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United States/Covers & Postmarks : RIP Town Cancels !

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
03 Aug 2016
04:29:59pm

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Sigh! As a town cancel collector I'm in mourning! I'm not sure how many years ago the USPS pulled cancellation machines out of all of local post offices, but today all the mail is delivered to the big processing centers and run through the cancellation machines there.

Many folks here know I collect New Jersey town cancels. I'm up to three albums at this point and many 100s of covers. I started this collection when I was in my teens and although I hadn't collected stamps in years, I kept all the covers that came in our mails and would add a new cancel to the collection which was in a shoe box.

The collection has a lot of family history in it. Mail sent to my family for many generations, old family addresses and names, names and long gone addresses of friends of ours too. In fact one source was the RSVP cards for my wedding in 1981.

My daughter is getting married on Saturday. Thus, she had sent out wedding invitations with stamped RSVP cards. I asked her to save them for me, hoping to add some to my NJ cover collection. She was a trooper! On our last visit, she handed me a large plastic bag full of perfect covers. She even cut open an end carefully just like I would! A total of 75 of them. And we won't even get into the number of clods who either responded via email or we had to chase down for an answer!

And here's where we went down the road to no good.....

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There seems to be just TWO postmarks for the entire state of New Jersey. The Daniels mail processing center is near Newark, NJ up north. The Trenton one is, well near Trenton, NJ down south. I have 41 Daniels postmarks and 22 Trenton! Not a town cancel to be found anywhere!

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From outside of New Jersey I received just 7 covers, representing 6 different postmarks. I have a duplicate of the New York City one.

We also received 5 covers back with no cancel at all (no photo required - just imagine it). So an entire run of 75 covers yields just 7 unique postmarks!

I hadn't been keeping the regional center postmarks with my NJ collection. I guess I now need to start a section for those to include my daughters cover. It will be a one page section. I see I will be collecting older covers, or cancels across the postal counter to keep adding to my collection. It's sad that I won't get any more in my mail!




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ernieinjax
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03 Aug 2016
05:56:37pm
re: RIP Town Cancels !

I hear ya Tom, Looks like hand cancelled first class letters are now mere philatelic contrivances.


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smauggie
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04 Aug 2016
07:53:26am
re: RIP Town Cancels !

Quote:

"I'm not sure how many years ago the USPS pulled cancellation machines out of all of local post offices . . ."



No such thing. I have received machine cancels from Saint Paul and Duluth MN in the past few years. I think some smaller post offices may have given up on maintaining them, but there was never an order made by the USPS to stop using machine cancels.

Quote:

"Looks like hand cancelled first class letters are now mere philatelic contrivances."



I disagree. Every post office has to have a hand-canceller. It's postal law. If you mail an item in a manner in which a hand-cancel would be used, its just regular commercial mail.


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ernieinjax
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04 Aug 2016
08:29:52am
re: RIP Town Cancels !

Antonio, I gotcha. Was just saying that I haven't received one in many years. If you ask for it, yes, they'll do it but that, by definition, makes it contrived. Talking about a letter, not a parcel.

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Bobstamp
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04 Aug 2016
10:39:46am
re: RIP Town Cancels !

The Silver City, New Mexico post office, was just a block from my home through my high school years and first year of university (1957-1962):

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Sometime in the 1970s it moved to a new building, and the old post office building was sold. Today it's a private residence. In the 1980s or early 1990s, mail from Silver City was shipped to Las Cruces, 93 miles (150km) east for processing. Letters from my parents appeared to have originated in Las Cruces, instead of Silver City, the history of which included Billy the Kid's first arrest, raids by the Apache Chief Geronimo, and protection from Apache raids by the famous Buffalo Soldiers.

To me, the loss of town postmarks, not to mention the failure of post offices to cancel stamps at all, or at least in any meaningful way, constitutes a loss of information, of data, of history, of community. But my feelings — our feelings! — are hardly going to change the course of technology, which is certainly the driving force behind modern postal services.

Perhaps the best way to approach the "problem" — I wish it were our worst problem! — is to think of ourselves as collectors of antiques, collecting the best examples of covers and cancellations and rejecting recent examples as pointless postal excrement.

Bob


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