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Posted Apr 8, 21 21:06 by Lawrence Gregg (ecovers)

Provisional - definition

Seems to be some gray area in the definition of the word provisional. Postmaster Robert Morris issued the first postmaster provisional July 1845. Did he issue it in the provision to be used until the federal govt stamps were issued two years later?

Posted Apr 8, 21 17:55 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Confederate postmasters' provisionals.

A PAID handstamp marking is not a postage stamp unless it was printed and sold as such. If simply an indication that postage was paid at the time of mailing it was not provisional, it was standard.

Besides those points, a generic dictionary definition cannot override the definition that a philatelic specialty applies in its vocabulary. The CSA catalog states: "Covers with handstamped paid and rates are evidence that at least some post offices did run out of postage stamps. To meet the demand for stamps, some postmasters went one step further and provided either stamps of local manufacture or handstamped envelopes for use by postal customers as postal stationery as early as mid-February 1861. All such stamps and postal stationery which were prepared in advance of use are known as postmasters' provisionals." [emphasis added]

Considering that the authors of that definition are the experts who render the opinions on CWPH certificates of authenticity, attempting to substitute a different definition cannot advance our understanding of this debate. 

Posted Apr 8, 21 15:20 by Ken Stach (kenstach)

Provisional vs Frank

Definitions, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, in our philatelic context:

Provisional (noun) = a postage stamp for use until a regular issue appears

Frank (noun) = a mark or stamp on a piece of mail indicating postage paid

Based on these definitions, it would seem to me that they are "franks" if applied prior to use and taken from the post office (like the printed franks of so many western expresses). They are all "provisionals" since they were used prior to the issuance and receipt of regular postage stamps.

Posted Apr 8, 21 12:26 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Two town provisionals

I have a CSA provisional which was then reused as different provisional.  I think I have seen one other of this sort.  I wonder how many exist. 

Posted Apr 8, 21 12:23 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Tallboton Paid Covers

I don't understand the logic of calling these provisionals in the sense of prepaid covers taken out of the office before use.  The manuscript Paid 5 or Paid strongly suggests that no official markings were on the covers:  the sender wanted to make sure that it was seen as prepaid, or it may have been in the nature of a charge box notation (small town? -- the PM or clerk may have personally known who the sender was or recognized the destination as associated with someone who had an account,)  The suggestion of this being a provisional is, implicitly, base on the town name in the marking.  Perhaps some of them were provisionals and some not.  I think the manuscript Paid's block the presumption.  No supposed non provisional paid covers are shown for comparison.  Is there some physical evidence of pre addressing marking?
Perhaps I should add that such manuscript sender's paid notations are found on normal stampless era USA covers.  In some cases, the senders marking was not repeated by the PO, so the private marking did official duty.   Also on 1847 issue covers, about 25-30% in the case of 1847 issue RR covers have senders paid notations, sometimes under the stamp, which suggests the stamp was physically attached by the route agent (as also some non route agent covers).  Richard once pointed out that in Europe it was often standard for the  PO to put the franking label on, and it clearly happened here (the Wheeling W. Va 1847 precancel is an example of the stamp being put on at the  PO).  In the PO Assistant that Michael Lawrence published, there is a c1863 discussion of whether the client can insist that the clerk put the stamp on for them.

Posted Apr 8, 21 12:02 by Michael O'Reilly (shamrockhans)

CSA Postmaster Provisionals on the CWPS website

Frank Crown has collected current CSA Postmaster Provisionals census data for 89 provisionals on the Civil War Philatelic Society website at

Every stamp or cover listed in the censuses is illustrated. Each census is a standalone PDF, so feel free to download and use. Extensive provenance and auction sales history data is included for each listing. This data is constantly changing as new data comes to light, and more censuses are in work.

Please check your collections and report new listings or changes to the current listings to Frank at [email protected]

If you have collected census data on your specific area related to the Civil War, we welcome the opportunity to work with you to put it on the CWPS website

Many of the auction catalogs listed in the censuses, including all of the Ferrary sales, are on the CWPS website at

New members are welcome, and can join online at

Frank and I are constantly adding new content to the CWPS website and welcome your comments and suggestions. You can reach us at [email protected]

Posted Apr 8, 21 8:18 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Talbotton HSP / Provisional

David Savadge asked that I upload and link his old article here. The first cover illustrated in his article is the same as  Figure 23 in the Civil War/Confederate journal.  

Posted Apr 8, 21 7:02 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

I wish I could spend more time at the March Party (and I'm here in Cleveland)!  Can't take time off work this year and I'm getting my second shot on Sunday morning, so Saturday is it for me.  On the other hand, as bourse-only the need for volunteers during show hours is much reduced. 

We are, of course, hoping for a successful show, and a return to a more traditional format with exhibits next year.

Posted Apr 7, 21 23:59 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)

US Stamp Shows

Anybody here wish they could go to Garfield-Perry this weekend? Here are some comments on recent and upcoming shows, including G-P.

St. Louis. In the wake of last month's show, there was no mention of it on the APS website, Linns, or postings on this board, unless there was something but I missed it. Quite a contrast from last year's St. Louis show, which was instantly declared a great success. Incidentally, this year's show charged $5 attendance fee, which makes Westpex seem like a great bargain.

Garfield-Perry. In terms of proximity to significant population quantities, this ought to be a relatively successful show, albeit without exhibits or presentations, either in-person or virtual. One aspect of stamp shows that rarely gets discussed is dealer-to-dealer sales, and this should guarantee success for most G-P boothholders, regardless of 'normal' attendance. At least several individuals who regularly post or lurk on this board will be there, so there should be some reliable 'after action' reports, whether or not they appear here. The show's location makes it imperative for at least some important APS person to attend, maybe even for two days. Someone from Amos Media is likely to be there, maybe only for one day, in an attempt to remain relevant. By the way, if anyone offers you long odds on a bet that once inside the show, it will be possible to walk around maskless, do not take this bet. This ain't Missouri.

Pipex. Traditionally held on Mother's Day weekend, this year's show will be entirely virtual. I don't expect it to be any more commercially successful than any of the recent virtual bourses, but guess what? They've scheduled more than three times the number of presentations (in addition to meetings) than in any recent 'normal' Pipex shows. That's not all. By mid-March (two months before the show dates), they had already posted enough exhibit frames on the Pipex website to maintain WSP status. I've been told this is the only WSP show to have done this in the past year of the pandemic. Of course, right after that, APS instituted this new CGS thing, but the Pipex committee has demonstrated that it can be done, but there must be the will to do it.

Minnesota. I've never attended this WSP show, but it's still on the calendar scheduled for July 16-18.

Westpex. Continued optimism this week about California opening up, and I've heard that the show's 70+ booths are nearly all spoken for.

APS Chicago. Having stated that they require a minimum number of socities, exhibit frames, and dealers in order to hold the show, APS is displaying the names of dealers who've signed up on the show's website, and it's growing daily. I've never seen this done before, and it seems like a great idea.

Posted Apr 7, 21 22:45 by David Handelman (davidh)


Bernard, that's a relief. I agree completely.

One possibility as to why it once may have been thought to have been a postmaster's provisional, was its original ownership, as discussed in the article.

Posted Apr 7, 21 22:42 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

3d Canadian

David, that was meant to be humorous.  Your cover is not a provisional and so also, near as I can tell from south of the border, that framed marking.  What I can't understand is why anyone ever thought it was.  At least since the relevant laws, regs, and comps have been available (1929? my copy is in storage, so I can't check it).

Posted Apr 7, 21 22:28 by David Handelman (davidh)

BNA provisional

Bernard, can you please clarify? Are you arguing that it is a postmaster's provisional, or that it isn't? The other cover pictured is and was mine (another, similar one exists), and I'm confident it isn't a postmaster's provisional, just a nice example of a fancy rate marking.

Posted Apr 7, 21 22:02 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Handelman Canada 3 pence article

David -- boy did those guys miss the boat.  The logic that the framed 3 rate is  provisional proves that the 3d marking later in the article is Also a Provisional.   The only alternative would be that 3d confirms that the earlier marking is not.  For those who do not want to plow through the thing, the key points are that there the cover is clearly unpaid (black ink -- I didn't see that they mentioned the color) and it don't say paid.  The extended discussion of the manuscript, clearly post delivery docketing, may be necessary, but is empty.

Posted Apr 7, 21 16:34 by Leonard Hartmann (hartmann)

CSA Postmaster Provisionals

On the handstamped there is no reason the postmaster could take letter and cash in hand and handstampe paid, the next next person in line could have a few blank envelopes to pay the postage and there was no reason for the postmaster to use another handstamp,  just as long as he recognized his marking or the person mailing.

On a stamp or cover today we must always use the best available listings, knowledg, etc. Yes the past history is important but it should not surpas current knowledge.

Yes, on CSA handstamped provisonals the presented example must prove it is a provisional, postage pair some time before mailing, there are many towns that the same marking was used for both, some evident provisionals are not so recognized and others so listed exist as both handstamped paids and provisionals, many combinations.

This is what makes the game fun.

No question, to the buyer and seller the current evaluation may not be as desired but the item must speak for itself.

Posted Apr 7, 21 10:05 by George Tyson (gtyson)

In light of the recent posting on Confederate provisionals, and just for fun, I thought I would show this cover which is a "one off" provisional use. It lacks the control mark of the usual Columbia SC provisionals, but the PAID and the 10 were clearly applied prior to mailing because, well, the cover was never mailed. (Note the absence of a CDS.) These envelopes were sold by guards at the Richland Prison to captured Union soldiers. Since the soldiers obviously couldn't go to the post office to mail their letters, the envelopes that the guards sold were handstamped to indicate that postage had already been paid - presumably by the guards, whom I suspect made a nice profit when they sold the envelopes to the prisoners. In this case, the sender took advantage of an unexpected opportunity to send his letter via a fellow prisoner who had just been paroled. The circumstances under which the letter was carried have been fully documented and are summarized in my write-up of this cover in my "How They Carried the Mails" exhibit on this website.


Posted Apr 7, 21 8:48 by David Handelman (davidh)

postmaster's provisional

There is an echo of the same problem in Canada. The alleged postmaster's provisional of New Carlisle (Canada has no provable postmaster's provisionals) was refuted in 2003: here (pages 5--14). This report concluded the marking was very likely applied at the time of mailing, so was not a pp. Despite this, it sold for 280,000 Euros in 2013! here

Posted Apr 7, 21 7:55 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

"Provisional" defined again

Yesterday’s opening of the American Philatelic Research Library to APS members (no more than three at a time, by prior appointment and approval) for the first time in more than a year wasn’t liberation (entry and indoor safety protocols and paperwork are strict), but it definitely represents more than halfway-house parole for on-site researchers. 

While there, I read the debate between Scott Trepel and Francis J. Crown Jr. concerning so-called Confederate handstamped provisionals in the newly christened Civil War Philatelist (formerly Confederate Philatelist). It should interest followers of this board. 

Although the presentations are lengthy and nuanced, the gist is this: Trepel is aggrieved that the Authentication Service (AS) of the Civil War Philatelic Society (formerly Confederate Stamp Alliance) certified this stampless cover as a “non-provisional use,” on which “The postal markings are Genuine. On this folded letter, the postal markings are used as stampless handstamp ‘PAID 5’ markings at the time of posting.” 

Robert A. Siegel Action Galleries’ 9 September 2020 “Ambassador” sale had described it as: “Tuscumbia Ala., 5c Black entire (84XU1). Neat provisional marking with matching ‘Tuscumbia Ala. Feb. 23’ (1862) circular datestamp on blue folded letter to New Orleans, light vertical file fold at center, minor edgewear, Very Fine, only eight are recorded in the Crown survey, Scott value $4,000.00.” Sold as a Confederate postmaster’s provisional, it realized $850 plus 18 percent buyer’s premium under a $1,000-$1,500 estimate. 

Trepel wrote, “In my opinion, the decision to describe the provisional markings as ‘stampless markings applied at the time of posting’ conflicts with custom and harshly demotes the item’s status. If this AS opinion is intended to establish (or follow) a precedent, it will inevitably lead to inconsistency and confusion as items are certified and recertified. Not only will this stigmatic phrase practically destroy the market value of items to which it is applied, the uncertainty created by the shifting sands of AS opinion could diminish the market value of all handstamped provisionals, without any substantive gain in knowledge or understanding of these artifacts.” 

On his last point, Trepel was surely mistaken. In rebuttal Crown explained clearly and persuasively, beyond this impartial juror’s reasonable doubt, that the markings on the folded letter were struck at the time of mailing, and how that usage differed from handstamped paid markings that were struck in advance of sale and available for purchase and later use. I gained knowledge and understanding from Crown’s careful description of how the experts had evaluated the cover, and how they determined that it was not an example of provisional usage. 

Veterans of this board might recall that on 16 November 2012 I published here my lengthy complimentary review of the Confederate States of America: Catalog and Handbook of Stamps and Postal History by Patricia A. Kauffman, Crown, and Jerry S. Palazolo, published that year by the Confederate Stamp Alliance.

I wrote: “On the plus side, to take one improvement [over the 1986 New Dietz Catalog] as an example, this Board recently discussed an ATLANTA, GEO. PAID 5 postal marking that had been offered for sale as a postmaster’s provisional. Both 1986 and 2012 editions list and price the marking. The 1986 catalog offered scant interpretive guidance, but Brian Green’s review pointed out that ‘some of the handstamped paids might well be provisionals and vice versa.’ The 2012 edition draws clearer distinctions, and adds this cautionary note concerning the Atlanta marking, echoing advice that Frank Crown, Leonard Hartmann, and I posted here: ‘Stampless uses are not easily distinguished from provisional uses. Each example must be considered on its merits’.”

Eight-plus years later (35 years since the misbegotten book that AMERIPEX jurors awarded a gold medal without having read it), the bugler has blown Reveille loudly enough to awaken the ex-Colonels.


Posted Apr 6, 21 11:21 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Why is the July 11 cover so confusing

There are multiple things going on with that cover, that make it hard to analyze.
1)  At the heart of it is the mysterious handling of Cunard covers via Harnden beginning quite a bit earlier
2)  The presence of an obsolete Harnden Boston marking.
3)  This is the first NYC sailing of the Cunard after the US UK treaty went into full lawful effect, although there were three earlier, two of them extralegal, periods of various different handling under or inspired by the treaty.
4)  This is not a typical NYC marking one sees on early treaty mail.

  Two covers for comparison are the 1848 item 19291, in the census and the 1850 cover shown by Ron when he posed his original question.  Which did get lost in the wanderings.  I missed that the postings were 1 April!

Posted Apr 5, 21 23:35 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

July 11. 1849 mailing, sort of

The letter indeed fits well with July 1, 1849 (but not the  postmark).  It doesn't necessarily belong to the envelope, but I think it probably belongs.  Perhaps the simplest interpretation is the the cover moseyed over to nearby Boston, missing the July 4, 1849 Cunard sailing and moseyed on down to New York (under cover?) and got weird handling at the NYPO (no rate), but, by Harnden legerdemain did go on the July 11 (that there was such is a very good sign) Cunard sailing.   Again, anomalous markings at Liverpool, but the Paid marking is very probably of that location.  The Liverpool marking is known 1847-1849, so that is OK.  But near as I can tell, the Boston marking was replaced early in 1846 and has no business on an 1849 cover.  But the preponderance of evidence is that a late use was the case.  Note that, weird as it is, the likelihood that it went on the Cunarder avoids the problem of how NYC was marking or not port of  exit drop letters at the time.   Although another NYC CDS was in use at the time for packet letters, I think this one was also around so is probably not a problem.
Note that there was also a Barre, NY, but the MA address seems more likely, although confirmation of the senders address wouldn't hurt.
Again, the relationship of Harnden, the USPO, Cunard, and the London GPO and L'pool seems passing strange and I have never seen it explained.  Very odd marking sets.

Posted Apr 5, 21 19:49 by Winston Williams (winstonw)

Follow up on July 1, 1849 cover


The letter content convinces me the year is 1849.

The letter reads “I jumped out of my seat & cracked my side, when I read that you would be at home on Christmas 1850. After the passage of 6[?] years, 18 months appears but short”.

July 1, 1849 plus 18 months is January 1, 1851, essentially Christmas 1850.

Posted Apr 5, 21 18:20 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)


I was asked for the scan of the letter inside the enclosed envelope is pictured below. The dateline is Barre (MA) July 1, 1849. One person believed the inside date would be 1844, which it is not. There is a slight chance it is 1846 but I do not think so. Samuel Brimblecome was born on 2 November 1823; the letter was written by his younger brother Charles (b. 10 Feb 1825). He had strong ties in the Boston area and probably went to China already in the employ of Russell & Co.

Samuel was a ship's captain of schooner, Petrel, in the employ of Russell & Co. of Boston. He was stationed at Chinchewwhich China and delt in the Opium trade. It is confirmed that he sailed a ship from China to San Francisco in 1849. For about a year he operated as a merchant (probably again for Russell). Then in 1850 he left San Francisco to return East to be married. In 1861 he returned to California joining his brothers Francis and Edward in business.

Doing some math here, in July 1844 (one option proposed for the date of the letter) Samuel would have been only 21 years old. By that time Samuel would have to have learned seamanship quite well, practiced a little bit, traveled over a year to just get to China, and then quickly hired to captain a ship. Highly improbable. Even two years later in 1846, Samuel would have only been 23 years old.

But in 1849 he would have been 26 years old with experience. History shows that at this time it was not unusual to have become a captain capable of sailing a ship east across the Pacific Ocean. But not at 23 or 21.

I believe logic and the digit on the letter is a "9." 1 July 1849.

I can post the additional interior pages if anyone would like them.


Posted Apr 5, 21 17:46 by Leonard Hartmann (hartmann)

You Grimmarians, Please Help

Thanks David, Ken and others

All advice is correct however "let the crime fit the punishment".
In this case with the two column the quotes were running into several continuous pages and the fact they were quotes is easily lost with the reader. I decided to use the normal " ..." markings versus trying something new

Posted Apr 5, 21 10:55 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

The Canton Discussion

It seems the discussion has gotten more involved than I had originally anticipated. Richard F is correct in asking for some additional scans and I am going to do that and a little more.

Please give me a day or two to pull some covers and other info.

Could folks here check your holdings and send me (offline please) scans of stampless covers to Canton, Shanghai, Philippines, Java, Hawaii, Australia or Hong Kong from 1839 thru 1855 from or transiting GB?

Posted Apr 4, 21 22:21 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

The changing ads and newspaper announcements re Carrington redux.

telegraphic, but ordered.  The point is the advertisements (controlling data) evolved from "Singapore and Canton" to "Canton Direct".  The Price Current announcements evolved from Singapore  (sort of correct) to Canton (correct) to Singapore (not only nonsensical, but evidently wrong).

Posted Apr 4, 21 22:02 by John Barwis (jbarwis)



I read it four times and still cannot follow your point. I have difficulty reading stream-of-consciousness text.

You had seemed surprised that "cleared" did not mean a ship had departed on that day. My only point was to clarify how to interpret "cleared" vs "sailed."

Posted Apr 4, 21 16:13 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

$1 to $5 Columbian Exposition Commemorative Stamps

While looking up a different subject I came upon this 3 January 1893 document in the Travers Papers. I recommend that it be linked it to the Ludeman census so that future experts might be spared the embarrassment of the Philatelic Foundation's 1993 analysis of the large wrapper that has been debated on this board in years past, as well as avoiding a repeat of my own error in believing that the four-pound limit applied to domestic letters as well as foreign.


Posted Apr 4, 21 14:17 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

ship clearance

John B -- see my April 3 posting on Whence.  The listing you post is probably a newspaper confusion.

Posted Apr 4, 21 14:06 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Harnden's and the Cunards

   Ron has said that Harnden's had a special relationship with Cunard.   This would almost of necessity bring the London GPO into the picture.  The cover which is now in a temporary definitive state of non definitive analysis is compatible with that -- or more generally, Harnden handled covers not receiving expected PO markings in the UK.  Does anyone have documentation about what was going on and/or a systematic analysis.  Does this have any relationship with the Ward forwarder markings?
In addition to those of  my shy and secret whisperer, I find the comments on the analytical problems dating and routing sea letters very enlightening an useful.  Winston's story is great and impinges on an aspect that John leaves out but he has written about, at least in part,  pilot boat transits.  These are also mentioned in the Pullin book with different emphasis.
   A related topic is the attempt to accelerate info carried on the Cunarders -- the pigeons that got shot at, the fast boat at Halifax, including routing of information to Canada, and the games with the Boston magnetic telegraph.  (In addition to being cut with evil intent, there is a strange story about someone tying a boat up to the telegraph pole and pulling it down by accident.
   Re New Orleans comment.  There are some other unusual to unique complexities  in the relationship of the Balize and New Orleans in the early 1800s -- not all have been written up.
    Recent reference was rif on J. D. Salinger and not to associates of any board person associate.

Posted Apr 4, 21 13:06 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Error Reading Date

It has been brought to my attention that, in the case of the Harnden letter, the the "answer" my well involve a mis-reading of the letter date.

So, may we agree not to speculate further on this letter before seeing a scan of the dateline of the letter as well as any docket notations ....


Posted Apr 4, 21 12:44 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Ship Clearances


Many thanks for the exta info. It would be great if we had a list of what comprises "arrived" at all ports. Ports with long estuaries are always tricky (Charleston, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia - both for the ship's Captain and the postal historian). Imagine no harbor pilots...

Here is another piece of information on Ship Carrington's sailing for Canton. Note that the official "clearance" was only to the next declared port, in this case Singapore.

Such a declaration did not obviate the right to pull into any port along the way (possibly needing for water or food, illness, ship repairs, etc).


Posted Apr 4, 21 12:12 by Leonard Piszkiewicz (lenp99)

Shipping Dates

John B. makes excellent points about tracking ship movements. I presume his research is in the mid-19th century, but problems with determining dates of ship arrivals and departures lasted well into the 20th century, up to World War II.

“Cleared” vs. “sailed”: “Cleared" means that the local port authorities said it was OK for the ship to leave (all the legal requirements like paying taxes and fees) were met, but “sailed” is when the ship actually left – could be days later.

“Arrivals” depends on how you define the term. The New York Times frequently used the term “Arrived at the Bar” when publishing ship arrivals, which meant the time when the ship reached the shallows outside Lower New York Harbor off Sandy Hook, got a pilot on board to guide the ship through the channels and the Verrazano Narrows to Staten Island, to the Quarantine Station, sometimes anchoring overnight. Beginning 1897, mails would be taken off at Quarantine by the New York Harbor Mail Boat Service and carried by a lighter to the Pennsylvania Terminal in New Jersey, the Battery or Mid-town, and mail could be on the train to Philadelphia before the ship ever docked in Manhattan.

New Orleans is another port where “arrival” dates can be iffy. In the 1890s and into the 20th century, the New Orleans Daily Picayune reported “arrivals” in articles called “The Passes” datelined Port Eads, at the mouth of the Mississippi, a hundred miles downstream from New Orleans. A little later, in the 20th century, ships can be found listed under “Arrived and Not Entered” and then a day later under “Entered.” When were the mails taken off?

Incomplete reporting can also be a problem. Just yesterday I was trying to track down the arrival of an 1894 postal card from British Guiana (see attached) endorsed “Per S.S. Prins Willem IV” in The New York Times and could find no mention of the ship arriving. After an hour of spinning my wheels, I looked in the New York Herald, and found the arrival notice for the date that the card was marked PAID ALL in New York, with the ship’s itinerary and intermediate ports of call nicely laid out (see attached). Intermediate port calls were seldom published and other sources are then needed to pin down exactly where and how a particular ship could have picked up a particular piece of mail from an obscure point of origin. Moral of the story: Sometimes shipping data is deleted when space to publish isn’t available.


Posted Apr 4, 21 9:52 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Shipping Dates

I have spent nearly every day for the past year searching and recording worldwide sailing and arrival dates. When you immerse yourself in such activity, you quickly find that you have requently drifted into in a world of approximations. Hard data are sometimes hard to come by. Here are some examples.

1. Departures. As mentioned yesterday, the difference between a "Cleared" date and a "Sailed" date can range from a few hours to several days. I assume that means that only some reporters went to the Harbormaster and recorded dates from the official logbook. One can easily imagine many reasons for reporting inaccuracies. Many reputable newspapers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, (et al.) made mistakes.

2. Arrivals. One easily can find examples of what a reporter defined as "arrived." At Philadelphia alone, "arrived" in some papers meant that ship had entered the Delaware estuary, nearly 100 miles south of the city - but but did not show up at the city for another day, or more.

Arrival dates also show a range of variations, usually a day but sometimes two. An inbound ship often anchored inside Sandy Hook NJ or Newark Harbor to wait for a slip in New York. Yet a newspaper announced the event as New York arrival

3. Intermediate port calls. It is very common to see, both in newspapers and port-arrival records, that ships stopped at intermediate ports not listed on their departure declaration. Many ships that sailed from the UK had declared for Boston or New York, with no intermediate stops listed. But on arrival at New York their records show stops at one of the Canadaian maritime ports (illness, low on coal, low on water, evade a storm, etc.).

I posit that there was no chance a ship would (or even could) sail from New York to Canton without stopping somewhere along the way - and possibly two or three places. Many (most?) such intermediate calls were not mentioned in the departure data given to, say, Lloyd's or to news reporters. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; ship captains did what they needed to do in an arising situation. For the case of the sailing ship "Carrington," obvious choices for port calls could have been at Pernambuco, Cape Town, Mauritius, Colombo, and Singapore.

Posted Apr 4, 21 8:04 by Rob Faux (robfaux)

Postal History Sunday

Hello everyone!
A new Postal History Sunday post is out and available for those who have interest.
And, for those who observe, have a blessed Easter.



Posted Apr 4, 21 5:00 by Winston Williams (winstonw)

Ship/Mail Arrival Dates

As if sailing dates can be difficult enough, tieing in arrival dates of a letter to a ship can be even more problematic.

I have a cover from Canton addressed to London. The cover arrived in London on April 11, 1837. The ship it went on arrived over a week later at London (Gravesend) on April 20, almost five months after departure.

How come? The mail was initially taken off the ship by a pilot boat in the English Channel. Then the new Post Office steamer (hired at some expense to bring the mail ashore of homeward-bound ships affected by adverse winds in the English Channel) brought the pilot boat to by firing three of its guns, boarded the boat, took off the mail and got into Falmouth the same night, April 9, a Sunday. No respecter for a day of rest! From there the letter was sent to London by mail coach. Thank goodness the cover has markings including a sender’s date and the name of the ship, Asia.

And a Happy Easter to everyone.

Posted Apr 3, 21 23:14 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Talk about off the rails -- July 11. 1849

Is someone out behind the barn laughing at the joke -- we have two Harnden's experts present.  That oval is listed no later than 1846 (incidentally fittting with my failure to find port of exit covers past 1847 and the dubiousness of the CDS for 1849).  It seems to me this may mean the path was New York to Boston .  I do not know the basis, I suspect the attribution of that Paid marking to L'pool is correct.  The page write up does suggest via L'pool.  Not compatible with the direct routing to China by Carrington or anything else, and compatible with my difficulty in finding an appropriate China sailing going back to 1844 or earlier.
So instead of New York to China, presumably from Boston, and sailing for Canton on July 2, 1849, we have a letter leaving New York on July 11, (1842 -1846?) for Boston, Liverpool, and Canton.  Geezooey and Franey. 
Perhaps a source of  confusion for 1849 in the zone would be 1844?
PS -- looking at  Richard's article, the best fit I can find is for the 1842-4 period.

The Boston Cunard departures were consistently on July 16 in period.  Doesn't help much.  Again, the actual dateline, if the content belongs, might be useful.

Re Harnden -- there were of course private posts before 1839, and the govt ran real expresses (special trips) beginning in Colonial times.  I have PO special express sending  of packet +ship mail Boston-NY (PO) from the 90s I have exhibited.  The PMG letters from the 1800s show many PO expresses unknown to philately,  The 1836 to NO is well known, and John B has written up part of the story of some efforts in the late 30s. Others I have exhibited were Cunard arrivals at Boston followed by special trains or steamers.

Posted Apr 3, 21 17:27 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Carrington and the question of Harnden's and Whence

Athough I think it likely the Carrington did not carry the letter,  there is another aspect of the voyage that is analytically interesting.  The question is what was known to the general public in advance.   On June 2 (adv dated Je 2), the Comm Ad announces the "new and fast"  [this was not a first voyage} Carrington for Singapore and Canton  "will be despatched 15 d[?] of June.  Soon after, a similar adv appeared in Philly (but I didn't find it in Boston).  Also on June 2 the PC, under Vessel Up For Foreign Ports, the desination is given as Singapore.  But on June 9 it is listed in the PC as Canton.  A June 15 adv dated Je 12 now has it For Canton Direct. (note that the later reports from other ships give it at Canton, Hong Kong, and Whampoa).  Oddly, a final notice in the PC of June 30 has it as Singapore again.
The point is that, when searching for appropriate ship for the letter, Canton may or may not be  the most productive term to search.  Harnden's NY would have been able to, more rather than less, keep up on this.   Also,  out of town papers and contact with Harnden's in Boston (I assume they had a NY office) could have been part of the story.

Posted Apr 3, 21 15:46 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Sailing dates

It's often difficult to know the real sailing date. A ship that is "cleared" may sail a few hours later, or several days later.

A ship that has "sailed" will sometimes be cited in different newspapers as having done so on different dates. I almost always favor the date published at the departure port; everywhere else gets their information second hand. The frequency of such disparities decreased after the telegraph became widely used.

One will sometimes see a published sailing date that differs from the Captain's report at his destination. In such cases I favor the Captain's logbook as the most accurate source.

Posted Apr 3, 21 13:31 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Indented quotes

Standard style calls for a smaller font, which then makes it clear. See the long indented quotes in my Linn's articles in the April 19 issue now on-line.

In my Chronicle articles, Michael Laurence not only reduces the point size; he also uses boldface for indented quotes.

Text is easier to read in columns than in full letter-size page width. The solution to David's dilemma is to wrap the type around illustrations that are not column-wide.

Posted Apr 3, 21 13:26 by David Handelman (davidh)

long quotes

This is typography,not grammar. For long quotations, don't use the quotes symbols (" or ', depending on US or UK) at all, but set it off, perhaps to the right or left, perhaps with a slightly smaller typeface (e.g., if the main text is in 10pt, use 9 pt), and corresponding line spacing (space between the lines). The standard reference for this and practically all typographic conventions in use in English is Robert Bringhurst, The elements of typographic style, various editions; I see one copy is available for about $20 + shipping in the US.

And my personal opinion is to avoid multiple columns (except for very wide pages), as it causes all sorts of problems. For example, if a wide image is inserted---does it belong to the left column or the right column? and what happens if a wide image has to be inserted in the right column but above an earlier wide image which goes into the left column? Not to mention increased frequency of rivers of white, hyphenation (not bad by itself, just too much of it), extra wide word spaces, widows, ...; of course, all these problems can be solved, but it involves more work).

Posted Apr 3, 21 13:06 by Leonard Hartmann (hartmann)

You Grimmarians, Please Help

In publishing a quote is often set in however for a long quote in a two column format this doesn't work as it is no longer evident that it is a quote

is it acceptable to add  ["    in instead of just " or is there something preferable

italics is often hard to read as and bold indicated too much emphasis

Posted Apr 3, 21 12:20 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Not July4, but apparently July 2

In the Boston paper for the 4th (bogus Independence Day), under NYC for the 2d (true Independence Day) is the Sailling of the Carrington.  My faith in clearance dates as dates of departure is crushed.


Posted Apr 3, 21 12:13 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Port of Exit Letters

Richard and I are probably the only people who have thought about PO port of exit letters and I am surely the only one who has assembled a large sample of postmarked (and thereby confirmed) uses.  My evidence shows that these were never postmarked (there is one postmarked in error from the 1770s) except at NYC beginning in 1838  (Before, I would add, PO freight money), but I have not found examples after 1847.  However, there are reasons the uses should have been less common, so I do not claim 1847 was the last year.  (Also, the late uses are a bit harder to spot.).   Still, 1849 is a bit of an outlier.
One question is whether each relevant letter was marked, or just stack top letters.  Not relevant question here.   But also, how were these mails made up?  Did they know in advance which ship was going to be the one and what date?  Did they date them, because of uncertainty of departure, upon receipt?  Otherwise they had to assume the date of expected day departure (which they may or may not have had and which may or may not have happened).  Or, waited til the ships agent walked in the door rarin' to go.  Thus, a July 11 may have gone on board that day or sat around waiting for prince charming.  But Harnden's and, maybe the sender, may have had something specific in mind.  (I have not analyzed the covers with this problem in mind.)

Posted Apr 3, 21 11:46 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Carrington to Hong Kong, Canton, Whampoa

     That's interesting cause I found a mass of stuff on the voyage that I haven't entirely sorted out.  Where did Maury get the info -- because multiple refs give departure as "abt July 1" -- are these from the reporting vessels or thrown in by the reporter? -- because the first encounter reported -- at sea on Sept. 25 give the sailing date as "abt July 1" But  83d -- which, according to my math works out to July 4.  Did Maury derive from that same newspaper  notice, which could be right, but is a little iffy.
     I still would like conclusive evidence that the year is 1849, as the marking is still too late for a July 4 departure.  In addition to the dateline, were all three markings in use in 1849?  Although I have not found port of exit post 1847, by 1849 there is material for the Cunard and a different CDS is in use, and sometimes in black.
     Of interest is an AUG 30 with NYC CDS but No Rate and going out, Not from NYC, but via Boston.  The evidence seems to be that Ron's letter left from New York, but the dateline, if the letter belongs, might nail that down.  That is, based on PO markings alone, it does not have to be a NYC ship departure.
     One rather far fetched explanation would be that the two digit dates were made with two separate slugs, and that on the 1st (or the 30th for next day's mails) the clerk couldn't find the right slug, and used two "1" with one set high to blind it, but not quite high enough.   Very maybe.  The CDS is a "11" of some sort and not a normal "1."

Posted Apr 3, 21 9:42 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Ship Carrington

See the Maury chart here. It lists the Carrington departed NYC on July 4, 1849 and "crossed the line" 29 days later enroute to Canton by a "new route". A very fast ship (substantially faster that the other listed vessels and routes) built in Providence, RI in 1847. That ship would have been my choice to get a letter from Boston to Canton in July 1849.

Posted Apr 2, 21 22:58 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

1849 Canton

A review of the 1847 census for single digit day dates April to November, 1849 shows zero out of 68 with off center day dates.  This raises the question of the year date of the cover.  Does the content belong.  What does the dateline look like?  What are the date ranges of the three markings.  I mentioned at the beginning that I have not seen port of exit covers with CDSs that late.

Posted Apr 2, 21 15:31 by Richard Drews (bear427)

proof or stamp

The printing quality is excellent in your scan. That limits the possibilities to a proof or a very early impression. Did you carefully check references to see if plate proofs were pulled on the same paper that was used to print the issued stamps? Only a few of our earlier stamps had proofs pulled on stamp paper, and many of these were trial colors or differed in thickness. In the U. S. we did not use watermarked paper until the 1890s. Most of our proofs were on India or card stock. I don't have quick access to references on Barbados printing records. Hope this will help. Rich

Posted Apr 2, 21 13:46 by Henrik Mouritsen (dkcollector)

Barbados plate proof block or block of issued stamps?

Dear board members,

How do I determine whether this block is a block of 4 of SG12a or a block of 4 of the plate proof for SG 12/12a?

Best wishes, Henrik Mouritsen


Posted Apr 2, 21 13:15 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Except that it is Jul 11, 1849

Whilst viewing the apparent wreckage of my thoughts on the Cipolla July 1849 cover (a cover I covet), I had a thought and turned to the USPS' magnificent 1847 census.   Although there is no July 1, the single digit dates available for July, 1849 consistently are centered under the month.   And the July 11 examples look about right.  My conclusion is that the marking is 90+ percent July 11, and that the June 30 entry is unlikely as the correct transit.
Added -- Ron, is there a dateline on that content?

Posted Apr 2, 21 12:24 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

Stamp Shows

Today the CDC said that for fully vaccinated individuals travel is low risk. This is great news for upcoming shows. I hope everyone is getting vaccinated and plan to attend a stamp show this summer. For example WESTPEX July 30 in Burlingame CA and the APS Stamp Show in Chicago 12 August. And many other great shows following. The Key is getting vaccinated!!

Looking forward to seeing you at a show!

Posted Apr 2, 21 12:05 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

1849 to Canton

It still looks to me like the NYC marking is July 11.  I can find no appropriate sailings from NYC or Boston or elsewhere.   Nor for July 1.  However, it has been pointed out to me that there was a sailing from NYC on June 30.  That is a quite improbable (misdatings usually go the other way), but if I am wrong about the "11", and in the absence of alternatives,  perhaps the solution.
Added re Richard's posting.  That is not July 1, but June 30 "forenoon."  Howsomever, I have been informed most interestingly that clearance (an official act) precedes physical departure.  Perhaps they waited til the next day to cast off.  Still looks to me like there is an additional 1 there.  The farfetched explanation, if that is correct, might be that the first 1 was deliberately raised, acting as a (nearly) blank, although I doubt that the retaining screw required such to clamp?

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