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Damaged Cover with Scott #814 and Post Office Seals.

The patient appears to be a legal size envelope franked with a Scott #814 canceled with a Durham NH CDC dated Dec 8, 5pm, 1956 that had been damaged in transit and repaired with numerous postal seals. There are three strikes in purple of the “DAMAGED IN HANDLING / IN THE POSTAL SERVICE” auxiliary marking. There are no other marks on the back of the cover.

The objectives of this analysis are:

  1. Why the 9c stamp was used to frank this cover?
  2. What is the Scott number of the postal seals?
  3. What is the range of dates the auxiliary marking was used? 

Why the 9c stamp was used to frank this cover? From July 6, 1932 to August 1, 1958 the domestic first class rate was 3c per ounce. 9c paid triple the first class rate for mail weighing more than 2 ounces up to 3 ounces. There is a typed note in the lower left that reads “Christmas Appeal” and given the destination of Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center there is a real possibility that the contents of this cover was made up of multiple sheets of paper that gave a final weight that was greater than 2 ounces but no more than 3 ounces. Unfortunately the original contents are long gone so it’ll never be known exactly what the final weight was.

What is the Scott number of the postal seals? Given the cancel date of Dec 8, 1956 the latest seal that can be considered is Scot #OX39 issued around 1950. The seals on the patient cover are perforated with round holes thus eliminating the possibility that the seals are #OX38 or #OX39 which are perforated with hyphen holes.


This image shows an OX39 with hyphen hole perforations.

The perforations of the seals on the patient cover gauge out at 12.02 for the horizontal and 11.83 for the vertical.


Vertical perforations overlaid on Instanta gauge.


Horizontal perforations overlaid on Instanta gauge.

The color of the seal’s paper is a cream color, given the color and the perforation gauge the one possible candidate Scott number for the seals used on the patient cover is #OX28, perforated 12, issued around 1946.

The 2012 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers states on page 885 that in order to qualify as being “on cover” the seal(s) “must be tied or exhibit some auxiliary marking or docking”. There are two places on the patient cover where the seals are tied be either a cancel or auxiliary marking.


The cancel ties the vertically applied strip if three.

This tells me that the cover was damaged while it was in the custody of the Durham post office, repaired and then canceled. None of the seals have any markings as to who did the repair.


One of the auxiliary marking ties the partial seal attached to the whole single at right.

By extension these two tied seals also tie any other seal that are applied under them with the exception of one seal that is applied over “Mountain Rehabilitation”.  There are a total of thirteen seals on the cover.

What is the range of dates the auxiliary marking was used? The auxiliary markings on the cover are three strikes in purple of the “DAMAGED IN HANDLING / IN THE POSTAL SERVICE” straight line auxiliary marking. According to the Auxiliary Marking Club website has a listing for this marking with an earliest known use of March 26, 1964 from New York, NY on mail that was damaged in a Philadelphia PA train wreck on 3/27 with accompanying newspaper article. I’ve sent off an email to one of the club members in hopes of getting an opinion on the piece.

Update: I got a reply back from a member of the Auxiliary Marking Club about my questions I had about the cover.  Here's what he had to say:

Quite an interesting piece. I can’t say that I have seen a cover with so many seals used as tape. The damaged marking is very typical of the period. Value of probably $10 or so.

I then asked about the possibility that the auxillery markings on the cover are an earliest known use and the reply was:

Hi again, Mike. Yes, these were in use well before the EKU date posted, but that is the earliest known to members and may indeed be updated again on the web site.

Conclusion: this triple weight legal size cover was damaged in the possession of the Durham NH post office and repaired with OX28 seals and struck three times with a “DAMAGED IN HANDLING / IN THE POSTAL SERVICE” straight line auxiliary marking. It is unknown at this time if the auxiliary marking represents a true earliest known use.

As always comments and suggestions are always welcome.

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