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Posted Aug 31, 15 8:55 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

Fakes, Signatures, Certs, and Provenance

Although I don't have very much US material, some excellent points made in this discussion. While certs and signatures are helpful, they don't relieve individual collectors of their responsibility to do their own review and analysis. I'll throw in an example that I came across a few years back, which was a transatlantic cover westbound to the United States from Britain that even came with the journal article from the 1940s in which it was featured by a very prominent collector of the time (no names). It was a beautiful cover in every respect - markings, superb stamp, fresh and clean - except for one tiny, but critical detail. Simply, the stamp used on the cover did not exist at the time the cover was sent. I'm guessing that everybody that ever looked at the cover was blinded by the beauty and blind to that detail.

Posted Aug 30, 15 16:43 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Thanks Bill and Leonard.

I think your information makes it unlikely that the signature on that fake coil pair was Edward Stern's. But I think the existence of that fake signature on a dangerous fake coil does suggest that the report to Scott about someone having seen Stern's signature on fakes of rare grills is plausible, and that any stamp with Stern's penciled signature on it ought to be scrutinized carefully.

Posted Aug 30, 15 12:14 by William T. Crowe (wtcrowe)

Expertising signatures and handstamps

This site does not include Stern's signature, but it does include an example of the "ECONOMIST" handstamp. Non-US stamp collectors will probably find it of more use than the US collectors.

Posted Aug 30, 15 9:31 by Leonard Hartmann (hartmann)

E. Stern

I do not knowingly have Stern's signature on a stamp but the attached is his actual signature from a deluxe copy of his Free Franking book

to me it does not look like the one on the stamp



Posted Aug 30, 15 8:11 by William T. Crowe (wtcrowe)

E. Stern

Scott and Ken:

In my opinion the "E. Stern" is fake. Certainly the "E" is wrong. Additionally, his signature is normally in the corner and it is normally "E. Stern" or "Economist" but not both and I have never seen the entire address on a stamp.

Posted Aug 29, 15 17:36 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Fake Coil


Yes, it's Die 1, therefore fake.

Added: It goes without saying that whether the real Edward Stern or a mountebank penciled that signature, one might expect to see it again on other faked rarities.

Posted Aug 29, 15 17:27 by Scott Trepel (strepel)



That's helpful. I think the pair is Die I, thus fake. Correct?

It's hard to say if pencil note was actually applied by Stern. I'll need to make some comparisons. As I recall, his signature "E Stern" was more flowing.


Posted Aug 29, 15 15:10 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Stern signature?

Gum side


Posted Aug 29, 15 14:29 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)


I have seen Stern's penciled signature on a fake 1908 coil pair, but I'm not sure the signature was genuine. I agree about Souren and Ward.

Added: To my surprise, after two decades I still have the pictures.


Posted Aug 29, 15 11:54 by Scott Trepel (strepel)

Economist Stamp Co.

It was recently said to me that Edward Stern of the Economist Stamp Co. was an unreliable source of rare grills.

Purely from memory, I believe Edward Stern and Economist Stamp Co. (signed in pencil on back) are nearly always associated with genuine items, in contrast to Ward or Souren of the same period.

Are there any opinions from board members with solid experience handling US stamps with Stern or Economist Stamp Co. markings on back?

Posted Aug 27, 15 20:15 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

Richard:  thanks (and thanks to Mr. Myerson).

Posted Aug 27, 15 19:10 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

Arkansas Postal History Website

I just stumbled on to the very well done website on Arkansas Postal History.  I was looking for express information in the Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas during the Civil War.  It is apparently done by Bruse Roberts of Knoxville, TN. (Go VOLS!!)

This was new to me so thought I would share it.......for all I know it may be common knowledge.

Posted Aug 27, 15 11:35 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

1890 cover, Bell whatever

Actually the date is legible in one impression. It is the town mark that is mostly legible. Just pointing out that our terminology is defective.

Funny thing is, I am in the midst of a major clean up and stumbled across a Bellevue, Michigan stampless cover after my last. I am inclined to agree that that is it, and also that PMs were more likely to omit the state on instate sendings. It was still NOT proper.

Posted Aug 27, 15 11:07 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Registered Guard Mail

Matt - email received from JP Myerson:

Generally speaking, guard mail has nothing to do with regular USPS mail.  Guard mail was reserved for official correspondence between high level commanders and units under their command.  As the name implies, the mail was actually sent "under guard" (usually an armed petty officer).  The cover on Philamercury is from a the USS Cincinnati based in San Diego to the Commander in Chief US Fleet on the Flagship Pennsylvania at San Pedro.  It appears as if it was originally destined for regular mail having the normal registered box applied with a registered number. I'm willing to bet that the reverse bears Cincinnati T-9v registered postmarks. There must have been other guard mail for the Flagship and they just decided to send this piece along at which point it needed to be logged in as guard mail (the Registered Guard Mail marking with the manuscript log entry number).  Another possibility is that the letter contained a report which was expected by CINCUS and because November 6th (date received on Pennsylvania) was a Friday, they decided to have somebody drive it up to San Pedro so it would be there by the weekend. The receiving mark at right was applied aboard the Pennsylvania and is a ship's rather than a postal marking.

Posted Aug 27, 15 10:32 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

Any naval collectors about? This appears to be from USS Cincinnati (a light cruiser) but the postmarks on the reverse are from USS Argonne, which was a tender. Penalty mail, with stamp added for registry service. Sensible enough, but what is the implication of the "Registered Guard Mail" marking?


Posted Aug 27, 15 9:00 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

John S

Perhaps the Ouse postmaster was just obstinate.

Posted Aug 27, 15 1:10 by Roger Heath (decoppet)

DLO of other countries

Bob B - "should we understand that returns from other country's DLOs were always under cover"

Just as a point of interest Switzerland had no dead letter offices. It was expected that undelivered letters would be returned to the office of origin, one reason for legible date stamps in Switzerland. There were various rules specifying how long mail was to be held in Poste Restante offices, or at hotels, etc. These changed slightly over time. No letters were returned under cover.

Douglas Muir writes - "All letters returned to the 11 regional postal headquarters (Kreispostdirektionen) were to be reviewed every year at the end of September, then opened and those which still proved impossible to return were to be destroyed. A register was to be kept of such “Rebut” items and repeated instructions were given that this should be done. Of course, most postal items in Switzerland bore the sender’s address on the outside and so the proportion needing opening before return was smaller than in the United Kingdom, for example." (This relates to items circa 1885.)

Illustrated is a USA letter to Germany, where the origin date stamp is completely illegible. Based on the markings on the cover, my guess is that it was eventually put in a bag for return to the USA and the job of discovering the sender was given to US clerks. Swiss clerks didn't have a clue of the letter's origin. I don't have the cover in hand so can't show the back.

In 1871 Germany had about 40 DLO offices which appear to have operated in a similar manner to the US offices. Eventually returning items to the post office of origin. I do not know how the illustrated cover was processed in the USA.


Posted Aug 26, 15 23:13 by John Shepherd (tas philatelist)

Quaker date

Interesting discussion on Quaker dating, something that had not occurred to me before.

Mike, and others, is the cover below an example?

Brief background, years ago a wrote a paper concerning 1850s-era covers from Ouse, a remote post office in Tasmania, an Australian Colony. As the postmasters did not have date stamps, they were instructed to write the date of posting on the cover in ink.

Thus, a postmaster would usually write, for example "Deloraine/1 5 58" or "Deloraine/1 May 58" for 1 May 1858 (remember the English write 1/5/58 vs Americans who write 5/1/58).

The postmaster at Ouse usually wrote the month date as "12", regardless of the month of posting. On the attached cover he has written "12" for the month, eventhough the mail was posted in January.

I suggested that this was due to illiteracy (or innumeracy), but my search of archival records showed he was in fact literate.

I have not yet done a fresh search to see if he was a Quaker. There was a strong Quaker community in Hobart Town, the capital, at this time.

I would be very interested in opinions.

ps. Ouse was settled by the Scots, hence this cover was sent to Scotland.


Posted Aug 26, 15 22:25 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

Not Grand Trunk RR But Related

The lower of the two covers was carried on the Great Western Railway. The original line completed in 1853-54 connected Niagara Falls to Windsor, running by way of Hamilton and London.

This circular from Hamilton would have crossed the new suspension bridge and been exchanged to the trains running from Buffalo to Albany.


Posted Aug 26, 15 22:22 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

Not Grand Trunk RR But Related

The lower of the two covers was carried on the Great Western Railway. The original line completed in 1853-54 connected Niagara Falls to Windsor, running by way of Hamilton and London.

This circular from Hamilton would have crossed the new suspension bridge and been exchanged to the trains running from Buffalo to Albany.


Posted Aug 26, 15 21:57 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)


Reverse, with DLO CDS


Posted Aug 26, 15 21:56 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)

DLO DLO (1854)

Here's another DLO...

March 16, 1854 from Brighton, England prepaid One Shilling with 1847-54 One Shilling Green, addressed to Messrs Firth & Pound, Music Sellers, Franklin Square. No state indicated. Was apparently sent to Philadelphia and advertised (the addressee was actually in New York), unclaimed, and sent to the DLO (marking on reverse, scan #2). Upon its return to England was marked "SENT BACK TO ENGLAND WITHOUT A REASON FOR NON DELIVERY" in orange.


Posted Aug 26, 15 21:22 by David D'Alessandris (davidd)

"Bucketed" Certs

I was researching an unrelated topic in the PF certificate database yesterday when I noticed a familiar looking cover in the database.  A quick check revealed that it was a cover in my collection, and not a similar cover in the same correspondence.  I purchased the cover on eBay but without a cert.  While the PF found that it was a genuine 62B on cover, the cert also called the stamp "creased torn and repaired."  Of course the PF got it right and I completely missed the repair to the stamp.  


Posted Aug 26, 15 20:25 by Kimberlee Fuller (kimberlee)

Grand Trunk Railroad

As an embryonic collector of WNY postal history, I really enjoyed Jim Allen's presentation on the rise and fall of GTR at the APS show in GR. I want to thank David Zlowe and the Classics Society for encouraging me to attend a presentation of this nature. I am inspired by the enthusiasm and quality of historic research continuously exhibited by members of the Classics Society.

While scanning a collection of 2c Black Jack postal stationery today I came across this interesting little tidbit that previously might not have seemed so significant to me were it not for what I just learned about the GTR and its relationship to WNY. I would also like to learn more about NY Central, Erie, Lake Shore and any other lines running through WNY, especially any mail to/from/via my hometown, North Tonawanda, NY. I searched the covers on here and there isn't a single cover to/from North Tonawanda or Tonawanda.

Wallace Johnson's were produce and commission merchants based in Buffalo, NY. They were especially known for their Excelsior Egg Carriers.


Posted Aug 26, 15 17:43 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

A Little More on the C of C Winner

As was noted earlier on this board, in Grand Rapids this past Saturday evening, Mark Schwartz won the APS Champion of Champions award for the best exhibit of the 2014 – 2015 season; “Boston Postal History to 1851.”  This capped an amazing six years for him.

Many may not know that in September 2009 Mark debuted his first ever multi-frame exhibitThe Postal History of Boston to 1851 that subsequently won five National Grand Awards, two FIP Large Gold medals along with the C of C.  He also showed an eight frame exhibit of Essex County Massachusetts Postal History winning a grand and a third multi-framer The Postal History of Salem Massachusetts winning several golds and also three grand awards.  If that is not enough, in his spare time, Mark built and showed several single frame exhibits; two of which won the Champion of Champion awards in 2013 and 2014. 

Below is a picture of Mark receiving his C of C award from David McNamee (left), APS Chief Judge and Stephen Reinhard, APS President and Chief Judge emeritus. 


Posted Aug 26, 15 13:58 by Dave Savadge (nomad55)

DLO - Australia 2

From the DLO in Washington DC to New York, the PO cover used to return the cover to the sender.  DLO opened the original cover and found the sender's address on the letter.  The letter still remains with its cover.


Posted Aug 26, 15 13:56 by Dave Savadge (nomad55)

DLO - Australia 1

From my friend's collection.


Posted Aug 26, 15 12:56 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

Dead Letter


Posted Aug 26, 15 9:47 by Richard Drews (bear427)

Both sides

When there are important markings on both sides of a cover, a simple rule of thumb is to show the side of the cover that is most relevant to the exhibit or most directly advances the exhibit story line. Then either illustrate the important markings or show a reduced color copy of the other side. On the page I'm including here, the block of 8 on the reverse is more important in my traditional exhibit, demonstrating use of a large multiple on cover. If I had been doing a postal history exhibit, I would have shown the obverse, focusing on the territorial use and have shown a color copy of the reverse where the block would demonstrate that the total of 10 cents had been paid for the proper rate.



Posted Aug 26, 15 9:23 by Bob Bramwell (rudy2donline)



A followup question: should we understand that returns from other country's DLOs were always under cover and the double circle DLO / F.D. U.S.A. was applied after the bulk mailing was broken?


Posted Aug 26, 15 9:22 by Bob Bramwell (rudy2donline)


Rob F.

Delightful presentation.  What do you do when important markings are on both sides of a piece?  I have several covers with multple markings on both sides.  Here's a very elementary one:

Don't know what to make of the "L" in the pointing finger Return mark since the addressee's name is Fullick.  The red manuscript is "Try G.P,O," applied in Sydney.


Posted Aug 25, 15 22:16 by Rob Faux (robfaux)


Bob B,
Not quite what you are looking for, but bringing up the subject gives me an excuse to share.


Posted Aug 25, 15 20:04 by Alan Campbell (alan campbell)

Count Le Diable

Count Le Diable, aka Count Diablo, aka Quincy Quiverly, was actually the money changer Warren R. Taylor. His large correspondence survives, including many registered letters from the Redemption Division of the Treasury Department.

Posted Aug 25, 15 19:36 by Cary Johnson (fastmail)

Manuscript rules

Thanks Bob for the tips.  I am glad to know the year related to rule one as I have a number of addressed letters without the state designation.

Thanks to all others " To B or not to B" was the manuscript question. :-)