it can't be removed.

Posted Jul 24, 14 9:53 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

France to VC

Thanks Steve. Apparently my color recognition leaves something to be desired, you are correct it is 1F 50 C. I doubt I would have ever noticed.

Posted Jul 24, 14 9:09 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Fake "T 25 Cents" handstamp

Andrew - the marking is fake. That is a style of mark used after UPU regulations came into effect. Also, the marking is modern ink and not oil based.

Posted Jul 23, 14 23:01 by Steve Walske (steve w)

France to VC

Andrew, The franking on your letter is 1 franc 50 centimes (three 40's, a 20 and a 10).

Posted Jul 23, 14 22:50 by Bob Watson (neopanax)

France to Veracruz 1855-56

I wonder whether the right-most stamp is 10 centimes, but I can't see clearly because of the obliterator. If so, the total would be 1F 50c which matches the 15 decimes on my cover. It might help to see a document that sets out the rates.

I'm a bit confused, though, about the "PD" and "PP" handstamps. It appears your cover with "PP" was paid entirely to addressee, although in Veracruz. So possibly no internal postage would have been due anyway. My cover was stamped with "PD" and appears to have attracted 4 reales from VCZ to Mexico City.

Posted Jul 23, 14 20:57 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

'25 CENTS' marking on 1851 Transatlantic

Can anybody advise whether the 'T 25 CENTS' marking is original to this FE 28 1851 cover from London to New York per Cunard's "Asia"? I would not expect that the cover would have any need to be advertised based on the addressee... However, it is a) not a marking I have encountered to date and 2) it is not unknown for covers to acquire markings later in life.


Posted Jul 23, 14 20:38 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

France to Vera Cruz

Reverse of the cover.


Posted Jul 23, 14 20:38 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

France to Vera Cruz (1856)

Managed to lay my hands on the Bordeaux to Vera Cruz cover. I will post both sides as the franking is on both sides. I have no idea why the rate is slightly different than Steve's explanation, but same routing and 30 Centimes more...


Posted Jul 23, 14 13:57 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

VAT info

Thanks to all for the infomation, which confirms previous experience (mostly).  I guess they are just plain ripping me off -- perhaps unwilling to do the paperwork.

Posted Jul 23, 14 11:43 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Marks correspondence, continued

Steve Pacetti and Gordon Eubanks: Thank you both for your kind comments of yesterday. I enjoy researching my covers, and sharing the results with others. And thank you to all my many friends on this board who have assisted me in my research.

Here is another Marks correspondence cover in my collection, which I have researched and just entered in PhilaMercury, cover ID 22310.


Posted Jul 23, 14 6:51 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Henry Hartsfield Jr., R.I.P

Astronaut and stamp collector Hank Hartsfield is dead at age 80. He was generous in his public support of philately, sometimes attending stamp shows to autograph covers. He was a Tiffany banquet speaker one year, to encourage donations to the American Philatelic Research Library. No mention of his hobby interest in his New York Time obituary this morning.

Posted Jul 22, 14 20:35 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)


The French cover I have is from Bordeaux to Vera Cruz via British Packet from January 29, 1856. The rate is slightly different than the example Steve lays out, the cover is franked with 4 x 40c and 1 x 20c, so 1F 80C in this case.

I can't speak to French rates, but the rate from Great Britain to Mexico in 1855 was Two Shillings and Three Pence via British West Indies Packet and One Shilling and Five Pence for mail via New York (from 1854). Apropos of nothing, the postal rates between Britain and France were significantly reduced at the beginning of 1855, from Ten Pence to Four Pence.

Posted Jul 22, 14 18:46 by Bob Watson (neopanax)

Paris Postmark

Thanks, Steve. I see it now.

Posted Jul 22, 14 18:40 by Steve Walske (steve w)

Paris to Mexico

Bob, The Paris postmark seems long because there are "(C)" bureau markings at the side.

Posted Jul 22, 14 18:31 by Bob Watson (neopanax)

Paris-Mexico 1855

Thanks for confirming the rate as 15 décimes. The Paris postmark seems to be much longer than "Paris", so I was hoping someone might be able to recognise it. I had already worked out the British route as:

Dep Southampton     2 Feb 1855     Parana
Arr   St. Thomas      21 Feb
Dep St. Thomas      21 Feb              Clyde
Arr   Veracruz            2 Mar


Posted Jul 22, 14 18:00 by Steve Walske (steve w)

Paris to Mexico

Bob, Your postmark is Paris, January 31 1855. The letter was carried by RMSP steamer from Southampton to St Thomas, and then by RMSP branch steamer to Vera Cruz. The amount paid was 15 decimes (1 franc 50 centimes) - amounts paid in cash in France were marked on the reverse.

Posted Jul 22, 14 17:37 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

Bob & Matthew Covers

In my office in Philadelphia right now, but when I get home will pull out some examples to see if they help... I think I have an example to Vera Cruz from France in the same period that somebody helpfully stuck a bunch of French stamps on... which always helps as far as rates go!

Posted Jul 22, 14 16:12 by Matthew Kewriga (mkewriga)

1864 Cuba-St. Thomas-London-Boston


(I will post it later to PM)


Posted Jul 22, 14 16:10 by Matthew Kewriga (mkewriga)

1864 Cuba-St. Thomas-London-Boston

Cover has a rather unusual routing of Cuba-St. Thomas-London-Boston.

It originated at Sancti Spiritus, Cuba with local postage prepaid to Havana. Then apparently mistakenly sent to St. Thomas.

In London, a debit of “40” cents was applied.

Boston used depreciated currency of 45 cents verse 77 cents in notes.

Question: How did London arrive at the 40c debit?

One suggestion made to me: 8d ship postage from Cuba to London plus 1s transatlantic packet postage.

I know the St. Thomas – London packet rate at this time was 1s.


Posted Jul 22, 14 15:03 by Bob Watson (neopanax)

France to Mexico (City) 1855 - II

The mark on the back.


Posted Jul 22, 14 15:01 by Bob Watson (neopanax)

France to Mexico (City) 1855

Endorsed “voie d’Angleterre” [England route]
Datelined “Paris, le 30 1855”
Pmk indistinct “[?] 31 Janv. 55”
Boxed red “PD” [paid to destination - strictly, the port of entry]
Transit marks “Paid / 1855 / 1 FE 1” [London]
 “Veracruz / 3 Marzo 1855”
4 reales Mexican inland postage indicated by 4 in manuscript.

My questions: What rate was paid in France? [I will post a scan of the back next which may be a rate marking.]
Can anyone decipher the French postmark?


Posted Jul 22, 14 14:46 by Charles E. Cwiakala ([email protected])

(European) Value Added Tax / VAT ...

VAT is applicable only within the EU (European Union) countries, should a philatelic or other purchase be made within the EU, and be delivered or picked-up within the EU.

Using philatelic auctions as an example, and unless you have a VAT resale number (which must be documented on the outside of a mailed or couriered package), the VAT is applied to the the knockdown price + the buyer's premium + postage and handling costs.

The VAT is not applicable to non-EU country recipients which, of course, includes the USA. In the case of the EU philatelic auctioneers, from my experiences, 'almost all' have VAT exclusion built into their billing systems, although several do not, or did not (for the latter, corrections were made).

Purchases made by U.S.(and other non-EU area)-destinations, and receiving invoices including a VAT, should deduct the entire VAT amount from the invoice previous to remitting the payment. However, do notify the dealer/auctioneer of the billing error and the re-calculated invoice amount being remitted, as in at least one case with similar circumstances, needless after-the-fact explanatory correspondence was generated due to a misunderstanding. BTW: speaking from a past experience, paying the VAT and then requesting a refund from the vendor is the proverbial 'pain-in-the-butt' for the seller, as the seller has much time-consuming bureaucratic paperwork to complete in order to receive their refund from the taxing authority.

For auctions conducted within the EU, the upside of the EU VAT application is that EU residents must take that additional cost into consideration when calculating bidding amounts, while non-EU'ers do not.

Posted Jul 22, 14 14:45 by Bob Watson (neopanax)

New York to Mexico (City) 1857

Pmk “New York Paid Jan 6 1857”
Transit mark “Veracruz / 27 Enero 1857”
4 reales Mexican inland postage to Mexico City

How did this travel from NY to Veracruz? Did it indeed go via New Orleans?
What rate was paid in NY?
What ship carried it? I can't find a listing of the Calhoun's departure and arrival dates. (Wierenga does not list these; see p. 451.)



Posted Jul 22, 14 12:11 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

David thanks for sharing! I agree completely with Steve P.'s comments.

Posted Jul 22, 14 11:14 by Steve Pacetti (stevep)

Marks Correspondence

David Snow's information is the kind of social history that adds so much additional interest to cover collecting, beyond the usual rate, route, and postal markings upon which philatelists sometimes fixate. Nice work David! Nice covers. (Gordon's cover wasn't half bad either ;-) )

Posted Jul 22, 14 11:11 by Thomas Mazza (tom mazza)

A brown carrier...


Posted Jul 22, 14 10:15 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Marks correspondence, continued

Here are more covers in my collection from the Marks correspondence. I particularly prize the rare manuscript "Lucky Queen P.O. June 9, 77" (Josephine County, Oregon) cover. 


Posted Jul 22, 14 10:09 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Marks correspondence

Gordon: I enjoyed viewing your exhibit page which you posted this past Saturday the 19th. Especially the Wells Fargo cover privately carried from San Francisco to Oregon. That is part of the famous Marks correspondence of Roseburg(h), Douglas County, Oregon. 

The three Marks brothers, Asher, Samuel and Saul, of Roseburg, Oregon emigrated to the U.S. from Poland. The Marks brothers were granted a license to do business in 1853 in Roseburg, Oregon. Their business consisted of a general mercantile store that stocked and sold food, clothing, and hardware. One of the Marks' invoices list a corset, flannel, muslin, slippers, nutmeg, allspice, coffee and a white shirt. Another invoice lists bacon, 300 bushels of barley and a boy's hat. Drugs and chemicals were also sold, and payment was required in U.S. gold coin.

In 1860 Saul Marks moved to San Francisco where he became a broker or purchasing agent for the Marks Brothers stores in Oregon. Samuel and Asher Marks are listed in the 1860 Federal census, and their ages given as 26 and 24 respectively. Their stock was shipped to them by steamer from San Francisco to Portland, and then overland to Roseburg by wagon, There is also evidence that some merchandise was shipped by water as far as Scottsburg on the Umpqua River, and then overland to Roseburg.

The Mark brothers retired in 1894, and they preserved their massive 40-year correspondence intact and in good condition. The Oregon origin covers alone are represented by 16 counties with over 60 towns and cities in the state. in addition, covers from towns in northern California, such as Yreka, Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Red Buff were found in the correspondence.

The covers were first made available to collectors around 1940 by a Portland attorney who submitted an ad in Western Stamp Collector.

Source: "The Marks Brothers of Roseburgh, Oregon, Circa 1853-1894", by Charles W. Deer, La Posta, November 1994. 

I am posting here some covers in my collection from this correspondence; will show more in my next posting. Some of the covers still have the original contents.


Posted Jul 22, 14 9:16 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Online Exhibits

I forgot to mention that I added a new exhibit to my site yesterday: 1870-1871 Boules de Moulins Mail to Besieged Paris.

Direct link here.

Posted Jul 22, 14 8:36 by Bret Janik (exponet)

Biggest free place of on line exhibits

EXPONET – virtual philatelic exhibition – is an Internet space designed for storing, exhibiting, searching and studying the electronically displayed philatelic material (exhibits). You find here number of interesting philatelic presentations that can introduce and document various areas of philately together with many competitive exhibits (prepared according to the rules of FIP), often highly rated on regular exhibitions. EXPONET is a non-competitive exhibition promoting the philately as well as inspiriting and instructing the visitors to create own stamp exhibits. For exhibitors it is a way how to simply present their collecting and study results and display them to the philatelic public. In contrast to the physical stamp exhibitions, the exhibits are permanently placed at EXPONET without any damage to the exhibited materials. The virtual exhibition is available to visitors from around the world with an easy access from their home or during the trips. EXPONET contains both the currently existing as well as older no more existing exhibits.

Posted Jul 21, 14 22:01 by George Tyson (gtyson)


Another "brown" postal marking from Graham, NC to go with the one I posted a day or two ago. However, unlike the first one, this one is probably a mix of brown and black ink.


Posted Jul 21, 14 19:29 by Richard Frajola (frajola)


In paying bills from European and British auction firms, they almost almost always give a total that includes a separate amount for VAT. Do NOT pay that total, just subtract out the VAT and pay that amount.

Posted Jul 21, 14 19:02 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)



I have never had issues with VAT being charged on items from European sellers and European auction houses providing that the item is clearly designated for EXPORT. My invoices from auctions such as Gaertner even show the price due if for EXPORT and the price if not for EXPORT. If the item is being sent to the United States, it is not subject to VAT.


Posted Jul 21, 14 13:51 by Leonard Hartmann (hartmann)



i am by no expert on VAT in Europe but on several 
occasions with dealers (Germany, Monaco)  i know over the years they would
refund the vat to me but i had to SWARE that on leaving 
Europe i had to go through customs, show them the material
and get the paperwork to return to them, otherwise they said
they had to pay, i did and no problems

i have had shipments from Europe by the mail, express, etc. that there was
no question on the VAT, as far as i know it was no charged as exported

on the UK i bought wholesale and books and no VAT ever mail or pick up


Posted Jul 21, 14 12:57 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Question about VAT

I am dealing with a French vendor who includes the VAT in the realization on their mail sales.  They claim that can not refund the VAT to me.  My experience in British sales has been that they only charge VAT on the so called buyer's premium.  How can they get away with this?

Posted Jul 20, 14 20:17 by Ray Porter (rporter314)

Postage Due - NY double oval cancels

I am looking for some information regarding the dates of use of NY double oval Station Letter cancels on ABN postage dues.

Gilbert Burr wrote the use of the double oval station letters began about 1881. Other writers have suggested the use began in 1879. I am trying to verify the early use.


Posted Jul 20, 14 19:46 by Mark Metkin (metkin)

Missing Stamps

Not sure of the year date on the cover but would assume we are missing two 10c greens to make up the 30c Prussian Closed Mail rate per sender's endorsement at upper left.

Posted Jul 20, 14 17:15 by Lawrence Gregg (ecovers)

Missing stamp

Any guesses of what stamp might have been on this cover? 


Posted Jul 20, 14 16:52 by richard babcock (babcock)

Philatelic Mail

Seams I Acquired some of Mr. August Dietz mail around 200 covers or so.


Posted Jul 20, 14 12:47 by Scott Trepel (strepel)


Yes, fascinating insignt into the Wrights vs. the world. Some useful lessons for today's fast-moving technological industry.

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