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Posted Nov 23, 17 15:04 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Turkey Day Sale

All my covers listed for sale in census here for sale at 30% off. All discounted prices available through Monday (November 27), subject unsold.

Happy Thanksgiving to those fortunate enough to celebrate the holiday!

Will accept unused imperforate Australian States in trade. .... (deservedly) great prices in Corinphila sale earlier today for great unused.

Posted Nov 23, 17 14:46 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)


Oops. I was spelling it wrong. Google Tranlsate now yields a translation close to:

"next: vertical writing" or maybe: "vertical writing follows"

Am  now more confused than before, and that's without any turkey torpor.

Posted Nov 23, 17 14:38 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Mercutio from Shakespeare; tcm as Tom Mazza signs.

Posted Nov 23, 17 14:12 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)


Never heard this word before. Tried to use Google Tranlsate, but failed. The best I could get is a sense that it refers to "handwritten contents" - maybe to tip off censors that the item either did, or just as likely did not, need to be examined. During what period does this notation occur? I would guess 1932-1945, and almost entirely on mail to Japan sent there from Manchukuo & Occupied China. Did it take the form of a handstamp?

Bowing protocol in Japan has changed dramatically in recent years. An 'L' sound was introduced to pronunciation about 10 years ago. Even referring to a prime minister in public by his given name is tolerated. Japan is becoming more and more international and informal, partly due to Chinese influence.

Your post struck me as English language at its lyrical best, though I don't understand the Mercution and tcm references. What am I missing?

Posted Nov 23, 17 13:02 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


Japanese is one of the highest forms of politeness as Steven says, although I could not show the low and carefully calculated bow from the waist that I sent with my 'sumimasen'.

As for keeping the comments to philately, try 'tsugitatesho' for some pronunciation practice. Hint - it's something to do with military mail.

John W.

Posted Nov 23, 17 12:40 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

I don't file thoughts about Philamercury and Mercutio in the same balloon, nor am I offended by smartass quips (some of tcm's are to be savored), but I do recommend posting in plain English as the appropriate idiom to convey information, analysis, estimate, and conjecture to readers of this Board.

Posted Nov 23, 17 12:27 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)


For those of us in the US, I think that being a smart-ass seems to be part of our birthright as Americans. Guys like JW who've been in the Hamptons ought to know that (.... .. .... ..)

Just as philately is an international pursuit, this board is international in terms of its participants and subject matter, so the occasional use of Japanese (especially as a high form of apology) should be alright.

Japanese language does not include a word for conveyng a direct "No". Directly conveying that sentiment is considered too rude, so there's simply no way to do it. In addition, there are no past, present, or future tenses. Every single one of the 47 or so syllables is always pronounced exactly the same way every time it's used (Hebrew is like that too; probably other languages of which I'm unaware). All this means that communication is very precise, and there's no need to talk loudly or even emote or gesture. English, especially the White Trash New Jersey English that I use in conversation, is essentially the opposite.

Philatelic German includes various designations for covers, such as:

Philatelische Brief - philatelically inspired, such as a first day cover.

Bedarfsbrief - literally a 'necessary' cover such as Rob F's recently-shown 1869 cover from London to Buenos Aires.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that Philatelic English has a more precise term for this latter type cover other than calling it Non-Philatelic. If that is in fact the case, I would submit this as one bit of evidence that English is not necessarily the greatest and most expressive language ever invented. Does seem to be excellent for rhyming or non-rhyming poetry and song lyrics.

English seems to be at its best when it adapts words of foreign origin, if it improves upon them. But then you might also end up with words like genre and homage, which can be used to amplify class differences. English can be a pretty dangerous weapon.

Philamercury Trap - That strikes me as English at its best. Use thisterm in conversation with a so-called normal person, and one would immediately be asked to explain it, which would facillitate the learning process. If Tarzan were here, I bet he'd say:

Philamercury Trap...good!

Posted Nov 23, 17 12:08 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


The interesting thing is that the apparent K of Khouri is not quite identical to the first letter of "Kalfa", yet I didn't see anyone raise the possibility that it is an "R". I wonder why? What would the writer's "R" have looked like? (Actually, I do think it is probably a "K".)

Posted Nov 23, 17 11:04 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


John B. Point well made and well accepted. Apologies for falling into the Philamercury trap of trying to be a smart-ass (if you will excuse the Americanism).

John W.

Posted Nov 23, 17 10:45 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Language on Philamercury

John Wilson said it well on October 19 when, on this board he posted:

"We use the language of Shakespeare, Milton, even Winston Churchill and my favourite orator Douglas MacArthur (just listen to his farewell address to West Point). Why adulterate it with pointless, and occasionally pompous, pronouncements?"

If you want to show off, impress us with your philatelic erudition rather than the language you took in high school.

Posted Nov 23, 17 10:34 by Steven Chiknas (chiknas1)

Expressive language

Old saw: One speaks to ones wife in English. ones mistress in French and ones horse in German.

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted Nov 23, 17 10:14 by David Handelman (davidh)


Not the Russians I know! They are very cynical about the Russian government, and almost everything else.

Posted Nov 23, 17 10:11 by John Barwis (jbarwis)


They would say that, wouldn't they. They also say they have the best system of government

Posted Nov 23, 17 10:00 by David Handelman (davidh)


John: Russians say that their language is the most expressive. And Russians who become completely fluent in English invariably say that they find the Russian version of Shakespeare better than the original.

Posted Nov 23, 17 8:40 by John Barwis (jbarwis)


Noitacirbul? Mahafisail?

Let's try English, the greatest and most expressive language ever invented.

Posted Nov 23, 17 4:42 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


Ahhh so desu. Sumimasen. John W.

Khalifa it is.

Posted Nov 23, 17 4:06 by Farley Katz (navalon)


To answer John's question about i versus l, I believe the word is Kalfa, as Dave Savadge suggested. This says (if I understand it) that "Kalfa" is Ottoman Turkish for Arabic "Khalifa."

Posted Nov 23, 17 3:31 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


I have no strong opinion on this, but looking at the handwriting, if what I read as 'Halfa' really is 'Kaifa', how does one reconcile the appearance of the looped 'l' in 'Halfa' with the clearly different 'i' with a dot over the letter in all the instances in the other written words. Taking 'Khouri' as an example, the 'i' in that bears no resemblance to the supposed 'i' in 'Halfa / Kaifa'.

I still believe the word is 'Halfa' and not 'Kaifa'.

John W.

Posted Nov 23, 17 0:11 by Gregory Shoults (coilcollector)

Supporting Cast

Here are a few other examples of 3rd and 4th Bureau coils


Posted Nov 23, 17 0:04 by Gregory Shoults (coilcollector)

Favorite Show Item

The most common critique of many exhibits is they do not have a strong ending. My favorite item from Chicagopex, provided by another collector of Washington and Franklin coils is a cover that pretty much hits the nail on the head. The transition from 3rd to 4th Bureau was a gradual one and it is possible to find mixed frankings of both issues. This cover wraps it up nice since it has the last 3rd Bureau coil, the 10 cent Franklin, and the first 4th Bureau coil, the 2 cent Washington. An added bonus is the cover is commercial from one bank to another.


Posted Nov 22, 17 23:15 by Rob Faux (robfaux)

Favorite show pick up

The UK to Argentina.  And, it's pretty nice looking to boot.

and, no.  It didn't follow my rule of showing inter-European mails.  Ooops.  But, it looked so nice.


Posted Nov 22, 17 23:13 by Rob Faux (robfaux)


Roger and David,

My thanks!  Love this board and the people who frequent it!

Picked that item up at Chicagopex for a nice price.  I've been concentrating on trying to learn more of the European postal workings during that period.  I am finding it is making me better able to assess 24 cent 1861 US items to Europe.

That, and I am just having a great time with the expanded area of research and opportunities to learn new things.


Posted Nov 22, 17 23:03 by David Snow (dwsnow)


Rob Faux,

Roger Heath is correct; your folded letter is dated 14 Dec. 1855. It is a nice item.

As you mentioned,  the 30 centesimi rate was for distances from 10 to 20 meilen (Austrian post-miles), equal to 47 to 94 U.S. miles, per (Zoll) loth (equal to 16 grams or 0.56 oz.) The distance from Milano to Verona is about 20 meilen. Here are some other examples of uses of the 30c stamp.

The "1" in the circle marking on your letter is a Distribuzione (distribution) marking meaning the first delivery of the day at Verona.


Posted Nov 22, 17 22:33 by Roger Heath (decoppet)

Italy 1855

Rob - the Italian letter is 1855, which can be seen in the second scan manuscript 1855.

Posted Nov 22, 17 22:13 by Rob Faux (robfaux)

Flensburg to Hamburg

I am guessing, if the pattern holds here for other European countries in the 1850's & 60's, that there was a special reduced rate for foreign mail from Denmark to Hamburg?

Here is a 4 skilling from Flensburg to Hamburg.  Wondering if someone here can confirm and perhaps give a date range for the rate per loth.


Posted Nov 22, 17 21:53 by Rob Faux (robfaux)

austria/italy item

Less sure here.  Maybe 1855.  Maybe 1858


Posted Nov 22, 17 21:53 by Rob Faux (robfaux)

back of item

Looks like 1855 here, I think.


Posted Nov 22, 17 21:52 by Rob Faux (robfaux)

Milano/Verona 1855 or 1858?

Item below seems to be 1855, but would like to confirm with others since we are in 'what does this writing mean' mode.  It could be 1858.  Next post has inside of item.

I assume the 30 ctm rate for 10-20 mielen if it is 1855.  If 1858, December would be after change to new rate, i am guessing?  I only have the rate that ends in 1858 written down...



Posted Nov 22, 17 20:10 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday and long weekend.

Posted Nov 22, 17 17:32 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

nautical mile

For quick calculations 1 1/7 or 1.15 miles is good. In Robertson, one of the old mileage maps seems to work out to nautical miles rather than modern statute miles. I don't know if this is a surveying problem or something else.

Posted Nov 22, 17 15:45 by Michael Dixon (michael76)

Cairo cover

My thanks to William Robinson, Dave Savadge, Rob Faux and Johm Wilson for suggestions on the interpretation of my Ceylon/Cairo cover.

I had considered Halfa, but thought it too far south (on the Egypt/Sudan border) to be a sub-address of Cairo.   I also looked again at the addressee who I think is Ghattas Khouri (with a "K") and the first chracgter of the "sub-address"; I concluded both first charcters are "K". -- wich leads me to think that "Kaifa" [= El Kalifa district of Cairo] is the most probable dstination.

Again, sincere thanks to each of you.


Posted Nov 22, 17 15:06 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

In case you care ....

A nautical mile (nm) is about 2025 yards or 1,852 meters. It is based on the circumference of the earth at the equator and is 1 minute of the circumference at the equator.

Posted Nov 22, 17 15:03 by John Barwis (jbarwis)


Having lived in small-town Alaska I wouldn't call it scandalous behavior, just a normal day...

Posted Nov 22, 17 14:58 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


Or the infinitely more distinguished Yamil Khouri of Massachusetts.

Posted Nov 22, 17 14:57 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


The behavior of the military in Alaska -- Sitka was the center -- was a scandal, with "Sitka a hell of demoralization despotism and military pollution." Elsewhere, and semi humourously -- the women drink a bottle of whiskey before dinner and whale oil after and the men eat fish raw. Also, in 1869, gold. There is a Nov 28, 1868 letter in the press from the unnamed postmaster at Sitka (about crop growth there.) More sailings. Bark Washington to Sitka from SF, Feb 28, 1869. The one reference (April 9, 1869) re sending letters I have found is for the Revenue Cutter Lincoln for Sitka, St. Paul (Kodiak), and St. George about 10th from SF. The paper says the post office should offer to put letters on the ship, but they will be welcome in any case. I wonder if things would have been a bit slower in winter or near winter weather for the Coasters? It's dark and I wouldn't be surprised if the weather was sometimes nasty. I didn't analyze this, but it looks like the steamers were either going slower or making very long stops along the voyages.

Posted Nov 22, 17 14:54 by Rob Faux (robfaux)


I am wondering if the Ghattas Khoury this envelope is addressed to might be related to the present day Ghattas Khoury of Lebenon?

Posted Nov 22, 17 14:49 by Rob Faux (robfaux)


John W.

Ok.  Won't argue with that since it isn't my area of specialty. 
Would be interested to see if the item in question has a backstamp of any sort.  Would help if there were something there, I think.


Posted Nov 22, 17 14:44 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


Just calling on experience of typical addressing of the period. Wadi Halfa was a major military and POW location, and there was regular traffic down the Nile and by rail links between Cairo and Halfa. Of course I may be totally wrong, in which case I would be happy to see evidence of another Halfa. To my old tired eyes the address seems clearly HALFA. Show me another HALFA without twisting it around to a different name??? Wadi Halfa was major in that period. John W.

Posted Nov 22, 17 14:18 by Rob Faux (robfaux)


Maybe I am missing something.  But, Wadi Halfa is well over 1000 km away from Cairo.  Why would Wadi Halfa be a 'sub-address' to Cairo?  Enlighten me please?

Posted Nov 22, 17 9:52 by John Barwis (jbarwis)


nm=nautical miles

Posted Nov 22, 17 9:46 by joe kirker (centuryc3)


Confused---isn't a nanometer one billionth of a meter? How is that related to travel distance on planet earth. What am I missing? Joe

Are we talking about nautical miles instead?

Posted Nov 22, 17 9:32 by Richard Drews (bear427)



Even today the cruise ships make the trip in a leisurely 2 days. The trip feels longer than 500 nanometers. ;>}


Posted Nov 22, 17 9:26 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Sitka to Kodiak

The distance is roughly 500 nm; steamers in 1869 averaged about 14 kts, so the Sitka-Kodiak trip could have taken only two days if no intermediate stops were made.

Victoria to Sitka by steamer is less than three days.

Posted Nov 22, 17 3:17 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


The address is 'Halfa', full name 'Wadi Halfa'. Check out the British Victorian campaigns in the Sudan. Wadi Halfa was a major centre of activity. Note that the town was submerged by the Aswan dam in the 1970s.

John W.

Posted Nov 21, 17 23:01 by Rob Faux (robfaux)


I think Dave S has the right of it.  Though, I may have missed another option as I was looking.

Posted Nov 21, 17 22:52 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


The Steamer George S. Wright sailed from Portland on February 21, 1869 for Sitka, with intermediate stops (not Kodiak!). Again, had to deal with massive false negatives in search engine. (One would have thunk there was an Army agent in San Francisco who would have seen to the forwarding of Army letters, although it might have been handled by the USPO directly. Again, there is the question of how long it might have taken to get something from Sitka to Kodiak. There might have been possibilities of ships from Asia being involved. I am surprised that there seems to be no evidence of army/navy sailings.) If it went via the Portland PO, then it must have been under cover, otherwise one would expect further postal markings.

Posted Nov 21, 17 22:47 by Rick Mingee (ramingee)

Help Decode This Address!

Thank you Steven! And RF via email on the side (he's very good, you know)...

Turns out there was a short term usage/spelling of "Camp Jaqua" for the army camp near Humboldt, CA prior to the more recognized Iaqua. If there is a Y at the end on the envelope, perhaps that was phonetic spelling, or misunderstanding by the sender?? Don't know for sure, but Jaqua is it!

And the rest of it is...Surgeon 1st Battalion Mountaineers, California Volunteers.

I love this board! Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Posted Nov 21, 17 21:47 by Bob Rufe (bob rufe)

19th Century "Packages"


Perfect! My searches were obviously not sufficiently diligent. Any other numbers you know of before I go wandering? I also found 20047 pretty quickly - thanks.

Posted Nov 21, 17 21:16 by Roland Austin (rolandaustin)

19th Century "Packages"


Is PhilaMercury cover number 24947 an example of what you are seeking?

Posted Nov 21, 17 20:40 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)

Rick M's Cover Decoded

It is in fact to the US Army fort Camp Iaqua (aka Camp Jaqua), and addressed to a very historically important man.

Here are two useful links:

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