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Posted May 22, 17 22:41 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Italy cover-- from ascent to victory to crash and burn? Say it ain't so.

Farley --- be ye of good cheer --  I thought you were going far in the right direction.  I thought the main -- perhaps not the only -- loose end was whether there should be a penalty charge on top of the unpayment.
1) The cover originated (in NY) as a triple = 6 cents  (I would think once it was delivered to the forwarder, those stamps should have been history, but there may have been some confusion
2) 5 cents -- single international in error put on by forwarder.  Marked by forwarder verso and stamps recancelled and cancelled by NYPO.
3)  Marked Due "T"  at NY.  The 4/45 seems to be the mystery.   The 45 certainly became 45 centisimi or 9 cents and 9 cents plus 11 cents = 20 cents which is quadruple international (the domestic was by the ounce -- what was UPU?).
Did UPU allow partial payments?  (Only alternative would be double rate plus penalty -- 10x2=20-11=9=45).  Is the 4 for a quadruple.  (If so, why the mismatch with the initial triple -- which might have been over or undetected underpaid).
Do enlighten us -- why do you think you are nuts.   Or do you mean crazy like a fox?

Posted May 22, 17 20:18 by Mike Girard (reywest1)

Cover to Italy, my thanks.

As always the members of this board have not disappointed. I would like to thank Messrs.' Katz, Weismann, Martin, Biales and Porter (great name for a law firm but I digress) for all the great information they provided me on the cover to Italy I posted last week, I am the wiser for it. Alas the cover is not mine, it belongs to a friend and it will be up to him what he wants to do with the cover. If it were mine I'd have to put it away until time came that I could afford to have it restored.

Thanks again to everyone who helped bring the cover to life. Regards, Mike Girard.

Posted May 22, 17 20:08 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Thoughts beyond last thoughts

Ray sent me an email demonstrating, with mathematical precision, that my analysis of the Girard cover was, to put it simply, nuts. Although he was very polite and he didn't use that word, I must agree he is right. But if I am nuts, what is my opinion worth? Nut much.

Posted May 22, 17 15:59 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Jacksonville, Gold River Valley, Oregon

Bernard B.: Thanks for deciphering the docketing on my cover and confirming that it is March.

George T.: Thanks for your comments on my incoming territorial cover. Yes, you have a point; possibly the recipient was out of town (maybe digging in the goldfields) for a long time before he picked up his mail in Jacksonville. Makes sense to me. So I can't be certain it was a long transit time. However, businessmen back then relied on the private Oregon Express companies rather than the slower inefficient, government mails.

Here is a 1870 Wells Fargo use from Jacksonville, Oregon, part of the well-known Marks correspondence in Roseburg. Link: Cover ID 25701

Wells Fargo's established their office in Jacksonville in 1863, buying out Beekman's Express. C.C. Beekman stayed on as Wells Fargo's agent in Jacksonville.

Can anyone show an example of a Beekman's Express cover? They are quite rare. Thanks.


Posted May 22, 17 15:07 by George Tyson (gtyson)

long transit time

The receipt docketing may or may not indicate a long transit time. It can also be the date that the addressee finally got back into town and picked up the letter at the Post Office. In the wilds of the Gold Country, postmasters got used to people who didn't pick up their mail promptly and the "advertised" and DLO procedures were less commonly used. Occasionally, a search of newspaper records (e.g. turns up a specific reason for a delay in transit but in most cases I've found that you really can't explain the kind of discrepancy that's represented by your cover. It's a nice cover, in any case.

Posted May 22, 17 14:37 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

long transit time

(Jumbled) Rcd Mar 9 1857
Answered Mar 15 1857

Posted May 22, 17 14:26 by David Snow (dwsnow)

long transit time

I am trying to decipher the month in the docketing on the face of this transcontinental cover from Vermillionville, Illinois to Jacksonville, Gold River Valley, Oregon Territory. The manuscript postmark is Nov. 15 (1856, I assume) but the docketing looks like Mar (?) 9 1857. Which seems like an excessive transit time, even given the fact that it traveled by stage on its last leg, probably from Portland south to Jacksonville. 

Link: Cover ID 25700

On modern roads the distance from Portland to Jacksonville is 273 miles. Can anyone confirm that the arrival month is indeed March? Thank you in advance.


Posted May 22, 17 10:51 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Last thoughts on the Girard cover

First, I believe Bernard is right this cover originated in New Jersey and Ray is right it was mailed to Chester Smith at a travel agency which then forwarded it to Florence. (The Savoy Hotel readdress is partly under the left stamps confirming they were added).

Second, the "4/45" looks like American handwriting; not Italian.

Third, it seems unlikely that the letter was 4x weight. Maybe it was only 2x weight (notwithstanding the original 6c = 3x weight). Could the clerk have rated it 4x to include the penalty for underpayment? Ray's calculations would then get you to 45 centesimi (correct UPU postage of 10c doubled to 20c for penalty, less 11c prepaid = 9 cents x 5 conversion rate = 45 centesimi.)

Fourth - Was it correct to count the original 6c postage in assessing the postage due? I dont know what the rules were for counting existing postage on forwarded letters. Do you ignore the postage after it was taken out of the mail stream and delivered somewhere? Were the pen cancels an indication not to count the 6c postage? Whatever the rules, it might have been done here.

Finally, should Mike have the cover restored to its original glory?


Posted May 22, 17 8:21 by Ravi Vora (nusivar)

China Via Burma Censored Cover


Many thanks for corrections and help in dating this cover, rate analysis and censor marking. Now I can more correctly describe this cover for my monograph.


Posted May 22, 17 2:26 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)

China to US via Burma

As the old saying goes: I've got this (mainly on account of having the time difference working for me).

Cover is from Kunming (ain' no such animal as Kunmingtang). Yunnanfu was a more traditional name for Kunming.

Not airmail. Triple-weight surface rate. Taking the rate into account in conjunction with the stamps (Scott #387 and #410), this could be either a 1940 or 1941 cover. Yeardate is not visible in the postmark, but month and day indicate April 21st.

Morenweiser lists this style of censor marking used in Rangoon from April 1941 to March 1942. Assuming those dates are correct, this would make the date of posting April 21, 1941, and a first-month example of the censor marking.

I don't believe the routing can be determined with 100% certainty, but suspect that it went via Calcutta and eastbound from there, crossing the Pacific to the US.

Posted May 21, 17 23:48 by Ravi Vora (nusivar)


While organizing my recent acquisitions of covers for my US Consular Mail-China collection, I came across this American Consular Service, Yunnanfu, China pre-printed cover to the Secretary of State, Washington, DC (Similar to Ex-Roosevelt consular covers). Cover bears $1.10 in Chinese stamp tied by Chinese Post Office cancel (Kumingtang)and bears a purple, circular hand stamp, "NOT OPENED BY CENSOR BURMA " with "33" or "32" in the middle.

Can fellow board members help determine if this Censor cancel from Burma is previously reported and what was the routing of the cover from China to Washington DC via Burma? There are no other postal markings. Also the $1.10 postage paid on the cover seems to be that for airmail but there are no markings.

Thanks in advance.



Posted May 21, 17 20:30 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Château de Bellegarde, France

Here is a picture of the Château de Bellegarde, the castle referred to in the 1675 letter. Construction began in the 14th Century, and was completed in the 18th Century.


Posted May 21, 17 20:29 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Genealogybank, Italy

Genealogybank is very valuable, but I do not think their search engine is reliable.
Their staff does attempt to respond to individual questions, but I don't trust the systems. 

It is clear the origin postmark on the Italy cover is there -- maybe New Jersey.  The notion that it was rated due in Italy as a triple is interesting.  But how did they figure that out, given the US markings?  Is the 4/45 US and if so, what does it mean?  In other words, how did Italy know the stamps on the right were no good and that only five cents had been paid?

Posted May 21, 17 20:24 by David Snow (dwsnow)

1675 French letter

I am trying to figure out the origin of this French letter in my collection, dated 31 July 1675, to Toulouse.  Cover ID 25696.

The first line begins with "Le Château de Bellegarde". But the last line at bottom states "au Boulou le 31 Jullett 1675" (at Boulou on 31 July 1675) which is a town in southern France, only 12 km from the Spanish border. Which I doubt is the origin.

The letter, which has no postal markings so evidently was privately carried, has an ornate red wax seal which I am showing here. I am slowly translating the letter itself using my limited knowledge of French. The second line partially translates as "after six days of . . . " (Après six jours de) And the second to last line mentions something about prisoners. Above the signature is "obéissant serviteur" (Obedient Servant).  The handwriting is beautiful.

Any ideas on the origin of this letter would be appreciated.


Posted May 21, 17 19:57 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Rick's cover to New London

It's worth noting that the ship that carried Rick's Monterey-New London cover called at Pernambuco, as did many sailing ships that rounded Cape Horn for ports in North America or Europe. Not only was the route via Pernambuco optimal in terms of currents and prevailing winds, but it provided the opportunity to pick up food and fresh water.

Posted May 21, 17 19:26 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Online Newspapers

It was actually Richard Frajola who put me onto the GenealogyBank website a couple years ago. It's invaluable for anyone who does a lot of American maritime postal history. As do similar sites in Great Britain and Australia, one can search hundreds of newspapers simultaneously.

GenealogyBank is now beta testing a new front end and search options, so I can imagine that in a few months it will be even better.

Posted May 21, 17 18:39 by Bill Weismann (billw2)

Cover to Italy

If I had to wager..

Cover was originally franked with the 5c and 1c stamps for triple domestic 2c rate due to weight.

It was then forwarded to Italy and 5c to pay foreign postage was added but the forwarder didn't think that it was a triple rate cover and didn't add the 15c to pay 3x UPU rate.

Just my thoughts....


Posted May 21, 17 18:15 by Rick Mingee (ramingee)

Early California - When it was Still Part of Mexico!

I love this cover, so I needed to post it (and add to census). Datelined Monterey California Oct 6th 1843. "Per Bark North America" endorsement. Shipping intelligence states the North America departed Monterey Oct 9th and arrived in New London, CT April 4 (1844), it was a whaling ship.

Orange-red CDS of New London, APR 4 and "SHIP" marking. Rated 14.5 cents due, 12.5 cents for the distance from New London to Boston, plus 2 cent ship fee. Unpaid 12.5 cent rate is for single sheet with a distance of 80-150 miles. Google maps has it near 107 miles so right in the range (and I am sure the exact route was not the google map route but something close).

A journey of 6 months, from California at a time it was sparsely populated and not even part of the US.


Posted May 21, 17 17:51 by Rick Mingee (ramingee)

CT Newspaper Online Archives

I found a link...the link is called John Barwis' email address!! While I flailed around begging for a hit, he found it in less than a minute. He actually used - lots of people here have said how good it is, apparently I need to un-cheap out and buy the subscription.

Thank you, Barwis is the man!

Oh and thanks Lawrence too for the input.

Posted May 21, 17 17:25 by Craig Martin (saracv3)

Online Newspapers

Howdy Larry!

Long time! Try Chronicling America from the LOC. The Hartford Courant should be in several open source databases, as well as the NYT, even though they say they're not. Look in Wikipedia under Open Source newspaper archives, databases, journals, etc.. In CT, there are the most academic libraries per square mile, I think. How do I know? I was an academic librarian at St. Joseph University in West Hartford. So if one has a chance to walk into a brick n mortar academic library, there's the key to all the resources. The students are barely using the buildings anymore; they've got access to the databases via online passwords from any e-device.

Posted May 21, 17 17:14 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Girard Cover

There is more to this cover than has been discussed. There are 3 duplexes dated Dec 24, all at the same angle and tying all 4 stamps. That just means those cancels were made after all 4 stamps were on the cover. The right two stamps, however, besides pen cancels, also have different vertical (not angled) killers with duplex cds (?) of a larger diameter than and different from the Dec 24 ones. It is not clear, but the 4 cent stamp may be on top of one of these larger cds. If that's so, the right hand stamps were added first, cancelled, and the other two stamps added later.


Posted May 21, 17 15:15 by Lawrence LeBel (lawrence lebel)

New London 1844

Rick, I tried to see if there was a New London newspaper online. There doesn't seem so for that time period (1844).

Ct Historical society or CT Law Library may have hard copy of something but their hours are not conducive for me to go during week (both are close by to me).

Hartford Courant may be online at newspaperarchive.(com?)

Posted May 21, 17 14:40 by Craig Martin (saracv3)

Girard Cover Stamps

I think all four stamps were affixed at one time. The duplexes (not cds' as I stated before; again, my apology for these mistakes.) are applied in one patttern, and all are on Dec. 24. Yes, that pen cancel appears like there were only two stamps. Or is that a pen cancel?

Posted May 21, 17 14:00 by Craig Martin (saracv3)

Girard Cover

My apology on that fractional confusion. I was wrong on putting it in as a fractional notation. That's why I damn near flunked math. I don't think it was forwarded. It originated from Raymond & Whitcomb. I think it was a return address that was unneeded. Nate that R&W had that blue private dcds on the back. So maybe an employee crossed out another employee's mistake. At that point, the person doing the crossing out underlined Italy.

Is it possible the letter was triple weight to Italy? Thus 4c underpaid. But you would think if it was that heavy it would be in a bigger or heavier weight paper envelope.

Posted May 21, 17 13:59 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Girard cover to Italy

Ray, That may not be a conclusion, but it seems mighty close.  I like the idea that the initial franking was only the two stamps.  That it has no origin postmark is unusual.
I supose that it might have been put on a contract train, someplace close to NY and they didn't have time to mark it properly, or last minute at some town, but that is kinda speculative.

Posted May 21, 17 13:56 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Blue star

Just to make it a little clearer, the idea is that the star is a Washington marking, not destination.

Posted May 21, 17 13:28 by David D'Alessandris (davidd)

6 West 48th

Very close to American Girl Place (yes, I have little girls)

Posted May 21, 17 12:37 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

6 West 48th St

Scott - Congrats on your move!

I attended my first public auction in that building in 1964 - I flew in from Ohio to buy a "Dockwra" handstamped cover that cost about $35 and then flew back to Ohio. It was real theater in those days, proscenium arch, Bernard Harmer behind the podium and a room full of bidders. It made quite an impression on me as 16 year old newcomer.

Posted May 21, 17 11:16 by Scott Trepel (strepel)

Siegel's New Address

Effective immediately: 6 West 48th Street 9th Floor New York, NY 10036

Phone and email the same.

Posted May 21, 17 10:41 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Shipping data


I have often found that arrivals and departures missing from newspapers in the port of interest can be found in the newspapers of other cities. You have tried NY, so try Boston and Philadelphia.

Occasionally Lloyd's List will have recorded an arrival and departure that is missing from U.S. papers.

Posted May 21, 17 9:58 by Rick Mingee (ramingee)

CT Newspaper Online Archives

Can anyone point me to a digitized newspaper archive for CT in 1844 (more specifically New London, and in April). I dug around and the NY papers are not listing the marine intelligence for this port, and I did not find other online papers that aligned to CT or the year.

If you have a link, I would appreciate it.

Posted May 21, 17 7:56 by Ravi Vora (nusivar)

Blue Star Cancel

I have a USPO envelope with a "STAR" in circle cancel somewhere. It is either black or blue but can't recall now. Worst, it is lurking somewhere in one of my US Officials postal history albums or boxes at home!


Posted May 21, 17 2:06 by Alan Campbell (alan campbell)

Return Letter Office to Salem, Virginia

This style of datestamp, with the hour of the day but no year date, was used at the main Washington, D.C. post office, 1875-1877. The style of this envelope, with the corner card in the upper right, derives from the free frank era pre-1873. Bob Markovits, for some reason, took an interest in these Return Letter covers, building a small collection and trying to puzzle out the meaning of the number in the lower left. This is basically an ambulance cover, in which an undeliverable letter is being returned to the sender. Since the McCauley correspondence apparently survived, the letter enclosed in this cover must have been successfully delivered to its sender.

It is conceivable that the blue star in circle killer derives from a vulcanized rubber commercial cancelers, which as early as 1876 were being sold to small-town postmasters. Perhaps the postmaster in Salem, Virginia had such a device (colored aniline inks worked better than black printer's ink for rubber devices). But these cancellers were usually duplexed with a CDS. I could see the postmaster in Salem putting a datestamp on this cover when first received, maybe so he could time the minimum 30 days he was mandated to keep it. But striking the killer alone makes no sense. A plausible explanation for the presence of this marking eludes me.

Posted May 21, 17 0:00 by Ray Porter (rporter314)

Girard Cover to Italy

I see something a little different but still can not reach a conclusion.

My experience with fractions is the numerator indicates rate (in this case 4x) and denominator indicates shortage (in this case 45 centimes).

A little speculation: originally sent to Mr Smith as a 3x rate domestic 1st class letter to the offices of Raymond & Whitcomb (a travel agency) at 25 Union Sq. Mr Smith  was travelling to Italy, R & W forwarded letter, so additional 5 cents added (thus the difference between pen cancelled and duplexes). The exchange clerk rated it as UPU 4x. 11 cents was paid, thus it was short 9 cents which converted to 45 centimes (9x5). Thus deriving the notation "4/45".

The conversion in 1905 for 45 centimes was 45 centesimi. Of course this does not explain why the shortage did not reflect the UPU penalty for short paid matter.

The only conclusion I have is Italian exchange clerk erroneously rated the letter without penalty.

Posted May 20, 17 23:25 by Russell Crow (cornwall2)

Blue Star

I have seen many hundreds of covers from the McCauley correspondence and I have never seen one with the blue star on it before. From what I have seen, the McCauley correspondence primarily runs from the very late 1850's up to the early 1890's. I was born and raised in Salem VA and have a special interest in covers from there and have a large collection of items from the town/city and have never seen a usage as such but that doesn't mean it isn't legit..

Posted May 20, 17 23:15 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Girard Cover to Italy

I have trouble understanding how the cover got to the forwarder.  Maybe it was sent under cover.  Why didn't they properly frank it, or did it have the stamps on already?  Why do the two stamps at right have pen cancels, especially considering they were well cancelled by handstamp?   (45 centimes, not .45 centimes)

Posted May 20, 17 19:40 by Craig Martin (saracv3)

Mike Girard's Cover to Italy

Hi Mr. Girard:

Before I answer, I like to admit that I am not anything more than a student, no veteran, in postal history. That is what makes this list so valuable, what w/ top postal historians conversing w/ greenhorns. It is too bad your cover was overlooked. It is of minor consequence that it has tears and soiling in my book. Not all postal history needs to look like philatelic productions. Yes, looks like it has taken a beating. If it was modern maybe it would not be worth the time. But look at the franking. Nice! But true, those flaws affect value. However, don't throw it to the fishes.

The cover entered the mail on Dec. 24, 1905. It appears that the cover was sent to Chester Smith / Savoy Hotel / Florence Italy w/ the return address on the front. That makes it confusing and the postal authorities crossed out that return address in NYC. After all, they had Raymond & Whitcomb's address on the back w/ the private blue dcds. I think Chester Smith worked at Raymond & Whitcomb. Note that Chester Smith's name is not crossed out on the front. It would be fun to research both Smith and Raymond & Whitcomb Co..

The "4/45" in pencil means that the cover was .04 USD shortpaid = .45 Italian centimes. This notation was written in New York City to go overseas for further processing by the Italian post office in Florence. (tough to make out that Florence cds, other than it's Florence)- "NY/T" stands for New York/Tax. If both Italy and the US were signatories to the latest UPU Convention, all postage due collected would probably be sent back to the country sending the shortpaid mail. Unfortunately, I do have my Wawrukiewicz book w/ me here in Seattle to do a little research verifying this. Whatever was the case, the 45 centimes postage due franking did take place making for an interesting piece.

It is strange that officials in NYC put an understated pencil marking. Usually one sees a large crayon marking or a pen marking. One thing comes to mind; the pencil was an "in" writing utensil during that day. It is also a mystery to me that the Italians did not postmark in port. Maybe someone else can shed some further light here.

Some "gurus" of markings on late 19th/20th century covers are Anthony Wawrukiewicz, Ken Lawrence, John Hotchner, Richard Frajola and Chad Snee, just off the top. I'm just an abecedarian. Tony Wawrukiewicz's book"US International Rates 1872-1996", w/ 2012 update on pdf file (pdf is free) is an essential piece of lit for your library if you don't have it.

Posted May 20, 17 17:18 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Blue Star

Not my area, but I believe I have seen those items with fancies hanging out like that.  No theory about the functional significance.

Posted May 20, 17 15:07 by Matthew Kewriga (mkewriga)

blue star marking


I have not noticed another example of the blue star used like that. I am not 100% certain that it is original to the item.

Posted May 20, 17 9:03 by Richard Drews (bear427)

blue star marking

I received an email asking for info on this cover and the marking in particular. Any comments would be welcome. Thanks.



Posted May 20, 17 7:19 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Italian duke

The addressee was the Duca di Monasterace. See, e.g., "The Tomacelli Family" which depicts the "Stemma della Famiglia Tomacelli, duchi di Monasterace e di Santa Caterina." = The arms of the Tomacelli family, dukes of Monasterace and Santa Caterina. Monasterace is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Reggio Calabria, way down in the foot of Italy. Santa Caterina is a little ways up the coast. But, as noted, the letter was sent to Naples.

Looks like Monasterace was misspelled as Monastarace.

Posted May 20, 17 4:26 by tony gade (holstein*2007)

Proofs - Danish West Indies

The 6 cents proofs...


Posted May 20, 17 4:25 by tony gade (holstein*2007)

Proofs - Danish West Indies

In a collection I bought from Norway, these were three proofs of DWI stamps - are there anyone who previously have seen the 2 cents ?

The 6 cents Is previously described in Engström Danish West Indies Mails - Volume 2


Posted May 19, 17 21:19 by Scott Trepel (strepel)


My mother's maiden name was Starace. She was proud of her part Italian heritage.

Posted May 19, 17 20:32 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Naples duke

The last word, I believe, is Starace. Starace appears to be common in Naples

Added later:

The address appears to be:

Monsieur le Duc de ------ Starace, Capece Tomacelli, 19 S[an]ta Caterina a Chiaia, Naples

Posted May 19, 17 16:33 by Barry Jablon (friday)

Some royal help, please?

Via Queenstown (now Cobh) to Monsieur le duc-- in Naples. I Googled various things like Mont and Storace and struck out. Help? Thanks


Posted May 19, 17 14:42 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

US crews

Sounds interesting.  But it was often a little unclear if they needed rescuing from the Sovs almost as much as from the Germans.

Posted May 19, 17 14:39 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


Schmutz? Scmutz?  We are confronted with the secrets of the universe, and all you can say is Schmutz.  Very disappointing.  It may be schmutz, but it is Really Good schmutz.

Posted May 19, 17 14:13 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Scratches or cracks

Looks like schmutz to me

Posted May 19, 17 7:09 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

WW2 Rescues


I should not have written "often" in that part of the sentence. The carrier pigeon messages were sent, enough of them that the crews needed a constant flow of reserves/reinforcements/replacements, but the rescues were few. However, some aircraft were retrieved and some crews were rescued if they landed near or close to or behind the Soviet advance. A book that has useful details about the rescues and retrievals (but not the pigeons) is Beyond the Call: The True Story of one World War II Pilot's Covert Mission to Rescue POWs on the Eastern Front by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield, but is seriously weakened by the imposition of postwar Cold War political myopia.

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