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 & Geodetic Survey (USCGS) 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 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

2-cents Washington Shield Stamp (Scott #319)

The Bureau of Printing and Engraving reacted quickly to the public’s dislike of the original 2¢ stamp and produced a new 2¢ Washington stamp. The stronger more bold design replaced the ornate flag background with a shield and strengthened Washington’s portrait. The replacement stamp was placed into circulation in November 1903, ten months after the first 2nd Bureau Washington debacle. Like its predecessor, the Washington shield was cut into booklet panes, saw further use in the production of imperforate, and later private vending coil stamps.

Varieties (Scott catalog number):

Common Uses:

Solo Uses:

gabon cover

Star-in-diamond machine cancel

  • 1st class letter (< 1 ounce)
  • 2nd class (< 8 oz newspaper or magazine)
  • 3rd class (< 4 oz printed matter )
  • 4th class (< 2 oz samples or merchandise)

Favorite Covers:

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments

5-dollars Marshall Stamp (Scott #313)

Common to large denominations, the 5$ Marshall stamp found use on parcels. Uses on cover are difficult to find and solo uses do not exist. This stamp was issued on June 5, 1903.

Varieties (Scott catalog number):

Typical Uses:

  • Registered mail
  • Parcels
  • Heavy international letters

Philatelic use

Other Info:

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments

2-dollars Madison Stamp (Scott #312)

Common to most large denominations, the 2$ James Madison stamp found use on parcels. Uses on cover are difficult to find and solo uses are rare with only two recorded both to Palestine. This stamp was issued on June 5, 1903.

Varieties (Scott catalog number):

Common Uses:

  • Registered mail
  • Parcels
  • Heavy international letters

Solo Uses:

  • Philatelic

Other Info:

Scott 312 used block

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments

1-dollar Farragut Stamp (Scott #311)

Common to most large denominations, the 1$ Farragut stamp found use on heavy letters and parcels. Uses on cover are difficult to find and solo uses are rare. This stamp was issued on June 5, 1903.

Varieties (Scott catalog number):

Common Uses:

Solo Uses:

  • 20 times UPU 5¢ foreign letter rate.
  • 50 times domestic 2¢ rate.
  • Various combinations with special services.

    Solo $1 Farragut franking once tied to a bank tag. The tag was attached to a bag carrying $50 of fractional silver (coins). The postage paid the 8¢ registry fee plus 92 times the 2¢/ounce 1st class rate for up to 2.875 pounds. $50 of silver weighed 2.76 pounds.

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments

50-cents Jefferson Stamp (Scott #310)

Common to most large denominations, the 50¢ Thomas Jefferson stamp found use on heavy letters and parcels. Uses on cover are difficult to find. The stamp was issued on March 23, 1903.

Varieties (Scott catalog number):

Common Uses:

Solo Uses:

50c stamp to germany

50¢ solo franking 

Favorite Covers:

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments

15-cents Clay Stamp (Scott #309)

The Henry Clay stamp was issued May 27, 1903, and primarily found use on registered mail, parcels, and heavy letters.

Varieties (Scott catalog number):

Common Uses:

Solo Uses:

Favorite Covers:

hawaii to scotland

Registered from Hawaii to Scotland

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments

13-cents Harrison Stamp (Scott #308)

One of the two stamps issued in 1902 the 13¢ William Henry Harrison stamp found use on multiple rates and registered foreign destined mail. The stamp also saw use well into the 3rd bureau series (the Washington-Franklins) and was sold as late as 1911. Solo uses of the Harrison stamp are most commonly found on registered foreign destined covers.

Varieties (Scott catalog number):

Common Uses:

Solo Use:

Registered from Puerto Rico to Italy.

Favorite Covers:

Posted by Geoff in The Stamps, 0 comments