Month: July 2018

Philatelic $5 Cover

I’ve maintained a census of the 2nd Bureau $2 and $5 stamps for several years now.  As far as I know, there are only 13 pieces or covers with the five dollar Marshall stamp (Scott 313), and many of the items were created by contemporary philatelists.  Shown below is the only solo franked $5 cover in the census, item 313-12.

Five dollar Marshall stamp on cover.

Sent from Klotzville, Lousiana on the 17th of January, 1909 to a P.O. box in New Orleans.  The $5 franking hugely overpaid the 2-cent first-class domestic letter rate to a man named N. W. Taussig.  Mr. Noah William Taussig and his brother, Issac, were prominent businessmen in New York and New Orleans sugar industries where Noah was the board chairmen of the American Molasses Company.  Noah most likely created and sent this cover from a sugar factory in Klotzville to himself.  The handwriting on the cover matches his 1922 passport application (available on ancestry.com).

Constance and Noah Taussig’s passport photo (circa 1922).

Mr. Taussig’s name may be familiar to airmail collectors as the creator of the “Taussig” first flight cover that is on display at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.  Taussig created the cover that bears President Woodrow Wilson’s autograph and was carried on the historic May 18, 1918, flight from Washington, D.C. to New York City.  The prized cover was sold to Mr. Taussig for $1000 at auction to benefit the American Red Cross.

Inaugural airmail flight envelope created and later purchased by N. Taussig.

June 14, 1918, newspaper clipping of autographed cover purchase.

These are the only two philatelic “Taussig” covers known to me.  Know of any others?

Posted by Geoff in Covers, 0 comments

Penny Postcard Between US Possessions

The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, Phillippines, and Cuba from Spain on April 11, 1899, pursuant the victory in the Spanish American War. Subsequently, these territories along with Canal Zone and American Samoa became the U.S. Possessions. Though scattered around the world, the Possessions benefited from the same domestic mail rates as the mainland United States, namely 1¢ postcard and 2¢ letter rates.

Displayed below is a picture postcard sent from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Manilla, Phillippines on April 11, 1905, six years to the day after the U.S. obtained these islands. The card was received in Manilla on June 2nd, 1905, and forwarded to San Francisco, California the following day. Finally received on July 11, 1905. The 1¢ franking paid the domestic postcard rate between the Possessions as well as providing free forwarding service.

1905 postcard from Puerto Rico to the Philippines. Magenta receiving mark used by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.

The Possession to Possession connection is neat, but what sets this postcard above the rest is the communication between two US Coast assistant surgeons and the magenta receiving mark.  The card was sent from the assistant surgeon, J.A. Hurley, of the USS Explore which was built in 1904 for the US Coast & Geodetic Survey (USCGS)[1].

“Dear Force, here is where we are now. Pretty, but hot as blazes. Why don’t you write, Hurley”

Message from assistant surgeon J.A. Hurley on a picture postcard from Puerto Rico.

The brief message and plea for correspondence were addressed to J. Neirson Force who was also an assistant surgeon on the USCGS “Fathomer.” [2].  By the time the postcard made it to the Philippines, Dr. Force was reassigned to an office in San Francisco (I believe the notation on the card is C. of Survey, for Care of Survey?). The large circular United States, Sub-Office, San Francisco, Coast and Geodetic Survey receiving strike is not an official USPO postmark instead it is similar to marks hotels and corporations would apply as a service to indicate the mail was received.  Any info or pictures of similar marks would be appreciated.

[1] USC&GS Explorer (1904)

[2] USC&GS Fathomer (1904)

Posted by Geoff in Postcards, U.S. Possessions, 0 comments

Postcard to Jaluit, Marshall Islands

What a destination!  A postcard sent from Pago Pago, American Samoa, a United States Possession, to the small Marshall Islands atoll named Jaluit.  Posted December 1906, the card was quickly carried to Apia, Western Samoa where it probably sat waiting for a vessel bound for the Marshall Islands.  It was not delivered to Jaluit until 20 March 1907.

The German Empire purchased the Marshall Islands from Spain in 1885 and established a trading outpost on Jaluit Atoll.  This card is franked with a pair of 1¢ definitive Franklin stamps (Scott #300) to pay the UPU postcard rate of 2¢.

1907 UPU rate postcard from American Samoa to Jaluit, Marshall Island, Southseas.

 

The postcard was sent to Carl Teschke, Captain of the SS Triton.  However, I have not been able to find further information on either the captain or the vessel.  Most likely one of the numerous small trade ships sailing the Pacific.

Inner Harbour, Pago Pago (face of the card)

Posted by Geoff in Destinations, Postcards, U.S. Possessions, 0 comments

The Five Cent Imperforate Stamp and Digital Forgery

Lincoln Imperf with large right margin.

I am frequently amazed at the prices realized for small margined 5-cent Lincoln imperforate stamps on eBay (and probably stamp bourses and other auction venues). The stamp known by its Scott Catalog number 315 is frequently traded on eBay at what appears to be bargain prices (click here for current eBay auctions of 315). The 2011 Scott price for an unused example (in very fine condition) is $210, and a used version is much more uncommon, commanding a price tag of $1250.

Legitimate certified copies of the used stamp are quite scarce, the price in the Scott catalog reflects this by italicizing the price for the used stamp. Comparing the imperf to its perforated counterpart (Scott 304), an unused previously hinged stamp, lists at $60 and used, a mere $2.25. Philatelists collect the imperforated stamp either as an imperforate pair or a single side/corner margined copy; thus ensuring authenticity. The perforated version does not exist in either of these states.


Unfortunately, over the past century forged copies of the imperforate stamp are plenty. Some created to deceive the collector others contrived to fill the void in a stamp album (and not intended for resale). Either way, the fakes come to market.

I decided to dig through my stamps and covers to find a sizeable margined copy of the perforated 5¢ stamp ready to digitally fake. The digital forgery could then be used to compare with other stamps encountered for sale online. If the margins of the stamp in question are smaller than my example, it may have been forged. Ultimately I spotted a beauty in my collection, a huge margined stamp on cover to Warsaw, Poland. The stamp is an upper right corner margin copy with rather large margins around the perforated sides.

Zoom view of the stamp from Poland cover.

Scanning, digitally cropping the perforations, and adding a black background, I now have a superb (in my opinion) digital Scott 315. Is this stamp worth 475 bucks? Or even eBay rates of ten to twenty times a used perforated variety? I don’t think so. It ultimately depends on what you are looking for a genuine stamp or space filler.

Cropped and black background added.

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments