US Stamps

Inside Linn’s: The story behind a snake dancer fancy cancel

Jul 27, 2023, 11 AM
In the Aug. 14 issue of Linn’s Stamp News, The Odd Lot columnist Wayne Youngblood reveals the origins of a fancy cancel purporting to show an American Indian snake dancer.

By Charles Snee

The Aug. 14 issue of Linn’s Stamp News just landed on the presses and goes in the mail to subscribers Monday, July 31. And if you subscribe to Linn’s digital edition, you’re at the head of the line with early access Saturday, July 29. While you wait for your issue to arrive in your mailbox, enjoy these three quick glimpses of exclusive content available only to subscribers.

The story behind a snake dancer fancy cancel

Illustrated here is a United States 1926 2¢ George Washington stamp (Scott 634) with a rather unusual fancy cancel. As Wayne Youngblood explains in The Odd Lot, the socked-on-the-nose marking appears to depict an American Indian snake dancer. That cancel originated in Prescott, Ariz., in 1928 and, according to a reputable reference work about U.S. 20th-century fancy cancels, was used between Sept. 24, 1928, and Jan. 6, 1929. “For years, I simply assumed that this fairly scarce cancel (about 200 were estimated to have been created) depicted a Hopi snake dancer, a traditional figure in Arizona history,” Youngblood writes. His research yielded a fascinating history you won’t want to miss.

1949-63 3¢ minimum postage charge on odd-size third-class mail

In the penultimate installment of Modern U.S. Mail, Tony Wawrukiewicz (who died July 11) methodically reviews the 3¢ minimum postage that applied to odd-size third-class matter from Jan. 21, 1949, until Jan. 6, 1963. According to Wawrukiewicz, “This minimum postage charge of 3¢ required by law on third-class matter of such form or size as to prevent ready facing, tying and handling in the mails applied to bulk mailings of third-class matter as well as regular matter of the third class.” As an example, he illustrates a tiny cover that was assessed postage due of 1¢ when it reached its destination. “Because the letter was too small and mailed after Jan. 21, 1949, the 3¢ minimum postage was required, which necessitated collecting 1¢ postage due,” he explains. A handstamp on the cover clearly states why postage was due. You’ll have to look closely to see what it says.

Kitchen Table Philately: 56 stamps from 56 countries

In each weekly issue of Linn’s, either E. Rawolik VI or E. Rawolik VII dissects the contents of a stamp mixture offered to collectors. E. Rawolik is a pseudonym that is also the word “kiloware” (a stamp mixture) spelled backward. This week, E. Rawolik VI sifts through a 56-stamp sample from a $10 assortment of 200 worldwide stamps. “I used a modified method for selecting the stamps,” Rawolik writes. “When counting, I noticed stamps from many different nations. To emphasize the wide variety, I chose no more than one stamp from each country, and there were countries left over after I selected the 56 stamps.” Enjoy the full review in this week’s issue of Linn’s.

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