Message Board

Time Period:   Username Search:
Order By: Keyword Search:
   Reset Filters


Page:1 2

Posted May 26, 18 18:14 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

1921 Cairo - Baghdad Air Mail

This is the subject of the feature article in the July 2018 Smithsonian Air & Space magazine, with wonderful photographs.

Posted May 26, 18 14:58 by Gregory Shoults (coilcollector)

Scott 351

Ken, after talking another look, I believe you are correct. The date is June 16, 1909. The receiving backstamp is dated June 18, 1909, Sherman, TX. This moves the date up 79 days from the previous EDU.

Posted May 26, 18 14:43 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Scott 351

Looks like JUN 16, with big ball serif

Posted May 26, 18 14:17 by Gregory Shoults (coilcollector)

Largest Known Multiple/Franking

Another recent addition, a registered cover with a strip of 4 for the 4 cent Scott 354. According to the PSE and PF records there are 7 covers with the 4 cent Scott 354. 1 solo use, 1 pair, 4 with a strip of 3, and 1 with a strip of 4. The new cover is a quadruple rate, 10 cents registry fee and 8 cents for 4 times the first class rate.


Posted May 26, 18 14:02 by Gregory Shoults (coilcollector)


Recent discovery, a new EDU has been established for the 5 cent vertical coil, Scott 351. This cover came from an old time collector and was recently given a clean PF. The old EDU date for a 351 was 9/3/1909, the new date is 6/18/1909, moving it up 77 days earlier. This was a nice addition to the exhibit since it now fills 1 of 2 stamps on cover that are missing from the exhibit. The last stamp needed is the 10 cent 356 on cover.


Posted May 26, 18 13:56 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Provisionals -- spreak clearly, troop

Temporary postmarkings used after a flood or fire, say around 1900, surely qualify as provisional stamps. What they do not qualify as is franking stamps.

Surely PAID (with value indicated) markings used on covers when franking labels or stamped envelopes were required are provisional franking stamps. What they are not is pre-use (customer storable) franking devices.

Three categories of preuse franking stamps are those sold as labels (the New York provisional), those sold as franked envelopes (the earlier New York provisional), or those sold by franking a customer supplied envelope. My understanding is that both latter categories are accepted as provisionals. With a unique item (the Shoobota Provisional), it may be possible to establish that the marking was provided by the PO before the letter was added, but not who provided the envelope. (Another interesting case is rerates).

I am not sure where Ken is drawing his line.

The earliest Franking labels in the US that I am aware of were used around 1840 or a little earlier

Posted May 26, 18 13:30 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)


I don't think anything I wrote suggested an orderly transfer of authority, and I took for granted that the United States postal agents performed their duties as they understood them. That's what makes your covers interesting, whether or not they complied with postal regulations (and in that respect makes them counterparts to many bisect uses that were accepted and tolerated contrary to proper practice).

Furthermore I have always regarded the Puerto Principe stamps as provisionals in the explicit meaning of the term, which helped highlight the distinction.

Nevertheless I'm pleased to have learned more about the 1898-1899 events in Cuba.

Posted May 26, 18 12:31 by Yamil Kouri (yamil kouri)

Stamps Not Available

I did not want to continue this discussion indefinitely, but you raise a valid point.

When stamps were not available, the norm was to send them unpaid, like the soldier's letter below sent in March 1899 from a military post without mail facilities in Niquero, Cuba, to Baltimore via Manzanillo. The chaplain who endorsed the letter wrote "Stamps not obtainable" and the addressee was charged two cents. Domestic correspondence from U.S. troops was exempt from the postage due penalty of double the deficiency. The vast majority of places where stamps were not available sent their mail unpaid.

The rare exception, which in the case of Cuba only took place in Gibara and Puerto Principe, was the production of provisional stamps. Coincidentally, this is the subject of an ongoing discussion in the journal of the U.S. Possessions Philatelic Society (Possessions), following a series of excellent but provocative articles by Bill DiPaolo dealing with some of the provisional stamp issues in Puerto Rico.

Your assumption, which I believe is shared by Bill DiPaolo, is that there was an orderly transfer of power and control of public services from Spanish civilian authorities to U.S. military personnel. The reality is that in the first few months of the U.S. occupation of Cuba and Puerto Rico, as U.S. troops took possession of population centers vacated by the Spanish government, chaos and confusion were commonplace.

In many places U.S. troops reached towns and cities long before postal clerks were designated to these places. In late-1898 there were only a handful of experienced postal clerks from the New York Post Office and the Railway Mail Service in Cuba, so the U.S. military had to choose whether to take over this responsibility or to allow the Spanish colonial post offices to continue to operate. Early on the old Spanish colonial postmarks continued to be used, even on covers franked with U.S. stamps.

The Department of Posts quickly established 39 military postal stations throughout the island, but during the Spanish administration there were more than 300 post offices in Cuba, leaving the old colonial post office in operation for several months in many towns.

To get to my main point, the U.S. military, the ultimate authority in the island, even over postal matters (at least initially), was forced to make decisions on the ground without consulting the PL&Rs. U.S. troops arrived in the large city of Puerto Principe (with over 25,000 inhabitants) on November 24, 1898, but the U.S. military postal station in this city was not created until December 15. The U.S. military governor of the province, Brigadier General R. Carpenter, authorized the local Spanish colonial postmaster, Lope Recio-Loynaz to purchase a number of Cuban stamps from the local branch of the Banco Espanol and surcharge them to be used for postage, creating the famous Puerto Principe provisional issues.

To make matters even more interesting, the first U.S. troops started arriving in Havana on November 26, 1898, and the U.S. military postal station opened for business there on December 15. However, by the Treaty of Paris the Spanish did not have to evacuate Cuba and relinquish control of all public services until January 1, 1899. So for about two weeks there were two parallel postal services operating in the Cuban capital and franking their correspondence with their respective American or Cuban stamps.


Posted May 26, 18 7:54 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)


No need to end the discussion there. The covers are splendid whatever they are called, which is part of the point I tried to convey earlier. (Certainly more interesting than the Woodstock cover that started the exchange.)

If the Gibara markings were struck by a United States postal clerk at a United States postal station, they were contrary to PL&R instructions. The authorized procedure for posting letters when no stamps were available was to send them collect rated postage due.

As an aside, this is an example of the weakness in our exhibiting rules, which place a premium on terse text. At the very least, an exhibitor of a Gibara cover ought to explain it, not simply call it "provisional."

Posted May 26, 18 7:17 by Yamil Kouri (yamil kouri)


Thank you Ken for your clarification, and I will end my comments on this issue with this post.

Although the Gibara handstamps may not conform to the narrow definition applied to U.S. postmasters provisional stamps, these hand struck devices were not merely used as paid markings. The three-line handstamps on the covers I have shown already indicate that the postage was paid and that no regular postage stamps were available. One of the covers also has a captured Spanish colonial town circular datestamp.

These circular markings indicate that they are valid postage and have a specific denomination. Their use was equivalent to a postage stamp. On double-weight letters they were applied twice. They were used for a brief period of time on a provisional basis until a supply of U.S. stamps arrived in late-December 1898.

Perhaps the fragments in the Cuban Postal Museum, one of which I illustrate below, represented mint examples of these provisional stamps.

In the specialty of U.S. Possessions they are widely accepted as provisional postage, along with the surcharged Puerto Principe stamp issues of Cuba and several other examples used in Puerto Rico.


Posted May 26, 18 6:55 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)


Almost everyone in our hobby likes to collect unusual nonstandard items in our areas of specialty, whether or not they reflect official creation or authorization by a postal administration. Tolerated use of bisected stamps is an obvious example.

Often the allure of tagging nonstandard items with impressive labels proves irresistible. The widespread habit of calling stamps that display the effects of ephemeral manufacturing slipups "errors" is an example of that.

Sometimes inflated labels become accepted by custom. I'm guessing that's the case with Yamil's Gibara covers, but I don't know enough about them to be confident.

Nevertheless, carelessly applying a term that has an explicit definition ought to be resisted. "Provisional" has been applied recklessly to a surprising amount of unauthorized stuff that passed unmolested through the mails.

On at least two occasions in the 1980s and 1990s Linn's was embarrassed by published free-lance reports that alleged certain postal artifacts to be provisional because they had been created or accepted by postmasters. One was a 0.1¢ PAID marking struck on bulk letters franked with 10.9¢ stamps after the per-piece minimum had increased to 11¢. The other was a POSTAGE DUE postage validation imprinter strip. In both instances Linn's had to follow with a sheepish apology to readers.

The 1851 Woodstock cover is hard to credit by the accepted definition of postmaster's provisional, but had Carroll Chase or Robert Siegel adduced evidence that the postmaster had sold unused envelopes struck with that device for 3¢ I would accept that it might qualify as an unauthorized tolerated provisional.

Posted May 25, 18 22:20 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

That isn't the distinction. Postal stationery provisionals were sold unused as stamped envelopes. That's different from stampless covers, which is what your examples appear to be. If they were sold unused for later posting they would be provisionals.

Posted May 25, 18 18:08 by Yamil Kouri (yamil kouri)

Postmasters Provisionals

Ken, I know the typical postmaster provisionals were adhesives, but every rule has some exceptions. The Annapolis and Baltimore postmasters provisional stamps were also handstamped directly on the envelopes, just like the Gibara examples I just showed.

Posted May 25, 18 17:30 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)


Perhaps your specialty uses a nonstandard definition. In United States philately a postmaster's provisional is a postage stamp or a piece of postal stationery, not merely a postage (pre)paid marking struck on an envelope, card, or wrapper.

Posted May 25, 18 15:00 by Yamil Kouri (yamil kouri)

Gibara provisional - foreign use

Lastly, this letter was sent to Mexico City and forwarded to Puebla.

In all of these instances the provisional stamps were accepted as valid by the postal clerks in Cuba (both in Gibara and Havana), the United States and Mexico.


Posted May 25, 18 14:57 by Yamil Kouri (yamil kouri)

Gibara provisional - civilian use to the United States

Like the cover on my first posting on this subject, this is a double-weight letter with two strikes of the provisional stamp, in this case the 5 cent denomination.


Posted May 25, 18 14:54 by Yamil Kouri (yamil kouri)

Gibara provisional - civilian use within the island

It is very unlikely that a mourning cover would be pre-stamped.


Posted May 25, 18 14:52 by Yamil Kouri (yamil kouri)

Portability criterion for provisional stamps

Portability is not always a requirement for the classification of a handstruck stamp device as provisional, as illustrated by the following examples.

During the Spanish American War two provisional rubber handstamps were used in the town of Gibara, Cuba, for about a month, under the authority of the US military government.

One stamp had a 2 cent denomination, for use on correspondence within the island or on soldiers' mail to the United States, and the other had a 5 cent denomination, for civilian mail to the United States or foreign mail in general.

Four examples are known on cover and there are two fragments, one of each denomination, in the Cuban Postal Museum collection.

Here is a double-weight soldier's letter addressed to the United States. The provisional stamps, and auxiliary straightline markings justifying the use of the stamps, were clearly applied on the envelope after the address had been written on it. This was also the case on the other covers that I will show.


Posted May 24, 18 19:29 by Alan Campbell (alan campbell)

Pronunciation of "ch" in "Michel"

An "aspirated throaty fricative"? Sure hope the waiter was trained in the Heimlich maneuver!

Posted May 24, 18 17:18 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

CSA "Handstamped Paid" and Woostock not provisionals


I replied to Bill Duffney's posts about the recent Siegel sale of the Woodstock cover, previously described by Carroll Chase and Bob Siegel as a postmaster's provisional.

Michael was right. The essence of postage stamps and postal stationery is their portability.

If an envelope struck with one of those devices could be purchased unused for later use, it was a postmaster's provisional. If that can't be demonstrated, it doesn't qualify.

Perhaps you could regard the Woodstock cover as a postmaster's convenience if you accept Chase's and Siegel's deduction that the Paid marking was struck before the contents were inserted.

Posted May 24, 18 16:46 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Banknote registered cover.

Incidentally, per ink, it looks like the stamps verso were cancelled at origin, confirming, if such need be, that they were on there from the git go.

Posted May 24, 18 16:43 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Lawrence comment

Ken, I am not sure what triggered your comment. Michael is historically off base -- handstamps were stamps as far as the PO was concerned. Also, his use of the strict "at all" with reference to the three cent provisionals is hard to justify, as these offices were operating under CSA authority at the time. Or at least the CSA thought so.

Posted May 24, 18 14:45 by Louis Fiset (louisfiset)

Serdy Query

The town name Michael Serdy is looking for is "LaPush."

Posted May 24, 18 14:37 by Michael Serdy (golfduffer)

Town help

Thank you Mike, it will make my mounting page pop. Regards,Mike

Posted May 24, 18 14:29 by Barry Jablon (friday)

Cancel help

This isn't listed. Has anyone seen another? Thanks


Posted May 24, 18 14:18 by Mike Ellingson (mikeellingson)

town help


added: With credit to Jim Forte's site

Posted May 24, 18 14:16 by Michael Serdy (golfduffer)

Town help

Looking for the name of the town in Clallam County in Washington state that had this Indian School. Any idea's. My reference books does not approach this town anywhere near"La???? in Clallam County. Any help will be appreciated.


Posted May 23, 18 19:37 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

New APS President

As reported by Foster Miller on the Delphi Stamp Collecting Forum, Bob Zeigler was elected APS President by a 6-4 vote, defeating Peter McCann. Zeigler replaces Gen. Mitchell Zais, who resigned to take his new United States government position as Deputy Secretary of Education. Zeigler will appoint a person to fill the empty seat on the APS Board subject to confirmation by the Board.

Posted May 23, 18 18:12 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

Hamilton at the NPM

Starting on the 25th of May there is a Hamilton exhibit opening at the National Postal Museum. Should be great and includes the dueling pistols used in the Burr-Hamilton duel that killed Hamilton. See:

Posted May 23, 18 14:46 by Michael Schreiber (michaelschreiber)

How to pronounce the surname Michel, as in the stamp catalog

Say MICH-el with the accent on the first syllable.

The ch is sounded like the ch in "Ach, meine Liebe." or the ch in Johan Sebastian Bach.

There are many short tutorials on YouTube that will tell you how to pronounce the German ch.

MICH rhymes with the German words ich, sich, dich, and mich (the accusative first person pronoun).

In German, the ending ch sound is an aspirated throaty fricative, with air forced out between the tongue and the back palate, but it is not voiced.

The ending ch sound is not a hard K or an sh sound, as at the beginning of the English euphemisms Sheesh! or Shoot! or Shucks!

Some dialects of German, however, do pronounce the ch ending as if it were sh. Berliners are apt to say it that way, I believe.

Posted May 23, 18 14:23 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Prexie Era Postal History Treasures album

Thanks to Ellen Peachey for sending and to Richard Frajola for processing and posting, a PDF file of my album is here. This is the album I presented to the Prexie Era gathering at Philatelic Show in Boxborough a couple of weeks ago.

The file here will not satisfy browsers as well as the actual album, which allows viewers to read the descriptions on pages that face the front sides of the covers, but this is the best I can offer in digital form. 

Part of it is intended as my example of an alternative to exhibiting as we practice it, which I shall elaborate later. Part of it is to suggest that a "great hits" presentation, in which each individual item has a story of its own but with no overall narrative, is or ought to be as welcome a way to present material as the way our exhibiting rules require. (Though this doesn't reach his level, keep in mind that Bill Gross won the Washington 2006 grand prix with a greatest-hits exhibit that had no actual story.)

Posted May 23, 18 13:26 by Lawrence Gregg (ecovers)

Michel Catalog

Here is an interesting card from Germany. Airmail from the Weimar Republic (1919 to 1933), to Koln. A distance of about 400 kilometers.

Interesting to me is the Michel catalog illustration that fits nicely in the box of philately related stuff.

How do you pronounce Michel? To me I think it is a soft "ch" (like Mishell) but I have heard it pronounced with a hard ch like Mikkel.


Posted May 22, 18 18:08 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

E7 on post(al) card

I've added mine to the census, along with a few other items.

Posted May 22, 18 18:04 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Provisional conundrum

More than half of those arguments have been undercut by delisting the Confederate "Handstamped Paid" markings as postmasters' provisionals. See Michael Laurence's review here, page 95. That doesn't leave a lot of lingering precedent to support the claim.

Added: Put more explicitly, why would you think the postmarked envelope was sold as unused prepaid?

Posted May 22, 18 11:41 by Chad Snee (atgpac)

10¢ Banknote cover query

Hello, Russ and Richard:

Thanks much for your observations. It's always an education to drop in here.



Posted May 22, 18 9:47 by Mike Ludeman (mml1942)

E7 on postcards

Michael G:

Assuming it does not violate any of Richard's guidelines regarding posting of non-owner covers on his Census, why not post the scans of these E7 postcards in his Census. You might include some common indicator like "E7 postcard census" with each to allow their retrieval as a group. I think we'd all be curious to see such an uncommon item.

Posted May 22, 18 8:59 by Michael Gutman (mikeg94)

E7 on postcards

Richard Matta, thanks for your info. Count is now up to 9.

St Paul to Minneapolis 8/18/09 Washington DC to Washington DC 6/12/09 France to Tuscaloosa AL 8/17/09 Pope Valley CA 1/11/10 Brockton MA to Buffalo NY 10/16/09 Washington DC to Washington DC 5/15/09 Burlington IA used locally 12/22/09 Valley ND to Minneapolis 12/12/12 Granite VA used locally 2/7/10

Posted May 22, 18 8:26 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Overfranked Cover

Chad - I agee with Russ. Most likely overfranked before posting - possibbly franked once on reverse and then again by person who took to the post office because he did not see franking on back?  Nothing but guesses possible I  think.

Posted May 22, 18 7:34 by Russ Ryle (hoosierboy)

re: 10¢ Banknote cover query

Morning Chad and all,

Do not know of any reason the eight cents postage on the back of this item is related to it being a registered cover. The Boston marks may be a receiving mark not related to the postage paid? Not sure where or when the four two cent stamps were cancelled. Unlikely the cover was heavy enough to need five units of first class postage. May have been connected to a small parcel but no sign of attachment. May just be a sender error who over franked the item to start with?

Speculation may be the best that we can do since we were not a fly on the wall when this item was posted.

Best regards, Russ Ryle

Posted May 21, 18 20:12 by Ginny Nightingale (ginnyflo)

watermark scan

David H.

Just for fun, I tried this with a UX1 postcard. I thought the paper stock would be too thick for any results. Desk lamp bulb is 40W.


Posted May 21, 18 20:10 by Ginny Nightingale (ginnyflo)

watermark scan

David H.

I hope I don't horrify any members with my methods.

I have a flatbed scanner. I make sure all my settings are correct including area to be scanned. Then I turn on the desk light and scan. I crop and do adjustments in my imaging software. The only thing I regret is not having a piece of glass to hold the item flat if needed.


Posted May 21, 18 19:35 by Chad Snee (atgpac)

10¢ Banknote cover query, continued

Here's the back of the cover shown below. Question: Why was 8¢ additional postage applied to the back upon arrival in Boston?


Posted May 21, 18 19:34 by Chad Snee (atgpac)

10¢ Banknote cover query

Here's the front. Not much to capture the attention, other than a decent strike of the star fancy cancel. It's the back, shown in the next post, that intrigues me.


Posted May 21, 18 18:15 by David Handelman (davidh)

watermark scan

Ginny, was there any special technique you used to obtain a scanned watermark? When the watermark is relatively faint, simply scanning doesn't reveal anything.

I had thought about the following idea. Get a sealable top-loading mylar page protector, dump some watermark fluid in with the item to be scanned (it shouldn't hurt mylar), and seal the page protector (so that the watermark fluid doesn't evaporate immediately). But I never got around to testing it (and it seems rather tedious).

Posted May 21, 18 12:39 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

E7 on postal card

I have one on pre-addressed postal card used locally in Granite, VA Feb. 7, 1910

Posted May 21, 18 10:43 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)


I do not scan important pictures, let along philatelic material, other than with a flatbed scanner. I know it is more work but much safer. The risk is just too high.

There is a "have your cake and eat it too" approach.

Lay out the pages and add high-quality flatbed scans of the material to the pages. This way you can print out a copy of the exhibit (or other) pages and when ready to mount just print the pages without the images and mount them. If the exhibit is targeted to the web then you actually never need to mount items at all, keeping them safe and away from corner mounts. It is also easier to send someone the exhibit to give feedback.

A final point, when you go to print the pages for mounting you can use a high-quality print shop giving a better-looking page.

Posted May 21, 18 8:47 by Ginny Nightingale (ginnyflo)

Scan of watermark

Almost as good. (Only example I could grab quickly.)


Posted May 21, 18 6:40 by Stephen T. Taylor (UK) (stevetayloruk)

UX4 contact print

Farley, thanks for that information - here's one of his contact prints where the watermark shows up as dark lines. Sounds like the same process. Steve


Posted May 20, 18 21:15 by David Kent (davekent)

Guam Seals

The items you show are modern local post stamps issued by the stamp club on Guam for philatelic purposes back in the, oh, 1970s and 80s. The club offered them either in mint condition or used on cover (with regular U.S. stamps paying the postage). Most of the covers were cacheted event covers. Sadly most of the active members of the club from that period have passed on.

Posted May 20, 18 20:28 by Dave Savadge (nomad55)

Guam seals

Cleaning out the garage today and in a box found these.

Seals imitating the Guam Guard Mail.

What were they used for? The print on the center design is too small for me to read.


Page:1 2