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 email@example.com.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
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.