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United States/Covers & Postmarks : From "The Hoard": An RPO cancellation

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03 Apr 2016
As requested, here's a closer view of a piece spotted in my "The Hoard" postings. Some questions:
..What is an RPO cancel anyway?Is this a particular collectable area? Why?
..What does DEN.NOGDEN (?) represent in the cancel?
..It's from 1892 and in really good shape, which is cool, but does that elevate the market value at all? Seems like a pretty common-ish stamp, I've seen available for about 50c retail on another site.
..Any other pearls of wisdom before I spend (waste?) time looking for more?

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03 Apr 2016
re: From "The Hoard": An RPO cancellation

RPO = Railway Post Office.

Not too many other ways you can combine stamps & trains, eh?

The cancels often specify the route/segment; I'm guessing Denver to Ogden (Utah) for yours, but the correct answer will be coming your way, soon.

Other times, you get the name of the railway, a train number, etc.

Collectors often specialize in one or another route, or railway, or ...


/s/ ikeyPikey

hint: http://postalmuseum.si.edu/ ... and search on RPO

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RPSL, APS, EPA; US, GB, Ireland, British Europe, Italy, Mauritius Classics
03 Apr 2016
re: From "The Hoard": An RPO cancellation

RPO cancels were applied on mail during movement in a Railway Post Office car.

Den & Ogden means Denver, CO and Ogden, UT. The towns on an RPO cancel represent the operating boundaries of the RPO car, and sometimes the train. The designations also are directionless. The fact that Denver is listed first does not mean this cover entered at Denver, was canceled, and taken off at Ogden. It simply means it was canceled in transit somewhere between Denver and Ogden, in either direction. It could have been placed on board in Ogden, canceled and removed one town later, long before Denver.

In later RPO cancels the circle also includes the train number. In yours, it's hard to tell if that's a train number above the year.

They are collectible, although this route is common. The Mobile Post Office Society is the specialist group for this interest, and it has publications that detail known routes and the rarity of the cancels.


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SOR Auctioneer
03 Apr 2016
re: From "The Hoard": An RPO cancellation

I think the numbers in the circular cancel are the date for May or March 31, 1892, is what it looks to me.

Thanks for posting the closeup. A complete cover would be worth more, especially if there were more ancillary markings. I have an RPO cover that I love, because the back of the envelope has an ancillary marking "Train Late".

I agree with what Chris (Anglophile) said. It is a common route, but the RPO service is a piece of our history from the proverbial bygone era though it lasted mostly until the late 1960s and in a small degree into the 1970s. The USPS tried to restart it about ten years ago, and mail service actually got better with faster delivery. However, the trucker's union and airlines complained that they were losing jobs. USPS caved in and the RPO restart was killed.

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