The usual means of identifying a piece of United States mail that in the early part of the 20th century had been exposed to disease and then subjected to a disinfecting process is to see a “disinfected” handstamp. Pictured below is a postcard that has the “disinfected” handstamp placed on it near the Sept. 27, 1909, Mont Alto, Pa., postmark.
There is a variant from Honolulu in the time period of December 1899 to late April 1900. That mail was fumigated for bubonic plague through clipped corners, facilitating exposure to sulphur dioxide fumes for three hours.
The Honolulu-origin covers in that time period are often found with opposite corners clipped, as shown at the bottom of this page on the left. This example has a 5¢ Hawaiian stamp postmarked April 17, 1900, in Honolulu and sent to San Francisco. The upper right and lower left corners were clipped.
A new entry in this derby is shown on the right. This postcard from January 1926 was sent from France to Waterbury, Conn., and it bears the word “Sterilized” on both front and back. The address side is shown. There are bumps in the lower right corner of the card, which might indicate the location where disinfectant was applied.
I asked for background on the term “sterilized” in a recent issue of La Catastrophe, journal of the Wreck and Crash Mail Society.
Only one response was received, from a gentleman in the Netherlands, and he was not encouraging, suggesting that the word was struck in the United States but probably not by the post office.
He noted, “It was not uncommon for individuals or organizations in the States to make up such handstamps presumably to reassure staff or customers.”
He may be right, but I feel the need to throw this out to U.S. Notes readers for a second opinion. If you have any thoughts about the postcard, I would appreciate it if you write to me via postal mail at John Hotchner, Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
blogWhen this cover was listed on eBay in mid-September, it didn't take long for some knowledgeable collectors to recognize this piece of postal history for the gem that it is: an early trans-oceanic survey cover for a Pacific route that included Midway Island, which would become famous as the location of a pivotal 1942 naval battle during World War II. Read More ›
blogThis month marks my fifth anniversary writing the monthly auction report for Linn’s Stamp News. That’s 60 columns, totaling more than 100,000 words (enough for a decent-sized novel), all about our favorite hobby. Read More ›
blogIn mid-September I traveled to London, England, to attend Autumn Stampex, one of two British national stamp shows sponsored by the Philatelic Traders’ Society, Great Britain’s national stamp dealers association. The show took place Sept. 16-19 at the Business Design Centre in Islington (central north London), a comfortable and attractive venue for a stamp show. Read More ›
September 28, 2015 03:30 AMAfter the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, postal workers not only saved the mail, they saved the new post office building. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses current events that relate to the stamp hobby, including the relocation of a stamp show in Sweden due to the Syrian refugee crises, and new stamps honoring Pope Francis and the British monarchy.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke talks about a record fifth win for wildlife artist Joseph Hautman in the federal duck stamp art contest, and see the painting that will appear on next year’s federal duck stamp
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz questions Bolivia’s choice for the design of a 2013 stamp honoring the country’s efforts to protect its migrants in foreign lands.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses the discovery of the upright Jenny Invert pane received in an order from Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Mo., and also reports on the Confederate Stamp Alliance.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.