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Posted Jun 22, 17 12:50 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


Well, she did have a Spanish connection -- the greatest bullfighter of the time.  Although post divorce, I think, Frankie did not love that, although he was protective of her in his way until she died.

Posted Jun 22, 17 12:47 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


Yes.  One question is whether it was contract or non contract steamboat.  The handling of these was confused, especially in the 1840s on the Southern and Western rivers until the PMG more or less sorted it out at the end of 1852.  Henry Meyer and many books get this badly wrong.   This was probably a non contract steamer.   (Although if it was a contract, then maybe there was an officially contracted carrier who took care of it.) 
There are fragments of an interesting little problem -- who carries the mail between the carrier and the offfice?  As I recall, the horsey guys were supposed to carry the bag(s) into and from the PO but the clerk could help.  Off course with heavy RR mails, there were special messangers.  As a wild speculation, the apparent failure to institute a SB mail contract on the Hudson in 1813 may have faltered from this cause.  This may have been a key element in the non contract SB arrangements, as the PMG put it, in the early days.  The Mississippi was a mess because no one was able to sustain a large enough fleet to handle regular mailings, so by the trip contracting was used -- the same boat can appear as both a contract "way" marked carrier, or as non contract "steam."   Meyer failed to recognize that Steam was normally used for both, the Miss. network, for a time (and Mobile -- NO) being exceptions.

Posted Jun 22, 17 12:04 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Wilkinson County

So the letter was posted somewhere along the river, brought by steamer to a Wilkinson County landing, and brought from there to Woodville, all out of the mails, for collection by the addressee?

Posted Jun 22, 17 11:32 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Movie Maja

An eBay seller is offering this press photo that shows the simulated painting from the movie. Observe the face. The face.


Posted Jun 22, 17 10:53 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Ava Gardner

I think there is a movie -- I have only seen a still in her biography? -- in which there is a statue of Gardner in the buff.   I wonder how they handled the problem of the painting in this movie -- did they use a reproducion of the original or do a Gardner imitation?

Posted Jun 22, 17 10:49 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Woodville Weirdness

That is a STEAM 5 not STEAMER, but that does not negate the question.  It is a listed marking but very rare.  That is peculiar  -- my 1855 Lippincott's has it 15 miles from the river.  (By then it was connecting by rail to St. Francisville 29 miles away).   I'm guessing they made a deal with someone near the wharf to bring the stuff in,  though I wonder about the economics of that. 

Posted Jun 21, 17 21:31 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

The Naked Maja motion picture

The title of the film is a tease. You don't get to see Ava Gardner unclothed. The only nudity is in the simulated painting. The story line is jarringly peculiar, because the villain and persecutor is Manuel Godoy (Gardner calls him man-you-el), whereas in actual history he was Goya's patron and owner of the painting, which most scholars believe portrays his mistress, not the Duchess of Alba. But the Inquisition scenes are probably as historically accurate as Hollywood was capable of scripting.

If anyone here wants to see it, I can lend my DVD.

Posted Jun 21, 17 21:19 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

new arrival

Why STEAMER? Woodville is the county seat of Wilkinson County, right in the middle, not on the river. My search for Holly Retreat plantation, also in Wilkinson County, revealed that it is near the Louisiana line (i.e., to the South of Woodville).

Posted Jun 21, 17 21:03 by Richard Babcock (babcock)

new arrival

new to my collection


Posted Jun 21, 17 20:04 by Darrell Ertzberger (mteton)

Maja in the mail

And an Italian meter publicizing the 1959 film


Posted Jun 21, 17 16:04 by Dave Savadge (nomad55)


Leonard - take the stamps outside and hold then in sunlight. The change is darn near instantaneous and very noticeable.

Posted Jun 21, 17 16:00 by Leonard Hartmann (hartmann)

new Eclipse of the Sun stamp

I first saw it yesterday and bought some for 
postage today, in most the touch to show the 
globe does not work and when it does it is so 
faint one can't see much, not sure if it shows the 
Earth or the Moon

Another PO blunder


Posted Jun 21, 17 13:32 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Other side

Madrid to Paris


Posted Jun 21, 17 13:31 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Not banned in Europe

in 1910


Posted Jun 21, 17 13:24 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Lancaster County

Look at a map of Lancaster County. If you are driving in the county and happen to be in Blue Ball, the shortest way to Paradise is via Intercourse. It's true.

I wish I could say I made up that quip, but it's been around for many decades.

Posted Jun 21, 17 13:21 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

And the inevitable

Great American novelization.


Posted Jun 21, 17 13:19 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Other side

of banned 1959 card


Posted Jun 21, 17 13:15 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

This one slipped through

despite the ban


Posted Jun 21, 17 13:07 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Banned from the U.S. mail in 1959

as obscene


Posted Jun 21, 17 12:38 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


The account below, based on memory  (and perhaps correct for some news reports at the time) appears to be mythical in some details -- see Wikipedia.

Posted Jun 21, 17 12:26 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Interesting letter

It pays to read the contents of  your stampless letters, which can yield surprises.

Example: Cover ID 25810

Here are links to the sender, Joshua Barney, U.S. Navy hero of the War of 1812, and the recipient, Judge Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, later known for the Armistad case, as told in the Steven Speilberg film.

Attached is the second page of the letter, signed by Joshua Barney, which is most interesting.


Posted Jun 21, 17 12:15 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Ribald collections

I think the Purser's had a collection of vulgaria.  One thing to look out for are those ribald humourous pseudo valentines -- near as can tell, they were sent by males to males -- I am not sure what the game was - c 1850 -- and when it disappeared.   i think Richard may have had an outstanding example of some such about ten years back.
PS John's appropos posting went up whilst this was being written.

Posted Jun 21, 17 12:13 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Town Names

Ohio will be hard-pressed to top Lancaster County, Pennsylvania when it comes to racy town names: Bird-in Hand, Blue Ball, Intercourse, Mount Joy, Paradise, and Virginville.


Posted Jun 21, 17 12:11 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Lewd post office names

As a teenager I once saw, about 1961,  an afternoon quiz show that Johnny Carson had before he hit the big time.  It involved bringing on unrelated couples with stories to tell -- I don't remember more -- perhaps inspired by Groucho Marx's show.  The couple was a slightly strange woman who had awakened in a morgue after an accident and a guy (Ralph Ginzberg) who was starting an erotic magazine.   That very posh, and quite soft core, though hard bound, mag was Eros.   The mass mailings were sent out from Intercourse, Pa and, I think, Blue Balls wherever.  Some of these mailings went to nuns and brothers who objected, and the publisher went to jail for a couple of years on mail charges, in a relatively easy Fed facility.  He wrote an article about the trauma of the experience, and was accused of whining because he did soft time.   I think the point was well taken though, that just having your freedom taken away is a very heavy punishment.   Of course while he was in trouble, the strictures on sex and drugs were disintergrating all over the courntry

Posted Jun 21, 17 11:33 by David Handelman (davidh)

Off-colour collecting

The late Allan Steinhart had an extensive collection of amusing postal history, ranging from the risqué to the obscene—postmarks from Dildo (NF), Come-by-chance (NF), Mile 69, etc, as well as non-postmarks, such as a stampless cover from Condom (Fr). From what I remember of Allan's accumulation, the US list of towns pointed to by Farley is mild by comparison.

He once exhibited it at a local (Toronto) show, and the judges refused to consider it.

Posted Jun 21, 17 10:43 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

Ohio names

As it so happens, I have an exhibit of Licking County, Ohio postal history, which on one of its outings obtained a gold medal but I haven't been able to replicate that success again.  The county and the river are, of course, named for the presence of salt licks. 

Pee Pee has captured the imagination of Ohio collectors for quite a while - it was mentioned in the very first issue of the Ohio Postal History journal.  By tradition (reported in literature as early as the 1840s) the name comes from initials found carved on a tree along a creek.  The creek was given that name, and so was a township, leading to the PO name.  it was changed to the rather less exciting Buchanan in the 1880s.

Here's a Pee Pee handstamp.  I have a manuscript kicking around somewhere but it isn't scanned.


Posted Jun 21, 17 10:32 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

Who says you can't have fun in a dollar box?  Here's a 1931 cover from Robert Siegel, who would have been 18 at the time. 


Posted Jun 21, 17 10:29 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Licking Valley

Bernard's mentioning of this lewd-sounding town gave me the idea for a great thematic collection.

There are more here


Posted Jun 21, 17 0:02 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

The L towns

A useless follow up to Brer Farley's briliancy (from 1870 list, L------y):  Le Roy, Liberty, Lilly, Lindsey, Londenderry, Licking Valley.  The apparent late use of the stamp is surprising.

Posted Jun 20, 17 13:33 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

314A on cover

Many thanks for doing this work, Ken. It's tedious and time-consuming, but the results can spur some thinking about what drives on-cover preservation rates. I took your data and plotted it on a chart (the solid red square) that depicts on-cover preservation of Victoria Half Lengths.

The diagonal dashed lines are lines of equal on-cover preservation rate, expressed as a percentage of the number printed.

The red circles are one penny stamps used mostly to mail newspapers and circulars. I presume they have low preservation rates because few people bothered to save newspapers.

In the blue box are the first issues; perhaps letters were more likely to be saved due to the novelty of the country's first adhesives.

In this case counting the covers (4) instead of the stamps doesn't move the red square downward very much.

The pale blue triangle is the first perforated stamp - again perhaps with novelty value.

So despite being junk mail, maybe the six stamps (four covers) survived because the stamps were unusual.


Posted Jun 20, 17 9:18 by Ken Lawrence (kenlawrence)

Junk mail stamp survival rates

From time to time we have bantered about survival rates, but here is a splendid case study that ought not be neglected. The imperforate 4¢ Ulysses S. Grant stamp (Scott 314A) was issued in May 1908, with all 25 sheets of 400, 10,000 stamps total, shipped to Detroit and processed into coils with Schermack Type III perforations.

Except for 50 unused stamps sold serendipitously to Karl Koslowski, the balance were used on two firms' mass mailings of double-weight advertising printed matter.

Today the Siegel census shows 54 records, including multiples, 64 stamps in all. All the unused examples (22 total, including 6 pairs) originated from the Koslowski hoard, as did 3 covers (one bearing a strip of three), 1 off-cover canceled pair, 1 off-cover canceled strip of three, and an unknown number of used singles, possibly as many as 18 if all of his were saved, out of 31 known to exist.

From the commercial mailings only 1 full cover and 1 stamp on piece are recorded, although a vigorous search for them began as soon as American collectors learned of their existence. (The first was found in July 1908, and the initial report was published in September.)

Posted Jun 20, 17 6:29 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

I had considered the L.  But I think you are on to something with Lindsey.  The office opened in 1869 but I suppose it's not out of the question to see an ungrilled 1861 issue in use...

Posted Jun 19, 17 22:54 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Ohio town

L, not S. Lindsey?

Posted Jun 19, 17 18:08 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

thanks for the guesses.  Will figure it out eventually!  (one reader suggested Smiley, a Paulding County office - which I think fits the text best, but I don't think the post office opened until the 1880s).

Posted Jun 19, 17 17:19 by Lawrence Gregg (ecovers)


S. Valley - for Spring Valley?

Posted Jun 19, 17 13:28 by Michael Gutman (mikeg94)



Posted Jun 19, 17 12:50 by steven frumkin (sfrumkin)


Schenley ?

Posted Jun 19, 17 12:42 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)


looks somewhat like Stanley

Posted Jun 19, 17 12:34 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Matt's mystery town

Assuming S-------y, all I could find from the 1870 PO list: Sandy, Sicily, Sidney, Shelby, Sidney, Sunbury, Siverly.  Maybe I missed something.  Maybe a variant on Siverly, but that is quite a stretch.  Incidentally, the shade looks like c1866.  It is hard to imagine that the O is anything but Ohio.

Posted Jun 19, 17 12:25 by John Barwis (jbarwis)


Just went through a list of Ohio towns in a 2008 atlas, looking for those that start with S and end in Y. The only one that comes close is Stanley (which doesn't look right).

Since the endorsement and the cancel look to be the same ink, I would assume a PM applied them both...

Do you have an old atlas?

Posted Jun 19, 17 11:40 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

Have to admit I'm baffled by this one.  Ohio, of course, but can't discern the town name even after playing with a variety of strings on Jim Forte's PO list.  Thoughts?


Posted Jun 19, 17 0:04 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

A shilling for my thoughts, Searchable Registers

Rich -- I will have to hire you as my translator.
Terry -- there was  a philatelic project to digitize the Registers.  Great progress was made and then it was apparently shelved.  I offered to  help with some of the editing, but ....   Genealogybank has some of them -- maybe all of them -- but I couldn't figure out how to access them -- a chunk showed up randomly in a search I did, but I could not get at them systematically.  As I recall, their customer service  couldn't give me a key, either.  I needed them for my fancy manuscript exhibit -- I want to attach hundreds of markings to their postmasters.

Posted Jun 18, 17 16:05 by Terence Hines (thines)

"Searchable" Official Register

I've just tried the search function on the Official Registers at the Hathitrust  Site and its bloody useless.

Posted Jun 18, 17 13:34 by Richard Drews (bear427)

plain English


I think it is his shorthand for 24 cents US : 1 shilling GB.


Posted Jun 18, 17 12:59 by Mark Schwartz (schwamoo)

Salem Fancy

Can anyone provide information (or direct me to a source for such) on the negative and reversed "S" in Star on this Salem letter from January 29, 1880? Thanks.


Posted Jun 18, 17 7:24 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Plain English Please


What on Earth does 24 / 1/ mean?

Posted Jun 17, 17 13:40 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Treaty rate to California

For 24 / 1/  I mistyped 24 / 1/ 2 1/2  (an error of perserveration.)

Posted Jun 17, 17 9:58 by David Handelman (davidh)

Canadian war tax, DLO

What typically happened with a shortpaid cover having no visible return address was the following.

It was sent to the local dead letter office (DLO), where it was opened, and a return address found. A notice was sent to the sender, saying it was shortpaid, and for the sender to send the short payment (via stamps together with the notice) to the same local DLO. When this was received, the stamps were attached and the item sent on.

If no return address was found (as typically was the case for postcards), a form was sent to the addressee, requesting postage—if the addressee were in the US, they could send US postage, and this would be replaced by Canadian stamps—which was applied at the DLO, and the item sent on. In my exhibit, Returned from the Dead, on Richard's Mercury website, almost at the very end, there are a number of such forms, one addressed to the US.

Interesting that the added stamp was the perf 8 1¢ Admiral vertical coil.

Posted Jun 17, 17 9:52 by John Barwis (jbarwis)

Stamp Agent


Not sure if the Agent actually had an office at the plant, but all movements of stamps went through him, so he obviously spent a lot of time there. If you go to and read through the Travers Papers, you will see the original documents that reflect his activities.

Posted Jun 17, 17 7:11 by paul bourke (paulb3)

Stamp Agent


In the course of going through Elliott Perry Pat Paragraphs and studying the early history of the "new stamps," i.e., the Issue of 1861, Perry gives figures for the number of "new stamps" ordered from the "stamp agent" week by week From mid-August, 1861, until the end of the year.

My impression is that the Stamp Agent was a POD official who was stationed more or less at the printing plant and filled orders for stamps that came from the POD for eventual distribution to postmasters throughout the country.

Does this sound right? If not, can you explain his responsibilities? Many thanks.