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Posted Oct 19, 17 12:54 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Obscure language

What,pray tell, is an "unthreaded thread"  -- I am way behind on newspeak.
(Also, would lit fuses be a synonym in these cases?)

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:53 by Mark Robbins (funcitypapa4051)

Use of language

It has always been my thought that if one truly understands their subject they can firstly explain it to themselves and secondly explain it to others. Fancy language which I regard as stuffy does nothing to aid that communication and in my opinion is designed to take the place of answering simple questions clearly and concisely.

i believe that there are likely some very sophisticated members of the USPCS and this board. However my definition of a distinguished audience or person has nothing to do with being a member of either.

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:49 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Free Franks -- a study/collecting/ exhibit opportunity

   It occurs to me that I have never seen a study of problematic free frank covers.  This could make a fine one frame (or, at least) half frame.
   Of the top of my head, a starting point for a typology would include such things as:
    Free frank lapsed (addressee no longer a PM, etc.  Out side the calendric limits on congressional franks),
    Attempts to free frank to state officials who had not the privilege
    Franker has the frank and frank genuine, but the actual letter is from someone (clerk, friend, relative) without the frank.  There are wonderful examples involving a General who Franklin disliked -- great story).
    Customary but illegal or extralegal uses.  I am not sure the PM frank had basis in the colonial period before the cut off (there is a letter announcing the cut off).  Also the institution of the free frank for PMs during the Revolution is mysterious.
    Fake free franks by random individuals trying to game the system.
    Fake free franks authorized by and authorized free franker.
    Broadcast free franks (to civil war soldiers)
    Use of free frank by PM for private purposes after such became limited to official (governmental) purposes.

   Falling outside this, but favorites in my transitional cover collection are a cover initially postmarked and free marked as June 30 (1845) then remarked as July 1 and 5.  I have another June 30 where the writer recounts all the correspondence he has been involved in to beat the upcoming revocation of the PM free fran.


Posted Oct 19, 17 12:36 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Andrew's collection

While I have not, at least so far, had any wet dreams about Andrew's data, it is a magnificent holding that I think can illustrate or, better, fill in some of the interesting questions at the margins.  My exhibit provided some data, but there may be more types when they started a sort on day of arrival (early morning), but ran out of time before the departure.  Also,  there may be some interesting very rare errors or other oddities I did not pick up for my exhibit.

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:32 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Downstreaming Definition

Andrew's definition is a good start.  As indicated in my last, there are furbelows and curlicues to be added, which makes the analysis painful, but also rewarding.
(What is a furbelow?)
As indicated below, the practice was not limited to Boston and is part of a larger picture of special handling of overload boluses of covers.  Another manifestation is the reduction of the standard marking set to accelerate handling of overloads ("short marking") -- this going back to colonial times.

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:28 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Ex Cathedra? -- Pshaw!

David,  Although I reject your use of the phrase ex cathedra, I will add a few tidbits in response to your challenge:
   1)  The rejection of the PMGs request to a system of partial through mail is to be found in Dick's valuable article.  Obviously, I think the analysis deeply flawed, but this is document is a fact.
   2)   The PMG request lists specific towns for special handling.  But the cover population as found both by myself and by Andrew shows many towns not on the list (I will dig out specific examples if you think that would be helpfu).  One of the most interesting group involves three or four covers with the same  unlisted marking that geographical/postal functionally only fits with handling at the DPO of Albany.  So these doubly do not conform to the PMG request.  There is at least one cover to Kentucky with special handling, which makes absolutely no sense in terms of UK bagging for POs on the great line.  An interesting peculiarity is that the few known downstreamed covers to Augusta were marked up at New York or Philadelphia, which is odd given that Augusta was on the PMG list.
   3)  I went through and established time of arrival of the ships (Dick Winter was very helpful in this regard).  I also established the route from the ship to the PO and thence to the train station.  The time required for through bags would have been of the order of an hour, maybe less.  But the pattern of actual downstreaming corresponds to a processing time of about four hours -- indicating that a presort was done at Boston.  A further major failure of the old theory was that it ignored (sample failure 2) to account for the large number of covers to towns on the PMG list that were not downstreamed.   These are explainable as arriving early enough that Boston could properly process them and get them on the train.  (Note that in some marginal cases, special express trains were sent out to meet the Providence streamer).  Those too late for quick sort (without marking) were held over for the next day's mail (or Monday's in the case of later Saturday or Sunday arrivals -- there was no Sunday steamer).
   3)  The sampling failures in the Chronicle article fall into four categories.  The two that are crucial are, that despite the large sample size,  no letters to towns off the PMG list show up as they inevitably do (in both my and Andrew's samples) and the large number of non downstreamed covers to towns on the PMG list are not noted.

I should add that during the later part of the period the addition of new routes complicates, but does not falsify the general picture.  Also there are very interesting anomalies and errors that reflect handling under stress.  In one case, the PO at NY opened late to deliver the Cunard letters late -- the opening of the insurrections in Europe evidently providing cause for an extra effort in gettin businessmen the latest correspondence.  Note that the Cunarders were often bringing news a week or even two ahead of previous arrivals.

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:28 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


Andrew, thank you for a truly excellent explanation of “downstreaming” and an equally excellent use of the English language to clarify the term. We are fortunate to share one of the most eloquent languages on the planet, and I am becoming irritated by the sprinkling of unnecessary other unrelated languages into discussions – such as “Ex Cathedra Pronunciamentos”. Mixing Latin and Spanish is annoying enough, but fractured French as in “visa vie” when presumably the writer meant “vis-à-vis” is even more unnecessary.

We use the language of Shakespeare, Milton, even Winston Churchill and my favourite orator Douglas MacArthur (just listen to his farewell address to West Point). Why adulterate it with pointless, and occasionally pompous, pronouncements?

John W.

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:28 by David D'Alessandris (davidd)


Bernard - I am simply asking that you provide support for your theory.  I was not part of the "distinguished audience" at Boxborough in 2014.  Please post your explanation here or write an article for the Chronicle or some other journal.  Citing to an oral presentation you gave three years ago doesn't allow me, or anyone else, to evaluate your theory. 
As I said, you may be correct.  I have a cover from Newfoundland that was downstreamed to Philadelphia (Philamercury #9599 that should not exist if the mailbags were prepared in GB.  

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:20 by Richard Hilty (rhilty)

Messina Italy via Lanslebouurg??

I have this cover and am trying to figure out, among other things, when and where and why it went inland. The French entry mark indicates it entered France at Lanslebourg. On the back IS a clear strike of "NAPOLI" AS WELL AS a partial strike of Torino which is North of Genoa and just east of France and close to Lanslebourg. The "via Genovia" upper left may b a ship or a reference to the city which is on the coast just west of "Tourino". I haven't been able to connect the cover with any French steamers from Messina and they would all have gone via Marseille anyway. I hope someone here would know where I can find information or books regarding Italian maritime mail in the mediterranean between 1860 and 1870. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Posted Oct 19, 17 12:01 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)


Let me take a crack at a definition: "The practice of mails sent by British Packet via Boston that were destined for certain cities (New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, New Orleans, etc.) being handled and rated separately at those cities and not in Boston. Recorded originally as early as the November 4, 1843 Cunard sailing but not consistently until later in 1844. The practice accounts for the lack of Boston markings on transatlantic covers to some of these destinations in this period as well as a number of distinctive rate markings attributable to individual cities."

Example of a Philadelphia cover attached:


Posted Oct 19, 17 12:00 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Mysterious naysayers

John,  You may recall that before my talk at Boxborough, we took a tour through my exhibit.  I found that a very positive experience, and it led to an improvement in the presentation I gave, though no change in substance.  If you found substantial error, I take it as a disservice that you did not raise the issue then or later. 
   I am currious -- how many people object to my theory in your experience.

Posted Oct 19, 17 12:00 by Matthew Liebson (liebson)

John - I don't think they are considered truly "grounded" jennies until the wheels are into the word "cents".  They exist as far as the bottom of "cents" so this particular example is just the start of the possible shifting. 

Posted Oct 19, 17 11:52 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Ex Cathedra

David.  What do you mean by ex cathedra? 

My original point was that we had an opinion that was not followed up by analytical support.  (That does not make it wrong, it does mean that it provides no basis for discussion or analysis).  My downstreaming theory was presented to very sophisticated audience in sdetail -- both covers systematically presented with analysis including a long discusssion in one case and a shorter in another.  None of these resulted in specific objections, and only one person made non specific objection which he refused to support in any way.  The latter, while perhaps not exactly, is close to ex cathedra.  What I have done is  not.

Posted Oct 19, 17 11:43 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)

Something simpler

Codes, cyphers and secret handshakes. Here is a simpler query from an airmail friend of mine. He asked if I could identify the attached block of the world's favourite airmail stamp. He thinks it is a "Grounded Jenny" variety but I don't know....comments welcomed.

John W.


Posted Oct 19, 17 11:20 by Mark Robbins (funcitypapa4051)

Downstreaming? Theory? Ex cathedra?

Thanks for your message John W. I was starting to think I was the only one who had no idea what what the last several posts were talking about. Is this some sort of code?

Posted Oct 19, 17 10:05 by John Wilson (vladivohaken)


I am relieved that I do not have the faintest idea what "downstreaming" means in a philatelic context. I thought it might have a connection to trout fishing, which is a much more gentlemanly and peaceful pursuit.

John W.

Posted Oct 19, 17 9:59 by John Barwis (jbarwis)



I don’t know anyone who agrees with your downstreaming theory.


Posted Oct 19, 17 8:28 by David D'Alessandris (davidd)

Ex Cathedra pronunciamentos

Bernard -
you called out another post for being "analytically empty"

1) the British said they would not do what we wanted, and downstreaming provides the alternative [what is your basis for this ex Cathedra pronunciamento?]
2) the towns involved do not conform to the PMG wish list sent to the British, nor would it make sense for some of them to have special handling at that end [again what is your support for this statement]
3) the timing of the downstreaming with respect to time of arrival conforms to my theory and is way to long to fit the old theory.  [again what is your support for this statement]
I might add that the census in the published articles is statistically impossible.  [again what is your support for this statement]

As you indicated with regard to the other post, your theory may well be correct.  But I do not understand your theory. 

Posted Oct 18, 17 23:14 by Andrew Reid (andrewukusa1847)


Bernard -

My current sample size in the 'downstreaming period' is approaching 500 covers at this point, with as many as 13 for some individual voyages. I can show you examples where mails from the same Cunard sailing to the same destination show evidence of downstreaming on one cover but not on the other. I think that is what you might be interested in.


Posted Oct 18, 17 22:47 by David D'Alessandris (davidd)

Mail to Nova Scotia

Bernard - incoming letter by Cunard packet addressed to Pictou, NS was properly rated 1/8½ comprised of 1 shilling sterling packet postage plus 6d sterling inland (distance of 61 - 100 miles) = 1/6 sterling or 1/8½ currency

Posted Oct 18, 17 21:46 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


   The upcoming sale of a Leonardo, missing for neigh onto three centuries is an amazing event.  The description of the expertization at the Christie's web site is quite interesting. I think they do not adequately address the question of whether the painting was ever finished.
    Before WWII, under the Mussolini regime, a major conference was held on Leonardo.  The war intervened and a huge book did not eventuate until the mid 50s.  Numerous paintings were ascribed to the master.  In more recent books, such as the beautiful two volume Taschen, many of those are no longer Leonardos.  And, if you look for the ones no longer accepted but accepted in the earlier volume, they generally look ridiculous.
    The question of pricing is interesting.  If soup cans are worth tens of millions,
then on the basis of importance and rarity, this should be worth at least five billion dollars.  I bet it doesn't bring a tenth of that.

Posted Oct 18, 17 21:10 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Mail to Nova Scotia

David, what is the rate in N.S. on a packet cover to Pictou via British Packet from the US to Halifax in 1845.  I have a 1/8 1/2  rated item I have been too lazy to figure out.

Posted Oct 18, 17 21:07 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

David's question on downstreaming

David -- I gave a talk to a most distinguished audience (USPCS members mainly) and presented four frames at Boxborough in 2014.  Frames also up at Texas soon thereafter and a broader and brief discussion.  The response to the latter was that a certain person would not talk about it anymore, had secret confirming information about the old theory, and would not share it with me!  As far as I know, this is the only person objecting to the theory.
  Basically, 1) the British said they would not do what we wanted, and downstreaming provides the alternative,  2) the towns involved do not conform to the PMG wish list sent to the British, nor would it make sense for some of them to have special handling at that end,  and 3) the timing of the downstreaming with respect to time of arrival conforms to my theory and is way to long to fit the old theory.   I might add that the census in the published articles is statistically impossible.
  The above applies to Boston beginning in late 1843.  There are also examples from New York including the Great Western and the Cunarders.
   Feel free to give me a call some time if you want a fuller exposition.  There is also an aspect of this business that is replete with irony.
   Incidentally, I very very recently got to review original material and a data base on a certain forbidden topic and was most gratified.

Posted Oct 18, 17 19:34 by Alexander Haimann (bastamps)

Relaxing with philately after a long day

My 2-year old daughter enjoys nothing more in the evening than sitting with a stamp auction catalogue while sipping cold milk.

I'm told that's a good sign for the future!


Posted Oct 18, 17 12:21 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

John Tyler Autograph Experts

I have always believed that one of the most important hallmarks of an expert, and an absolute requirement for me to consider a person an expert, is that they know what they don't know. The corollary is to know who to ask when you don't know enough to answer a question without ouside help.

I have handled a few John Tyler free franks, as well as signed documents, over the past years. I have not handled enough Julia Tyler signed letters to make a valid comparison. I trust the Raabs, James Hayes, Catherine Barnes and John Reznikoff each to be able to render a meaninful opinion based on their experience.

I might mention that Mike Gutman emailed me the following a couple days ago: "I contacted Reznikoff four or five years ago and he quoted $5000 to $10000 to do the research and render an opinion, well beyond anything I would want to spend."

(add-on: barring further conclusive evidence provided by a manuscript / autograph expert, I am content to leave this matter alone. I would also be happy to republish an article with additional facts or expert opinions. Beyond that, feel free to opine to each other by email).

Posted Oct 18, 17 12:13 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


6)  Neither I, not Michael, nor anyone else has noted a remarkable indication from Michael's data.  The 1853 cover (pres?) shows a clear tremor, and the 1856 (Julia?( does not.
It is likely the 1853 tremor was irreversible and that in 1856 he was Incapable of the hand of the signature on the 1856 letter.  It would be mighty nice if our specialists could show examples of the presidential hand late in life to confirm or not that the neurological decay was consistent.  If you saw a smooth putative John Adams free frank from his later years, you would know it was no good.
Thus there are two sets of data that surely exist and would be helpful -- the letters and signatures of Julia, and the signatures of the president over time especially beginning in the early 50s.
Michael has indeed presented an analysis.  I believe it is incomplete but probably correct.  But it is an analysis.

Maybe Michael should take the material to a neurologist -- he might be cheaper than the number above.  (Hamilton used a doctor for one of his analyses.)
Later -- Siegel 1129:488 shows tremor absent in 1861.  Odd.  See also Rumsey search -- including including 61:11 -- funny in current context, apparently at least one other has had doubts.  Also to me this looks very un Johnian.  And the letter is Julia.  This is also 1861

Posted Oct 18, 17 11:59 by Scott Trepel (strepel)

Handwriting Analysis

Analyzing handwriting and signatures is challenging, even for an experienced collector, professional or forensic graphologist.

Mike Gutman's article reflected the observations of an amateur and should be read with interest, but certainly not accepted as "analysis," as Bernard suggests. The Raab rebuttal would carry more weight in court as expert testimony, based on credentials, and Mark Robbins also has far more experience. Sometimes it's better to hear three words from an expert than a thousand from a non-expert.

I suggest creating a database of Julia Tyler and John Tyler handwriting and signature examples, then submitting them to a qualified expert for an opinion about the possibility that Julia was franking envelopes with her husband's name. The results would be fascinating.

And, no, I am not volunteering for that project. I have enough on my plate.

Posted Oct 18, 17 11:54 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Challenge, not affront

   I do not recall saying that I affronted you.   I did challenge your approach to a very specific question and a very specific analysis.  "Handling and seeing" is, as you then indicate, not all there is to autograph analysis.     For example, the John vs J issue you raise seems to have little reference here (did he every use John on a free frank in period and if so, would it really matter).
   You raised a specific issue -- what am I looking for.  But what I am mainly looking for is Analysis and have presented clear information in response to your posting.  So far you have not addressed my multiple specific responses to the issue you raised.  I would like to see a Julia letter, including her signature, preferably full signature.
   Handwriting analysis is an area where experience is of great import.  But there are tools of analysis and presentation which meet one of the Einstein criteria ( is it explainable to an intelligent twelve year old).
   I reemphasize that the beauty of Michael' approach is that the reference material and the signature occur on the same page.  Note that the writers could have written the addresses in one hand and used a variant hand for the signature.  I find that, wonderful to relate, this did not happen.

Posted Oct 18, 17 11:50 by David D'Alessandris (davidd)

Ex Cathedra pronunciamentos

Bernard - would you please provide support for your "downstreaming" theory

Posted Oct 18, 17 11:17 by Mark Robbins (funcitypapa4051)


So if the prior message was not meant as an affront to the Raabs I would have to assume that it was meant for me. I have been a serious collector of historical manuscripts for over 3 decades, so although you might think it, I am not exactly shooting from the hip. But if you want to know something about me and my credentials just ask people you might respect more, such as Joe Rubinfine, Catherine Barnes, Reznikoff, or even Raab himself. I'm just telling you what I know, and am not interested in contesting either you or Mr Gutman. But on what basis do you consider yourself qualified to challenge me?

Posted Oct 18, 17 11:03 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Not an affront

My last posting did not refer to the Raabs but was clearly addressed  to a board member.  The earlier one pointed out that an opinion, but no attempt to show error in Mike's analysis had been proferred.  The opinion could well be right, but the presentation was analytically empty.   I would, of course, be very interested to hear how they arrived at their opinion and point by point why Mike's analysis (and mine) do not stand up.
Ex Cathedra pronunciamentos (nice ring to that) don't ordinarily claim immunity from challenge on this board.  I don't see why it should be so in this case,
Note that the clear way to break the analysis is to show that the letters do not correspond to different writers (whoever) in the pattern suggested by Michael.
The general reaction would never have occurred, I hope, in other post historical analyses -- whyso in this one? 

Posted Oct 18, 17 10:39 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


(RCF note: I will leave this post up for now although I consider it an affront to invited experts (Nathan and Steven Raab) by somebody who, like me, has probably never handled a Julia Tyler letter for comparison. I believe there was never a compelling case made Gutman. )

Mark, you refer to but do not present any data.  And no analysis.   Michael has prepared a logical presentation, the power of which goes beyond even his accompanying analysis.  I have not done a full analysis, but what I have seen is strong.
1)  There are some assumptions -- primarily that the individual letters are as ascribed.  Also, that the letters are genuine and were not faked either in period to get free postage or later as a valuable collectible.  And that the ascriptiions -- that is who wrote each address -- are correct.
2)  In each case the inks of frank and address match
3)  In each case the nib (and pressure) match
4)  The overall pattern moves seemlessly from the addresses to the franks.  One good way of perceiving this is to invert the image.  This reduces the focus on the words and emphasizes pattern perception.  Both relaxed and focused attention may then be used.  I find the results impressive in this case.
5)  Detailed analysis of letter formation.  I have not done a thorough examination, but the "r"s fall clearly into two classes that match the Gutman formulation.
This analysis is in conformity with priniciples enunciated by Hamilton in his books.   Rather than vague formulations about variations, I suggest those interested apply and extend the Hamiltion recommendations.  Note that Hamilton emphasizes the importance of 4, whilst not neglecting 5.
One thing, and I do not attach meaning to it, is that I often use two different hands -- one vertical for clarity and a more relaxed running hand for greater ease of expression, and, perhaps more expressive. This related to the odd vertically oriented hand of one of the presidential covers.

Posted Oct 18, 17 10:27 by Ken Stach (kenstach)


Mark R - Amen! Thanks for stating it so well. The Tyler free franks were all done by John Tyler...period. The letters may have been written by another party, and addressed by the letter writer or perhaps another...but the free franks were those of John Tyler. It seems that everyone agrees to this point except Bernard B.

Has the author of the original article that prompted this discussion weighed in? Where is the voice of Mike Gutman on the subject, now that the Raabs have opined?

Posted Oct 18, 17 9:17 by joe kirker (centuryc3)

Corsage for Mrs. Wilson

Bernard---here is the info from My Memoir by Edith Bolling Wilson regarding the May 15, 1918 corsage.


Posted Oct 18, 17 5:30 by Mark Robbins (funcitypapa4051)

A Scintilla of Eviodence?

Bernard: I am not sure what sort of evidence you expected the Raabs to offer. Presidential signatures and manuscript authentication, as you no doubt know, is very much a visual discipline. It is based on handling and seeing many examples over the course of one's study or career. Fortunately for the presidential scholar or collector, these examples are in abundance and in virtually every conceivable format. Presidents, like the rest of us, are creatures of habit. What we sign, how we sign forms a pattern and that pattern can be identified.

Others on this board have made reference to the small variations that occur in the signature of an individual from one example to the next. Accepting that, I would emphasize the other end of the stick, which is the remarkable consistency overall in presidential signatures over time, particularly in heavy signers. Washington and Lincoln for example signed hundreds of thousands of letters, documents etc over their lives. Except for Washingtons period as a surveyor and the formation of his "S" in Washington during the revolution, his signature has been true almost without fail. Same for Lincoln.

The format of the signature is also telling. You don't see any examples signed "Andy" Jackson, "Abe" Lincoln and "Zachary" Taylor (except possibly very early in his career as a soldier) because these presidents never signed their name these ways. Hayes signed Rutherford B Hayes as president occaisionally on an ALS but virtually never on an official document, whereas as commander of the Loyal Legion in the 1890's he always signed in full. There are numerous other examples for all of the presidents.

In the case of John Tyler, the two main forms of his signature were 'J Tyler:" and "John Tyler". Rather than focus on who the recipient of a letter was or whether Julia Tyler had the free frank privilege, I prefer to compare the signatures of Tyler signed as J Tyler to examples for which it is more than highly unlikely that Julia Tyler would have penned:--official presidential documents. For Tyler, signing as J Tyler, that would most often be in the form of Mediterranean Ships Passes and 4 language Sea letters.There are abundant examples of both in the marketplace. The format of his signature on these documents, before the days of autopen, extensive use of secretaries, lithographs or signa signers is quite consistent with the frank examples that started this entire discussion. Interestingly, on these documents where Daniel Webster cosigns as Sec of State, Tyler often signs in full whereas when the cosigner is Calhoun, Upsher, etc. he often signs with the initial.

Posted Oct 17, 17 22:46 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Corsage by airmail

What a marvelous charming piece.  Whatever one thinks about Mrs. W.  That $3.36 in postage is about $85 today.  I wonder about how much the corsage cost.  And who paid the whole thing.

Posted Oct 17, 17 21:51 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


I do not think the Raabs have presented a scintilla of evidence for their theory, however grounded.   Just look at the flow of the "r"s for starters.  Completely different on the Julia covers visa vie the President.  As long as Michael's identifications of the senders, that is, the addressers,  is correct, his theory stands tall.  The franks match the addresses.
Asseveration does not trump analysis.  Let's have some.

Posted Oct 17, 17 19:52 by Leonard Piszkiewicz (lenp99)

Pre-UPU exchanges of sample stamps?

" appears that in 1864 Mexico did send stamps to the Postal Administration in Washington. And London?!? Any idea why they would do that?"

I have no idea.

Posted Oct 17, 17 19:25 by Farley Katz (navalon)

Pre-UPU exchanges of sample stamps?


Thanks for the response. You make a good point; there is nothing in the US/Mexico Postal Convention of 1861 that would explain or justify an exchange of sample stamps. But it appears that in 1864 Mexico did send stamps to the Postal Administration in Washington. And London?!? Any idea why they would do that?


Posted Oct 17, 17 18:43 by joe kirker (centuryc3)

Presidential Wives signatures

Although not an official document, the partial wrapper presented here gives a beautiful example of Edith Bolling Wilson's signature, and the bold lettering and left slanting.

The "Flowers Perishable" in that package were actually a corsage of orchids sent to her at the White House at the inauguration of the US airmail May 15, 1918. In her autobiography (My Memoir) Mrs. Wilson specifically mentions that days events and receipt of the corsage.

Equally interesting,she probably signed the wrapper as a momento and quite probably gave it then to the (at the time) assistant secretary of the Navy under President Wilson--and that was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When Harmers sold the FDR material this item appeared in the February 5, 1946 sale (lot 413). From then until the next auction appearance in 1987 it had remained in a private collection in Australia.

As a matter of record, FDR, President Wilson and Mrs. Wilson all attended the May 15, 1918 inauguration in Washington, DC


Posted Oct 17, 17 17:30 by Chip Gliedman (cgliedman)


I'll echo everything Richard and Alan said about Nick's exhibit. Having seen the exhibit, reviewed the article he wrote detailing the periods of use for each of the devices, hearing his presentation in NY, I am glad that the judges finally recognized what they were looking at.

Nick - congratulations - it's about time.


Posted Oct 17, 17 16:13 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Tyler article

In accordance with Mike Gutman's wishes, I will take down the article (it will be taken down on Wednesday though).

Posted Oct 17, 17 15:57 by Ken Stach (kenstach)


So there we have it from the experts...the J. Tyler free franks were all done by John Tyler, as many of us had suspected.

Posted Oct 17, 17 14:50 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

John Tyler

I just received a reply back from Steven Raab:

"Nathan (Raab) and I have both taken a look. He thinks it’s very unlikely that Tyler’s wife signed for him, and if anything I feel even less inclined to credit the idea than that."

To those who may not know the Raabs, I can recommend them highly. The Raab Collection website is here.

Posted Oct 17, 17 14:08 by Alan Campbell (alan campbell)

Nick Kirke's NYCFM Exhibit

Nick gave a well-researched presentation before the show at an APS cancellation seminar, with a superb hand-out for all attendees. The dominant ethnic group in NYC at the time was Irish immigrants. Nick was puzzled as to why he had found so few NYCFM covers to Ireland. Jamie Gough spoke up, and said that English did not encourage education among the Irish, so that many of the immigrants were functionally illiterate. It would have been great if some of the judges had attended this seminar, to fully understand how important the NYC post office was in handling the bulk of the nation's commercial foreign mail.

I had not seen Nick's exhibit since he made the momentous decision to expand his scope to pre-large Banknote covers, all the way back to 1845. In a fairly short period of time, he was able to find a surprising number of beautiful, exotic and important covers from the earlier period. The consistent power and beauty in this ten-frame exhibit is quite staggering, and the write-up is clear and elegant. I doubt that going forward, any judge will dare again to dismiss this collection as "unimportant marcophilately eye-candy". This is postal history at a very high level of achievement.

Posted Oct 17, 17 13:48 by Mark Robbins (funcitypapa4051)

Presidential signatures

I don't think it is accurate to compare the signing practices of ordinary citizens to that of presidents. Certainly although there are rumors that Susan Clough occasionally signed official documents for Carter and Rose Mary Woods may have signed official documents or appointments for Nixon, over the last 30 years of collecting presidential material I have seen very little to no evidence of wives signing official documents etc. The most prominent president that would have fit this bill would be Woodrow Wilson after his incapacitating stroke. But even here I can't recall seeing anything official signed by Edith Wilson, instead seeing appointments being signed by WW with crayon.

Lincoln an Garfield, although commonly signing with initials on letters and endorsements would always sign official documents and appointments in full.

Posted Oct 17, 17 13:41 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Tyler, Penny Post

My very off the cuff opinion is that each of the covers shown  in Mike's article is franked in the same hand as the person who addressed the letter.
What puzzles me is the penny post marking on a cover Incoming through the mails.  Is that normal?  (Note that it was delivered free by the letter carrier). I think of that marking on local and maybe outgoing letters.  (I think the 9X1  incoming used stamps, but I guess that is a partial analogy if I remember aright(.

Posted Oct 17, 17 11:48 by Richard Drews (bear427)

Sescal Grand


I heard from Kathy Johnson and also read Steve's post. CONGRATULATIONS. I know you were discouraged that some judges didn't appreciate or understand the exceptional amount of research and effort that has gone into your NYCFM exhibit. I wish I could have been there to see the smile on your face. Your enthusiasm for the hobby is infectious. Thanks for being such a positive force in philately.


Posted Oct 17, 17 11:43 by Richard Drews (bear427)

signature variation

Years ago my uncle employed a nurse who also ran his office. For some 20 years she even signed all his checks. Over time his signature changed slightly and the way she signed his name changed slightly. When he finally signed a check that he wanted to send out while she was on vacation, the bank rejected his signature. Once he got things straightened he had a good laugh about it, but for a couple of hours.....


Posted Oct 17, 17 11:20 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

John Tyler

I have sent an email to Catherine Barnes asking if she can bring any (professional) clarity to the question.

(RF add-on) Email to Catherine bounced and I fear she may no longer be in business. Will send query to Steven Raab.

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