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United States/Covers & Postmarks : SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

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keesindy
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20 Mar 2017
08:48:36pm
The hoard I inherited from Dad in 2000 was mostly common stamps and cut squares from the early 1890s. It consisted of the following (rounded to the nearest hundred).

4,000 Scott 158/184/207
11-12,000 mostly US 311 cut squares
8,500 Scott 219/219D/220x
3,600 Scott 230/231
500 miscellaneous

This was my introduction to fancy cancels and geometric cancels and the meaning of SOTN. Given the amount of time I've invested in these, one would think I collect them. I don't. I'm just fascinated by the fact that someone in Union City, Indiana, (near where I grew up) bothered to collect them, soak all the stamps of their covers, cut the squares and then bundle almost all of them into tightly tied bundles of 100 each. Imagine how much time that must have taken. Far more time than I spent unbundling all of them! One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't take any photos before or during this process! It just didn't occur to me at the time.

In handling these things over the past 17 years, I've come to realize how amazingly creative some of the postmasters/clerks were in creating their hand-carved killers. It's not that I've got any of those masterpieces, but I've seen them in the reference books and in the online presentations. I've also discovered that those killers generally didn't work as well on embossed envelopes as they did on flat stamps. Getting a good killer strike on an embossed indicium was more of a challenge.

I have also realized how difficult it must be to collect cut squares and make them presentable on album pages, even more so if you're collecting used cut squares and have partial or complete CDSs. How do you size them? How many collectors have the skills and tools to do a good job of trimming them? I learned to use the drafting and model building tools in high school. So it would be second nature for me to figure out how to cut neat squares and rectangles around the indicia. It might be a new skill to learn for many potential collectors. It's either a new challenge or an impediment to delving into collecting and displaying these things.

Another regret I have is that I sold a few hundred of the best fancy cancels several years ago without saving the initial scans. I was selling many of them in groups, sometimes fairly large groups, but no longer have decent images of those stamps, only the fairly small images that went to eBay back when I believe there was a cap on image sizes rather than the minimum we deal with today! Hard drive space was more expensive back then, too, and that was an incentive for deleting those large Photoshop files and keeping only the much smaller JPGs.

So much for the history. This first SOTN from the hoard is a companion of the rodent-chewed example I posted in a separate thread a few days ago. I actually have three of these really nice strikes. The clerk applying these killers was consistent! However, all were later trimmed too close to the indicia. If the rodent hadn't further trimmed that other copy, it would have been the best of the three in terms of having sufficient borders.

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This one is a bullseye in two respects. I'll bet the clerk was very proud of his/her accuracy with this strike!

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The origin of this one is unknown, but it's similar to a Sidney, Ohio, killer and Sidney is only 35 miles from Union City and I have a few cut squares with partial Sidney CDSs. This one is not a particularly nice looking killer, but it's pretty good in terms of being SOTN.

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This last one has the brightest purple ink I've seen on a 19th century stamp or cut square. The killer design, purple color and the double-ring CDS suggest it's from the nearby community of Gas City, but none of the other Gas City cancels I've seen are this shade of purple. It's striking!

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smaier
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Sally
20 Mar 2017
09:12:34pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

Have enjoyed following all your postings about your hoard. Thanks for posting this batch - those are some nice cancels!

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keesindy
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21 Mar 2017
06:28:55pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

I'm glad you appreciate these and hope I'm not boring others to death!

Here's a philosophical philatelic question. Is this blue geometric killer (from the hoard) still considered a SOTN specimen when both it and the stamp image are waaaaay off center? Thinking

I'm assuming the answer is yes, but others may quibble.

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I apologize for the size and quality of the image. This was scanned back in the dark ages (March of 2000) when this was the suitable size for selling stamps on eBay.

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keesindy
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21 Mar 2017
07:02:33pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

This grotesque jack-o-lantern/pumpkin/mask type of cancel proved to be the most valuable. Selling them on eBay back in the 2000-2002 period brought as much as $14.50 each. Unfortunately they were very scarce and I never did determine from which post office they originated.

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They weren't all identical. There was variation, but they were similar enough to make me think the same person was responsible for all of them. Plus, the contents of the hoard tended to contain multiple stamps and/or cut squares from the same post offices over and over again due to the regular interactions of the businesses where the items were collected. In some cases, I think the mail from many out of town businesses was arriving on a monthly basis, possibly sending monthly orders for goods or monthly invoices to customers. There were a lot of cut square wrappers, too. So I assume publications of various sorts were arriving at businesses in Union City on a regular basis as well.

Here's another very similar example on a cut square. The two black and white images are comparing the cut square killer with another that may have been the one used on the Scott 231 above.

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smaier
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Sally
22 Mar 2017
09:39:50am
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

I don't know if there is an answer to your philosophical philatelic question. The cancel appears to be pretty close to the center of the actual design even though the design isn't close to being well-centered.

Perhaps it comes down to: is a SOTN required to be in the middle of the stamp, the middle of the design, or just a complete cancel strike on the stamp?

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keesindy
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23 Mar 2017
12:15:41pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

This keystone fancy cancel is one of the mysteries from the hoard. I found 16 copies of it, 14 on Scott 220 and 2 on Scott 219. Interestingly, There were no examples of this cancel on any of the 11-12,000 cut squares. I'm not sure what that says, if anything, about it's origin.

Union City sits on the Indiana/Ohio state line and is pretty much in the center of the area encompassed by the two states. So it seems likely the cancel originated in one of these states. It is distinctive enough that I thought it would be easy to identify the post office of origin.

About 15 years ago, I bought Sol Salkind's book, but it's not in there. I checked with the Indiana Postal History Society members and they didn't recognize the cancel. I checked with the Ohio society and they couldn't identify it. I joined and checked with the US Cancellation Club and still it remained a mystery. Jim Cole couldn't identify it. I sold a few copies on eBay back then, including this pair and a similar pair, and no one contacted me regarding the origin of the cancel.

I've done a little online searching again in recent years, but the origin of this cancel remains a mystery. If anyone here at SoR happens to recognize this one and knows the post office where it originated, please let me know! I remain curious.......

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keesindy
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24 Mar 2017
03:34:20pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

If you stop to think about how many thousands of early 1890s stamps were in the hoard, I think you'll quickly realize that there must have been some 219D stamps. And, if you stop to think about how many fancy and geometric type cancels were being applied at post offices around the country in those years, you'll probably realize there must have been some 219D stamps in the hoard with some interesting cancels.

Here are a few examples. I sold these four groups of 219D stamps on eBay 15-17 years. I got less than a dollar apiece for them in these groups. I probably could have done better selling them separately, but that would have been too time consuming, given how much material I had to deal with back then.

I really wish I had better scans!

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tooler
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24 Mar 2017
06:47:22pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

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This is one of the many I have.

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keesindy
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01 Apr 2017
11:04:28pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

I don't have a separate count of the Scott US 158, 184, 207 and 213 stamps in the hoard. The 158s, 184s and 207s together totaled about 4,000 stamps and the 213s were included along with the 210s, 212s and others in the 500 or so miscellaneous stamps category.

A small percentage of these stamps had some fairly nice fancy cancels. There were quite a few shield cancels, but most were light or incomplete strikes. These examples were all sold 10-15 years ago when I felt overwhelmed by the size of the hoard and was often selling the fancy and geometric cancels in small to medium size groups. Thinning the hoard, so to speak.

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keesindy
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02 Apr 2017
06:18:02pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

A few more Scott US 213 cancels from very recent scans.

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keesindy
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02 Apr 2017
09:43:24pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

I sold the bulk of the roughly 8,500 US Scott 220 stamps many years ago to a fly-specker who had been researching the stamps for several years and continues to do so. I had already sold several of the better 220s with interesting cancels and retained 2-300 more with cancels I thought might be of interest to collectors. The following are some of those copies I sold as groups 15-17 years ago.

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AntoniusRa
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The truth is within and only you can reveal it
03 Apr 2017
11:48:46pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

Keesindy, You have enough of them you might as well collect them, Many of the fancy cork cancels carry a large premium. Also do scarce ink colors, Green and Orange are very scarce and add a lot to earlier items.
Yes, your Violet Bullseye SON cancel is close enough. SON cancels most always seem to carry a premium although pretty low, the closer to perfect the better. Valued on appeal.

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mitch.seymourfamily.com/mward/collection/mapindex.html
keesindy
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04 Apr 2017
01:01:28am
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

Yes, Mitch, I certainly have enough of them and I am intrigued by the cancels and the fact all were probably collected in one small Indiana city in a two- to three-year period. Plus, that city was only about 13 miles from where both Dad and I grew up. Both grandfathers, Mom and three great-grandfathers grew up even closer to that city. I'm kind of attached to this hoard whether I like it or not! Happy

I keep telling myself I have an accumulation rather than a collection. It's mostly in glassines! I no longer have the collecting bug. Instead, I'm spending the bulk of my time digitizing historical info: family genealogy writings and photos to share with family; Indiana history in the form of early 20th century postcards and late 19th/early 20th century advertising to share with the public via Facebook groups and a project I maintain at Flickr; and last but not least, (mostly local) philatelic material that Dad had accumulated. For me, this and the associated research are far more rewarding than collecting.

Plus, this "work" is cheaper than collecting. Most of the materials I'm digitizing were either inherited from Dad (basically the hoard and some local history items) or loaned to me by collectors (e.g., several thousand early Indiana postcards).

Besides, barring some unforeseen calamity, I'll always have the "digital collections" that I'm creating and sharing. Hopefully, the material will be available online long after I'm gone!

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keesindy
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05 Apr 2017
11:34:50am
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

Here are a few more examples of the fancy and geometric killers from the Union City, Indiana, hoard. All of these were sold several years ago. Of course, some of the killers were manufactured and purchased by the post offices. However, postmasters at many post offices, especially the smaller ones, were more inclined to create their own. Some of these local creations by postmasters and/or clerks were works of art. Some were simpler carvings, such as a single letter or a simple geometric design. I don't know how long it would have taken to cut/carve the various designs, but it seemed to have been a passion at some of the post offices where numerous different designs were created. In some cases, there clearly was an attempt to create an identity for the post office or postmaster. In other cases, the work was probably simply a method of artistic or creative expression. The quality of the work varied and some killers clearly required more time and skill than others. I've never researched this and wonder exactly how and when the postmasters at the smaller post offices found time to create these killers.

Some of the problems with these killers included the wear and tear, the quality of the inks and ink pads, the uneven inking, and sometimes hurried application of the killer to the stamps. There were many obstacles to getting a nice clean (and collectible) strike on the stamps! These problems are apparent in several of these examples. Sometimes it is difficult to decipher the postmasters'/clerks' work. Some of the manufactured killers appear to have been modified at some post offices. Sometimes objects that aren't clearly recognizable today were used.

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keesindy
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05 Apr 2017
08:51:20pm
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

Here is a group of Scott US 210 stamps and a couple of singles I sold several years ago. There are a few SOTN cancels, including the two Maltese crosses. The large black letter sold on eBay for $3.50 and the single Maltese cross sold for $6.50 in 2005. The group of ten sold for $8.00 in 2000. The other copies in the hoard of this Maltese cross design were generally not as clear and less well centered.

I still have another copy (see below) of the grid (or waffle) killer pictured in the upper left-hand corner of the group. Sometimes inking problems or worn killer devices make it difficult to match copies of the same killer design, but several characteristics of this pair match very well. There are other variations of the round 4 x 4 segment grid killers, but these are the only two copies of this particular design I have found. I don't ever expect to learn what post office it came from.

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keesindy
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06 Apr 2017
12:02:12am
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

Speaking of grids, here is a group of Scott US 294 cut squares with a variety of designs. Notice that three, and possibly five, of the eight were all addressed to the same business or individual. These all came from the Union City, Indiana hoard. The grids consisting of squares or rectangles are sometimes referred to as "waffles." I don't know if the grids with diamond shapes can also be referred to as "waffles" or not. This group sold on eBay for $4.50 in 2002.

I still have the single Scott US U115 cut square with a round grid of diamond shapes for a killer. It also came from that hoard.

Unfortunately, I don't know the post offices where any of these originated.


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keesindy
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08 Apr 2017
07:33:18am
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

One of the most common types of killers was the concentric circles. The Cole book doesn’t bother including examples of these at all; the Salkind book displays a few and notes that many other varieties exist. All of the examples below must have been manufactured devices.

I had been using the terms “bullseye” and “target” interchangeably. However, I recently learned a bullseye cancel has an open center while a target cancel has a dot in the center.

I haven’t found a huge variety of these cancels, but here are a few examples. This group of six stamps was sold several years ago. It includes three different target cancels, one of which is actually the center portion of an ellipse killer. The three bullseye cancels at the right don’t seem to be identical.

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TARGETS


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BULLSEYES

I wouldn't be surprised to find that the killers on the three stamps in the following group were locally modified. The first two could have been either targets or bullseyes with the center ring or dot removed. The third may have been modified by removing the second ring from the center.

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keesindy
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11 Mar 2019
12:45:52am
re: SOTN and other cancels from the Union City, Indiana, hoard

It has been a while since I added a SOTN example to this message thread! Here is another Scott U311 from the 11-12,000 Union City, Indiana, cut squares that I scanned a few days ago. Enjoy!

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