Sometimes a mailed cover creates more questions than answers.
The 1894 United States 1¢ black on buff Thomas Jefferson postal card (Scott UX12) shown here is postmarked Kirksville, Mo., Feb. 8, 1901.
The postal card is addressed to a W.J. Templeman in St. Louis, Mo., with a return address for Everett Price in Kirksville.
There is a large blue manuscript “4” in the center of the postal card, and an additional postmark reading “R.P.O. ST. L, VIA ST. L & C. BLUFFS, TR4,” indicating handling by the St. Louis railway post office.
Coupled with those postal markings are two 1895 2¢ deep claret postage due stamps (Scott J39). These are postmarked with a large magenta boxed postal marking that reads, “POSTAGE DUE, FEB. 9, 1901, ST. LOUIS, MO,” with a large numeral “1” at far right within the marking.
Why would a simple 1¢ postal card traveling roughly 200 miles be assessed 4¢ postage due?
The handwritten message on the reverse of the postal card, dated Feb. 8, reveals that Price hoped to serve as an agent representing Templeman in a fruit business.
Dear Sir. Mr. Schuster recommended you as to being one of the Best Fruit Co. I could get. I have been working another Co. here. But if I can get your Co. I would let the other one drop, as I am well acquainted with the business men here I could furnish you nearly all the trade in a short time. As for reference I can refer you to Mr. Schuster, Mr. Vance, A.G. Stary and plenty more if it is necessary. I will close hoping to get the agency.
Yours truly, Everett Price
Kirksville, Box 23
The large handwritten “4” on the front of the card was placed directly in the center, evidently to make sure that 4¢ in postage due stamps were affixed.
Where and when did the large blue manuscript “4” originate on the 1¢ postal card? Was it before or after the St. Louis and Council Bluffs R.P.O. clerk handled the postal card? If it was applied by the clerk, what is the reason?
It might have been marked as a separate item by a postal clerk in the St. Louis post office after the postal card traveled on the R.P.O.
But why would a domestic 1¢ postal card be charged 4¢ postage due?
The St. Louis post office affixed the two 2¢ postage due stamps and postmarked them with the beautiful magenta boxed postage due cancel.
The message on the back of the postal card suggests that Templeman was operating a fruit commission business with agencies in other cities.
Could it be that the incoming mail for one delivery had a total postage due of 4¢? If so, Templeman’s 1¢ card might have been on the top of a stack of mail, and served as a useful item onto which the two 2¢ postage due stamps could be affixed, representing the amount due for more than just the single card.
It seems likely, then, that the 1¢ postal card was an early “top of the stack” application of postage due.
There is a closed spindle hole within the R.P.O. postmark, perhaps indicating that the postal card was set aside for accounting purposes by spindling it and recording it as 4¢ postage due for business records.
I wonder if Price was successful in his effort to be an agent for Templeman, since he used only a 1¢ postal card to mail his proposal?
The postal card has been preserved for more than a century. Perhaps someday the questions it raises will be answered.
Charles A. Fricke, a longtime collector of postal stationery, received the American Philatelic Society’s 1981 Luff award for distinguished philatelic research.
October 09, 2015 02:00 PMLinn’s managing editor Charles Snee reported the recovery of a block of three of the 1845 5¢ New York postmaster’s provisional stamp, once part of a block of 10 that was stolen from the Benjamin K. Miller collection in 1977. 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 ›
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 ›
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 ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman talks about the recovery of a block of three 1845 5¢ New York Postmaster’s Provisional stamps taken in an infamous 1977 stamp heist.
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.
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.