US Stamps

Were copycat United States postal cards permitted?

Apr 2, 2024, 10 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

In 1886, the United States Post Office Department issued the 1¢ Thomas Jefferson postal card design shown here in Figure 1.

Copying these early postal cards did not seem to bother anyone in the Post Office Department.

In fact, one of the two knockoffs featured in this column was done by the Letter Carriers Mutual Benefit Association of Taunton, Mass., in 1892.

As can be seen from the front and back in Figure 2, this card promotes the association’s annual concert and ball, and offers tickets at a mere $1 (which equates to about $34 of purchasing power today.)

Another example I found recently is equally interesting. Shown in Figure 3, this card is dated by an ersatz cancel purporting to be from Cleveland, Ohio, in 1891.

Instead of Jefferson, the Figure 3 card features a different person in his spot. He is identified as “W.A. Mack, Inventor” below the portrait.

Also, instead of “United States” above the portrait, the card reads “Rotary Shuttle.”

The internet tells me that William A. Mack founded his sewing machine company in 1861 in Norwalk, Ohio. In 1863, he obtained a U.S. patent for the vibrating shuttle sewing machine, which he manufactured and marketed.

To read the rest of this column, subscribe to Linn’s Stamp News.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter