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United States/Covers & Postmarks : Info on US "football" style postmark

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Bob Palileo
12 Jan 2005
03:35:21am
I noticed that some US stamps from the 1950s have this football-shaped postmark, apart from the usual one with the date and place of posting. May I know its significance? Thanks for the info.

Bob

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Jan-Simon
12 Jan 2005
04:17:06am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

I think it is a cork killer cancel. (in any case they were made out of cork initially in the 19th century) Not that uncommon as far as I know. But i leave it to the experts to give more details.

Jan-Simon

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David Teisler (Teisler)
12 Jan 2005
08:51:52am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Jan-Simon is partially correct. Cork cancels were common in the 19th century in the US; by the early 20th century they had been replaced in all but the smallest POs by metal or rubber cancelling devices; and in the bigger cities by machine cancels.

this stamp is from the early 1960s, long after cork cancels had gone the way of the Pony Express (which, incidentally, despite its famed existence, was short-lived and deemed a failure).


What you see here is part of what's called a duplex cancel; this part is the station's cancel; the other part was a circular date stamp giving time, date, and location. they were metal, and hand-stamped.

The closest thing to them today are the machine cancels of a few towns in Florida (West Palm Beach comes to mind, and there may be more towns in other states) that have the station number in the wavy line part of the cancel

Hope this helps

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stamperdad
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12 Jan 2005
08:59:55am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

These cancels were widely used and are very popular with collectors.

Most usage was early to mid 20th century. Machine cancels have taken over most of items cancelled now - pity. These are one of the reasons I love postal history. Not only do you get the stamp but the postal markings when you collect covers.

Steve

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Bob Ingraham (Bobstamp)
12 Jan 2005
10:42:00am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

I understand that the the duplex canceller was as a labor-saving device. Before its invention, a postal clerk would have to bash a letter twice, once with the CDS hammer (the information it contained was required for record keeping for the bean counters), and once with the obliterator to make it impossible to re-use the stamp. Here are some samples of cork obliterators.

US corks

Eire cover

For more information about the cover, see An Irish schoolboy writes home to his father.

Bob

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stamperdad
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12 Jan 2005
11:00:12am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Bob:

You are correct. It did accomplish two tasks at one time with one marking. Probably a great technological leap forward at the time. LOL

The cork markings you illustrate are known by US collectors as "fancy cancels" and again are extremely popular with collectors. Some of these are extremely rare and quite valuable especially on cover. I know of a couple of collectors that only collect one issue but all the different fancy cancels they can find. It makes for quite an interesting and striking display when they are all assembled.

Steve

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David Teisler (Teisler)
12 Jan 2005
01:33:00pm
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

to add further to this wonderful discussion (see how the simplest of questions leads to an outpouring of information), postal regulations in the US require that the stamp be obliterated by something other than the CDS, essentially requiring any cancelling device to have two parts (exclude registry from this discussion; but true for all other services within first class, but NOT for second or third, but for some fourth [I'm using old terminology, not current first, periodical rate, standard A, and standard B which correspond to 1, 2, 3, and 4th class]). The football part cancelling the pony express stamp is referred to as the killer (this is what the cork cancels did); the other part is the date stamp (usually a CDS, but not necessarily, and they come in a multitude of varieties; usually, a mechanical device was used here, much like what we still use today, just not automated).

David

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Bob Palileo
12 Jan 2005
04:21:21pm
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Thanks for the comments, guys, but what does the "1" in the middle of the mark stand for?

Bob

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stamperdad
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12 Jan 2005
04:34:38pm
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Usually the sub-station or sometimes in larger post offices, the clerk. That is my understanding anyway. Perhaps David can shed more light on that.

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David Teisler (Teisler)
13 Jan 2005
09:36:18am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Steve's right in both cases.

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stamperdad
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13 Jan 2005
10:05:16pm
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Here is one of these on cover so that you can see what the cancel looks like in its entirety. This one is from NYC and as you can see instead of a number it has GPO which stands for General Post Office.

SkymasterSweden.jpg

Anyway thought you might like to see one complete.

Steve

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Bob Palileo
13 Jan 2005
11:30:21pm
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Do I take it then that these cork cancels are the predecessors of the wavy ones we see nowadays? Or those of the "greetings from far, far away" variety?

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stamperdad
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14 Jan 2005
08:42:55am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Not quite sure what your meaning is. The "Fancy Cancels" are the cork ones. The football shaped or "duplex cancels" were made of metal. They were both "hand cancellations". The wavy ones and slogan cancels are "machine cancels".

For me I much prefer the hand cancels. It seems in most cases, at least in those days, clerks took care when applying the hand cancels to get a good readable strike. Machine cancels because the material is run through a machine - tend to not have as clear of a strike, especially the more modern ones. That is the reason I myself love these older covers is the nice postal markings.

Steve

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Roy Lingen [Stamporama Webmaster] (Roy)
14 Jan 2005
09:13:11am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Here is a nice example of an early US duplex cancel (steel hammer):

duplex

It is currently on BuckaCover.com. Browsing the US miscellaneous category on BuckaCover.com will reward with many examples of US cancellations -- duplexes, flags, early machine cancels etc. etc.

Roy

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David Teisler (Teisler)
14 Jan 2005
09:19:27am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Bob,

Just to add to Steve's reply, which is absolutely correct.

the cancel you used is not a cork cancel and not considered a fancel cancel by any stretch of any definition. It is a hand cancel, made with a metal device. It is called a duplex cancel because 2 different parts (date and killer) are part of the same device.

Cork cancels, some of which qualify as fancy cancels, but many of which are fairly ordinary (not necessarily unworthy of one's interest, though) are only half of the cancel that should be put on any US cover, the other half being the date stamp. The date was usually supplied by a metal, or occasionally metal and rubber, device. the cork killer and metal date required two separate strikes by the postal clerk.

In discussing this so far, I've referred only to hand cancels.

I think that all flag cancels are machine cancels, meaning that no human actually struck the envelope. Earlier machine cancels were fed through a canceling device and struck as they passed through. today's cancels are applied by a machine triggered by the taggant in the stamp and sped along to a sorting device. those covers franked with untagged stamps (pre-1980 generally, or contemporary stamps below, say, 20c [I'm not sure at all about the values]) will be taken out of this automated stream (because they did not trigger the machine canceller) and hand-cancelled.

please note that these terms are all general; there are more specific types of cancels, etc. and, yes, they are all related

hope this helps

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stamperdad
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14 Jan 2005
09:28:21am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Roy:

Nice cover. These are highly collectable and from this scan you can see why. It is not an area that I myself collect but for those who are looking for an interesting area of US philately to get into for minimal cost try these. Just goes to show you that it doesn't have to be expensive to be interesting.

Steve

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Bob Ingraham (Bobstamp)
14 Jan 2005
10:45:22am
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Ounce for ounce, if you consider the miniscule amount of ink used in creating them, cancels are far more expensive than stamps! What person in their right mind would spend $1.50 or more for a little circle containing a few letters and words, or other assorted smudges of black ink? OK, don't answer that!

Cancels can be a lot more expensive than $1.50, of course. I have a friend who recently spent CDN $900 for a cover just because of its Railway Post Office CDS strike, which was missing from his specialized collection. I've never spent that much, at least on one item, but the deeper I get into this hobby, I can see it happening, just as I can see my wife rolling her eyes heavenward when I ask about getting a second mortgage on our condo! One can be a bit obsessive, and sometimes I think I am. But not Howard Hughes obsessive, at least not yet....

Anyway, here's a Canadian example of one of the inexpensive covers of the type that Steve and Roy have mentioned:

sask cover

It shows a late use of a fancy cancel, to cancel the stamp, and a "split ring" CDS cancel. I've done a bit of research on Coleville. It's a farming community in Saskatchewan, wikth a population of about 350 km west northwest of Regina. John E. Brent was the Colevile postmaster when the cover was cancelled, and had been for a long time: he served as postmaster for more than 32 years, from Auig. 1, 1917 until August 28, 1950. It is not difficult to see him taking pleasure in continuing to use a cancellation device that had been a part of his life for so many years.

The cover has a "problem" in that the fancy cancel strike is not "tied" to the cover. If this were an expensive cover, the fact that the stamp isn't tied could be a warning that it had been faked. However, I think that John Brent was only concerned about cancelling the stamp, not about the researches of future postal historians.

Bob

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stamperdad
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14 Jan 2005
03:58:48pm
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

Here is another nice one that I recently acquired for my Transport Airmail collection via eBay. It has an exceptional cancellation on it. Really shows all the transit info and plus it was a wartime cover and has been censored.

TransportHotelEng.jpg

It was mailed on stationary from the Hotel Wellington in NYC to Southampton, England on January 8, 1943 at the height of WWII. Europe was still largely Nazi controlled as the D-Day invasion would not take place until June 1944.

The football shaped side has a '6' in it which if you look at the date cancel on the left obviously stands for "STA. 6"

For me this is just so interesting.
Steve

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Roy Lingen [Stamporama Webmaster] (Roy)
15 Jan 2005
11:37:13pm
re: Info on US "football" style postmark

I was sorting some US covers for my BuckaCover.com site ( http://www.buckacover.com ) tonight and came across this one that I thought I would share:

cuba-ny

A lovely strike! And it also shows another collecting theme that many collectors enjoy -- the collecting of cancels with "shared" place names, in this case Cuba, New York. Other examples might be Moscow Idaho, Vienna Virginia, Berlin Ontario (prior to WWI) and many many more.

However you do it, enjoy your collecting!

Roy

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