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United States/Covers & Postmarks : Letters in machine cancellations

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Rhinelander
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Support the Hobby -- Join the American Philatelic Society
22 Dec 2008
09:55:03am
Hello all. I still need to take care of some unfinished business relating to our earlier discussion of the Leavitt machine postmarks. There was some question as to the relevance of the letter shown in the cancel. I then broadened the discussion by showing an example of a machine cancel from a much later period:

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This cancel from Worcester, Mass., has a letter 'T.' I proposed that cancels of this design are very common for the period from approx. 1905 to 1930. The design has circular postmarking dial with the year-date curved at the bottom and a killer with seven wavy lines containing a machine number and -- a letter.

I do have a few more examples to show and also can tell the story that goes with those letters. To keep this thread interactive, however, I'd appreciate some help. So if you have specimens of other machine cancels in this particular style (or to make it easier any other style up to around 1930) containing letters, I'd appreciate if you could show them here to enrich the discussion.

Arno
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Doe
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22 Dec 2008
12:35:18pm
re: Letters in machine cancellations

Hi Arno,

I looked through my SN300 on postcards, and of those with that type of cancel, I saw mostly Cs. There are some Ds and Ts too.

Peace,
Doe

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Rhinelander
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22 Dec 2008
06:23:02pm
re: Letters in machine cancellations

Doe got us the letters C and D. Here is one example of a 'C' from Buffalo, NY:

my picture

And a letter 'D' from Franklin, N.H.:

my picture

'T' we already have. Well, there exists only one more letter . . .

Doe: What is a SN300?

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Doe
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22 Dec 2008
09:01:26pm
re: Letters in machine cancellations

Hi Arno,

Scott's US #300

:-) ,
Doe

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Valarie
22 Dec 2008
10:18:17pm
re: Letters in machine cancellations

I have an R from 1905 Atlanta GA.
Valarie

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Rhinelander
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23 Dec 2008
04:48:53am
re: Letters in machine cancellations

@ Doe
Duh. So fixated on postmarks that my philatelic brain shut down otherwise.

@ Valarie

Bravo. That is the last missing letter. Can you show the cancel? I do not have a good example at hand. We are visiting family in Florida right now, so I am away from my collection. I did bring a large box of random covers with me, though. I hope to be able to look it over, decide what to keep, and put the remainder up on our auction over the holidays. This is were I got the C and D examples.

In any event, C, D, T, and R. That's it. I hope someone can post an image of the missing cancel. In the mean time, I will have to scan a few other items and then I will bring this to a conclusion.

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Teisler
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
23 Dec 2008
07:47:04am
re: Letters in machine cancellations

what a fabulous discussion; and I love how we all contributed to it. Great way to organize it, Arno, and thanks to all who participated. Plus, I love that Arno brings a bag of covers with him whereever he travels.

David

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"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

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Rhinelander
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23 Dec 2008
08:54:05pm
re: Letters in machine cancellations

Alright. I do not want to turn this into another cliff hanger. I actually did find an "R" specimen after all. It is not American, though, but Canadian:

my picture

All cancellations shown in this thread are form machines made by the International Postal Supply Co. of New York. They were the manufacturers of the legendary (?) International "Flier" the most widely used electric high speed cancellation machine for decades. I, thus, chose these cancellations as an example, because I assumed that you would be able to find plentiful specimens of these postmarks.

The letters, however, are not a trademark of this manufacturer. Remember that we got started on the subject by a 1887 Leavitt cancellation with the letter 'C.' Here is a flag cancellation -- these cancels are the trademark of the American Postal Machines Co. of Boston -- with another one of these letters:

my picture

I will be showing another example from another manufacturer in a new thread later. This is to say, regardless of the manufacturer of the machine, you can find the letters C, D, T, and R in some of the postmarks. And if American-made machines have been sold abroad, e.g., in the case of the "Flier" to Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, France etc., you will even find those letters in the foreign cancels.

These letters are called "service letters."
D is for "drop" and was intended for mail posted at the post office.
C is for "collect" and was for mail collected from mail boxes.
T is for "transit" and was meant to be used for backstamping mail when routed to its final destination.
R is for "received" and was meant to be used for backstamping mail for that purpose.

In reality, use of the service letters was random. I hope this is illustrated by the examples shown in this tread. T's and R's should not appear as origin cancels, but do so very frequently. Postal clerks ignored these letters entirely and did not go through the hassle of changing them when cancelling incoming mail (R) or outgoing mail posted at the office (D) or collected from mail boxes (C) etc. I am not aware that postal regulations even required distinguishing between 'C' and 'D' mail.

So, the original question was whether the letter 'C' in the Leavitt cancel had any significance and the answer is Yes and No. Actually the Newark, NJ, Leavitt machine was in use for eleven years and no other letter but C is known. Some cancels however are known with different service letters and specialists can add layers of complexity to their collection by incorporating such differences.

Finally, here is another machine cancel with a letter: an early APMC flag cancel from Chicago, Ill., with letter 'G'.

my picture

Here, the letter indicates the machine. It is not a service letter.

(Message edited by rhinelander on December 23, 2008)

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Boston_bob
25 Dec 2008
08:06:02pm
re: Letters in machine cancellations

Arno: Bravo, Bravo, Bravissimo!

Regards(and thanks for the fun),

Bob

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Teisler
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
26 Dec 2008
07:42:55am
re: Letters in machine cancellations

i am developing an incredible reference library of cancelling devices, courtesy of you, Arno. What's more, because I'm engaged in the effort, failing though i often do, I also own the results. Pedogagically, it's an incredible approach; philatellically, it's a G M (letters stand for Gold Mine). What's more, each incorrect effort leads to more information, which helps to build the knowlege and, even better, the context. I'm with Boston Bob, köszönöm!, but using the language of my ancestors.

David

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"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

juicyheads.com/link.php?PLJZJP
Dani20
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09 Mar 2010
08:24:58pm
re: Letters in machine cancellations

Dear All,
This was great! I missed it completely being out of town and didn't catch it when I got back in.
Beautifully done one and all.
Dan

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Rhinelander
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Support the Hobby -- Join the American Philatelic Society
30 Apr 2013
12:02:09am
re: Letters in machine cancellations

I am slowly back filling some images in older threads that were lost due to broken links to outside picture hosting services. Discussions that were imported from the old discussion board cannot be edited, therefore I cannot do better than adding the missing images at the bottom. Hope it makes this old discussion useful again.

In order of appearance ...

Worcester, Mass., with letter 'T:'

Image Not Found

Buffalo, NY, with letter 'C:'

Image Not Found


Franklin, N.H., with letter 'D:'

Image Not Found

Montreal, Canada, with letter 'R:'

Image Not Found

Flag cancel, New York, NY, Tremont Station, with letter 'C:'

Image Not Found

Flag Cancel, Chicago, Illinois, main post office, machine lettered 'G:'

Image Not Found


Actually, I am not sure if these were the original pictures, but they are certainly similar to the original set.

Arno

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