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United States/Covers & Postmarks : Another challenge . . .

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Rhinelander
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23 Dec 2008
09:08:53pm
Ok. Here we go again: This postcard is in really bad shape. Anyway, is there anything remarkeable about it?

my picture

Is this too easy? Maybe not. I don't know.
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Teisler
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
24 Dec 2008
11:01:48am
re: Another challenge . . .

we have a date, but no month. The year is in the killer, not the CDS. I'll start with that and see where we go

David

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Rhinelander
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24 Dec 2008
11:22:45am
re: Another challenge . . .

Hi David, Good start. Year in the killer is certainly unusual. However, no month? -- wrong. ;)

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Valarie
24 Dec 2008
01:47:17pm
re: Another challenge . . .

The month is to the left of the circular cancel.

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Rhinelander
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24 Dec 2008
02:06:31pm
re: Another challenge . . .

Yes. Here, we have the month to left of the circular cancel, then we have day and time inside the circle, and the year integrated in the killer so the entire date information is in one line. It is a most unusal arrangement and the style of postmark is not very common. These cancellations were primarily used in Chicago and a few other mostly Midwestern cities from about 1909(?) to 1913.

However, believe it or not, this is not what I find to be most remarkeable about this type of cancellation. So, we are not done yet . . .

(Message edited by rhinelander on December 24, 2008)

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Rhinelander
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24 Dec 2008
05:40:59pm
re: Another challenge . . .

Ok. Looks like we are stuck again. Here are two more of these postmarks. I hope that gets you on the right track:

my picture

my picture1

(Message edited by rhinelander on December 24, 2008)

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Teisler
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
24 Dec 2008
06:29:26pm
re: Another challenge . . .

generally i see time in half-hour increments; this is in minutes, although it's less obviouse, or was less obvious, to me, in the first. Of course, I missed the whole month, so what's 10 minutes among friends

David, hoping we're getting close

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Boston_bob
24 Dec 2008
07:24:53pm
re: Another challenge . . .

Wait a minute...this isn't "The Revenge of the Killer C's" again, is it?

Bob

(and on Christmas Eve no less)

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Saleem
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25 Dec 2008
04:39:59am
re: Another challenge . . .

Here is what seem odd to me in the first Post Card - printed in Germany and worded in English instead of German.

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Rhinelander
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25 Dec 2008
10:47:25am
re: Another challenge . . .

Good Morning and Merry Christmas, Stamporama.

David is getting close. The exact minutes in the cancellation is really an extraordinary feature. Of course, for the first example I picked "9:20am" where this is not quite as obvious as in the later "4:56pm" and "3:08pm" examples. To get a true appreciation one has to consider how the information in the cancellations usually is changed -- manually.

Day, month, time, pm/am were all engraved on slugs which had to be removed/exchanged/inserted in the postmark. So, given this hassle, do you think a postal clerk would change the time every minute when running mail through the machine? In fact it probably takes more than a minute to remove, change, and reassemble the cancelling unit of the machine.

The early machines made by the Time Marking Machine Company of Chicago, however, were able to impress the exact time by the minute. The time wheel changed automatically driven by an electro-mechanical pulsing device. The early experimental types of these cancels were tested in 1905 and the device must be considered an amazing engineering feat.

Unfortunately, the mechanism never really worked well and also was not considered important by the postal department. You will therefore frequently find Time Marking Machine cancels where the mechanism is disabled and the time is simply set by the hour. These cancels are not exactly rare, but also not common. The majority of Time Marking cancels date from 1909 to 1913. There are a few earlier ones, but no later ones, because the company lost its contract to supply machines to the postal department in mid-1913.

The top example from Terre Haute, Ind., is a more commonly found type. It is also an unusal design with the month in the top portion of the cancel and the year at the bottom. Of course, it is not as unusal as the second design with the month outside the postmark and the year in the killer. There are also other designs, including the most common one with a considerably smaller postmarking dial. So, given the variety of styles of these postmarks, here is how to tell a Time Marking cancel. It is easy: the day-date and the time are on the same line (check above cancels). Regardless of the particular style, day-date and time are always on the same line in a Time Marking postmark. No other machine used in the US had a design were day-date and time are on the same line. So if you find a cancel, with day-date and time on one line, and it is from 1913 or earlier, it is a Time Marking Machine Co. cancel. If it is post-1913, to be complete, it is from the related B.F. Cummins Co.

Finally, Bob noticed that we again have service letters in these postmarks. Salem, finally, pointed to the "Made in Germany" notice on one of the postcards. Prior to WWI, Germany was the world's leading manufacturer of high quality postcards due to its leading chemical and printing industry. I do not pay much attention to the fronts of postcards, but if you go through a box of old postcards you may be surprised to see how many are actually printed in Germany. It, thus, may not be surprising that postcards manufactured for export have the "Made in Germany" designation printed in English rather than the native German.

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Bobstamp
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25 Dec 2008
11:03:11am
re: Another challenge . . .

Germany is the birthplace of printing in the West. The printing press, moveable type, oil-based ink, and color printing are all German inventions. In terms of quality, you'll not find many stamps of quality equal to those of the Third Reich. I have a series of German picture postcards from the First World War, depicting maudlin scenes in color of soldiers taking leave of their sweethearts to go off to war. British and American postcards of the same genre are of shoddy quality by comparison. I think that it's safe to say that Germany in the early 1900s was "Printer to the World". There's an interesting Wikipedia article about printing at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_printing.

So, the fact that the first postcard in this discussion was printed in Germany would not seem to be remarkable.

Bob

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Rhinelander
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26 Dec 2008
11:03:33am
re: Another challenge . . .

Just to round this out, a few more Time Marking Machine Co. cancellations. In all of these examples the minute-dial is disabled. Note that day and time are on the same line. An unmistakeable charactistics of postmarks from this manufacturer. As you can tell, I like these cancels a lot.

my picture1
my picture2
my picture3

Here a B.F. Cummins Co. postmark:

my picture4

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Boston_bob
26 Dec 2008
08:33:56pm
re: Another challenge . . .

Ok, ok, this has been a lot of fun and very educational, but I have some general questions about this aspect of stamp collecting, and I guess this is directed to the impresario Arno.

First, because I neither collect covers, nor postmarks, I was wondering how you maintain your collection. Do you save the interesting postmarks in the pocket type sheets used by the FDC people? Isn't this type of collecting rather space consuming?

Second, Is there a way of valuing these individual and obviously philatelically significant postmarked envelopes and cards? Are there ways to distinguish or identify each one, similar to a Scott numbering system?

Third, and here goes the killer, can the collecting of postmarks actually be called philately? Yes I know I'm going to get a lot of hate mail for this one, but to me it seems more adjunctive than core.

Your wise thoughts will be (as always) appreciated.

Bob

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Rhinelander
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26 Dec 2008
10:09:17pm
re: Another challenge . . .

Hi Bob,

These are excellent questions. I could not be more pleased to respond. First, there is no hobby where there is more personal autonomy than in philately (stamp collecting). So I like to start off with a link to the essay of Ayn Rand which most beautifully expresses what it is about stamp collecting that we all enjoy:

http://www.ingraham.ca/bob/Ayn_Rand_quote.pdf

Bob (I.) will be pleaed to see that I dug it out again.

Having referred to higher authority, I would probably agree with you that the collection of postmarks is probably not "philately" proper.

The FIP treats the collection and study of postmarks, for which the term marcophily gained some support, as a branch of postal history. Here is a link to the most recent FIP regulations covering postal history exhibits:

http://www.f-i-p.ch/regulation/pdf/Srev_PostalHistory.pdf

It is probably interesting to post a link to the new FIP regulations here, because of the most recent creation (as per January 1, 2009) of a new exhibtion class "social philately," which brings about a further expansion of the meaning of philately. This is actually a most interesting development and would make for a great discussion topic in its own right.

Anyway. I collect stamps and maintain several traditional country collections. However, I also collect certain types of cancellations. Machine cancellations impressed by machines made by the Time Marking Machine Co. and B. F. Cummins Co. are but one of these. For the time being, my postmark collections are housed primarily in -- cigar boxes. I put all postcards and covers in protective plastic sleeves, which I buy in bulk at a couple of pennies a piece. I intent to mount at least some of my postmark collections on pages as soon as a reasonable degree of completeness is achieved, which may be in twenty years or so.

Most postmarks can be collected very much like stamps. For most states lists of existing (and once existing) post offices are available. Moreover, for many types of cancels, specialized literature exists that lists all known towns that used cancels of a specific style. Valuation, however, is usually difficult because the collectors' market for postmarks is not as developed as for stamps. As an example of a postmark list you may want to check this website for information on "Doane" cancels:

http://www.doanecancel.com/doane.html

Doane cancels are a realtively well developed area of postmark collecting. I do not collect these. However, you can see that assembling a collection of such cancels from your home state is very much like collecting stamps -- you have a list to go by. Except that you will not find many dealers who have an inventory of these postmarks. Collecting postmarks is a lot of fun, but can be really challenging. If you want to collect some postmarks -- and I always like collections that cost almost nothing -- I recommend the modern ink-jet cancels. I have a feel that these are going to be the next hot area. There is really no point in clipping out another "forever stamp", so you might as well preserve the whole cover. Pay particular attention to short lived slogan cancellations, and try to find postmarks from as many different mail processing centers as you can, and -- if you want to specialize -- you even got your machine numbers there ("2 T" or "7 L" etc.). A shoebox is going to house a couple of hundred of those easy. Well, you raised the point of postmarks being a space consuming collecting interest. I agree (kind of) but you try to fill a shoebox of different ink-jets first. It is really not that easy.

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Teisler
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
27 Dec 2008
11:39:49am
re: Another challenge . . .

Bob,

I see some eBay offerings that specify the machine type, especially Doanes. I also note that there are some collectors who are trying to track back on the relatively modern ink jets (nee circa 1989 in a few experminatal locales if memory serves). I have saved all the slogan inkjets i've received over the years, although, as of yet, I have no idea what I will do with them. As Arno notes, the ink jets are a constantly evolving process, whose very purpose has changed.

I also think that all apsects of stamp production and mail delivery are legitemate areas for study. Note that Scott distinguishes between mint and used stamps, but used prices are only for those with contemporary usage, so understanding what a contemporary postmark might look like may help to determine its legitemate usage.

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