Sunday, August 28, 2016

New Find: R155 with St. Louis, Keokuk, and Northwestern Railroad Printed Cancel

Mike Morrissey has sent a scan of a Fullerton unlisted railroad item: an R155 with a St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern Railroad cancel. 

ST. L., K. & N. W.
R. R.

St. L., K. & N. W. R. R. cancels have only previously been known on R163s, both roulette and H. H.  Frank Sente figures the stamps were used on checks.  I would guess this likely, but if so, where are other examples, either on or off document?

If you know or possess an example of this cancel on an R155, please report it or send a scan of the stamp to:  Thanks!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Arthur A. Housman & Company Stock Memorandum of Sale

David Thompson sends this scan of an AA Housman memorandum of sale.  According to the memorandum, the firm sold to brokers Ames & Miller 400 shares of a firm that I can't identify.  With the "y" at the end of the name, I can guess we have the sale of railway shares.   I'm just not sure which one.

Mr. Housman was J.P. Morgan's primary broker.  The memorandum was likely prepared in January 1990, not 1899 as indicated by the date.  By 1/3/99, the hyphen hole perforations on these stamps were not in use.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wells Fargo & Company Express Shipper's Forwarding Receipt Book

David Thompson sent scans of a 1900 Wells Fargo shipper's receipt book.  Six years ago a page from a similar receipt book was posted on this site.  But in this example, David sent scans of a complete book that he has in his possession.  Of greatest interest is the instruction page, which include guidance on where to place the revenue stamps.

R163s are found in the book in addition to a few 1cent postage stamps, presumably used when the IR stamps were unavailable. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Degraded Battleship

Several years ago I wrote several posts about the curse of grading on the hobby of stamp collecting.  Those posts can be found here. 

 R163 "E Graded Superb 100"
Currently Buy It Now on Ebay for $100

"eGraded" as Superb 100 by eGrade, certificate 370.  Go out and buy this one right away.  And make sure you pay double because the price is so dang low -- hit "Make Offer" and enter 200 bucks you schmuck.

Geez.  I figured we wouldn't see much grading with revenue stamps, especially with a stamp that is worth about a tenth of a cent, like an R163 roulette.  At least this humble stamp has all sorts of cool incarnations and can be very collectible, given a range of cancels and uses on piece.  But this stamp is a prime example of taking that one in a couple of hundred stamps out of a pile of R163s and assigning to it a ridiculous description and price.  Like I wrote years ago, this stamp has its high value because of the grade and certificate, not because of its inherent worth as a well centered stamp.  The cert is rare.  Not the stamp.  This is clearly a case of a dealer fishing for suckers.  Are you one?

Friday, April 1, 2016

APRL Friend of Other Libraries program

We hear that the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) will soon be parting with many of its books. Decisions have been made at the highest levels to give those books to other libraries, under a new program known as the APRL Friend of Other Libraries program.  Beginning in the third quarter of 2016, the books on the bottom two shelves throughout the library will be boxed up and shipped off to other interested libraries. 

While this is shocking and disturbing news, the underlying story is known to all of us in the hobby.  As stamp collecting has declined in popularity, so has the membership of The American Philatelic Society and the APRL.  Book borrowing has declined, and with the expense of maintaining such a vast and lightly used collection, the APS and APRL have decided to "right size" the library. 

As understood by 1898 Revenues, factors contributing to this decision include:

  • Flooding:  The APRL is on the bank of a creek with an occasional tendency to flood.  By parting with all of the books on the two lowest shelves throughout the library, the remaining books will be an additional 3 feet above potential flood waters compared to present.
  • Orthopedic Injuries:  As APS members continue to increase in average age, it is much easier for our members to reach the books on the middle and upper shelves without having to strain to access the lower shelves.  A recent spike in library users having back surgery has attracted the attention of epidemiologists looking for answers as to why stamp collectors in Bellefonte have made the town an epicenter for orthopedic injuries.  The Friend of other Libraries program will help the APRL dodge this unwanted attention. 
  • Cost Effectivenss:  Simply put, the library just isn't very busy anymore.  The cost of maintaining the collection is exceeding revenues, and choices have had to be made.  By eliminating the bottom two shelves of books, staff time, flood insurance, and library user injury insurance premiums will decline, helping the APRL produce a balanced budget.
Libraries benefitting from this new program will receive books with this label inside:

Interested libraries and all others concerned may inquire with this correspondent at

The Early Days of the American Revenue Association

The American Revenue Association is one of the oldest collector's organizations in philately, as is its flagship journal, The American Revenuer.  In 1898, the Association made its first bond issue to pay for expansion of its offices in order to cope with rapidly expanding demand for the The American Revenuer.  Today at 1898 Revenues we present an exciting find of a tax stamp from that bond, with the prominent cancel, T. A. R.

T. A. R.
Oct 28.

John Langlois scan

Often known as TAR to organization members, The American Revenuer is the journal published by The American Revenue Association.  The stamp above was undoubtedly used on an 1898 bond floated by the The ARA's bank to finance early capital improvements to the extensive printing works of the Association.

Two summers ago, at a meeting of the American Revenue Association in Minnesota, I asked some of the members who were there at the association's beginning what it was like at the ARA during those heady times of bond floats and construction projects:

Herman Ivester:  "I didn't have much to do with the ARA back then.  I was mostly interested in tracking down the St. Louis provisionals, working everyday to stay a step ahead of Charlie Nast.  Many thanks to Bob Hohertz for his help.  Bob gave himself the internet handle rdhinstl from his days in St. Louis back then.  He helped track down a few of the rarities with me.  

Ron Lesher:  "I was teaching physics in those days, but it was a more basic job in 1898.  Marie and Pierre (Curie) only discovered radium that year; the curriculum was more Isaac Newton than Albert Einstein.  I taught a basic revenue stamp collecting course for the ARA in 1899, and had hundreds attend every lecture.  

Richard Friedberg:  "I was the Mayor of Meadville when the ARA moved its headquarters into an old fireworks factory in town.  The city was grateful for the move.  The ARA put an old property to use that was derelict.  The bond used to finance the purchase of the building to house the new TAR printing presses used the 50c documentary battleship tax stamp.  This is the first of these stamps I've seen in years.  Its a shame it is off-document, but I'm still prepared to offer Langlois $75,000 for the stamp.

Bob Hohertz:  "I was a young member of the ARA back then.  A bunch of the older guys (including Mort Joyce) put me up to a stunt sometime in 1903 where they distracted the agents in the Pere Marquette ticket office in Detroit while I sneaked out with a box of cancelled parlor car tickets.  It was a youthful indiscretion, but look what was preserved for philately!...It didn't occur to me in 1898 that I would have become an actuary.  If I had known that me and Herman and Ron and all the rest of us would live as long has we have, I don't think I would have had the confidence to be an actuary -- Sheppard Homans' table doesn't seem to apply to any of us.  I think all of my employers would have gone bankrupt.

Frank Sente:  "Nassau Street in New York was the center of American philately in those days.  Unfortunately, it was also the center of philatelic fraud.  I ran a special program for the ARA to monitor and report this fraud.  Now that we've entered the internet and Ebay age, the bad guys are more technically sophisticated, but in 1898, preventing fraud was still a major challenge.

Mike Mahler:  "I was an active member of the ARA in those days.  But it would be years before I would become involved with TAR, as I was working day and night helping to put together what we call today The Boston Book.  The plan was to have the book come out in '98 but we missed.  It went to press in 1899.  Thanks to Ken Trettin for all the work he had done for years on the book before I came in to help out starting in '97.  Thanks to the new presses in the Meadville facility, we were able to produce an initial run of 10,000 copies.  They sold out in days and we had to go to a second printing.

David Thompson:  In 1898, The Air Force was limited to a couple of squadrons of balloons, but we used them for observation over San Juan Hill during Roosevelt's charge.  When I returned to the States in '99 I started collecting the battleship series, and I've also been a member of The American Revenue Association ever since. 

Eric Jackson:  "This stamp with the T. A. R. cancel is one of the rarest in revenue philately.  I'm prepared to offer John six figures for this stamp.  John, where should I mail the check?"

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Industrial Cancels: Union Foundry and Machine Company

JUL      7     1898
&   MCH.  CO.

Langlois scan

From Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Manufacturing and Mercantile Resources Of The Lehigh Valley, 1881:

These works, located at the corner of Front and Pine streets were established about thirty-years ago and in 1869 were purchased by a company, and have since been kept in operation by them. They are situated on Front street, at the corner of Pine, and are convenient to the Central Railroad or Lehigh Canal. The works occupy a considerable plot of ground, upon which are large and necessary building, together with ample yard room, the whole being supplied with much new and improved machinery fur producing the various specialties of manufacture. The Company are particularly engaged in manufacturing all kinds of rolling mill work, controlling in this branch of its work a large business from the many mills located in the Valley, possessing very superior facilities, they are enabled to compete in this work with any concern in the Valley; and their productions are known over a wide extent of country. All the buildings, including machine shop, foundry, blacksmith shop, pattern building, etc., are substantially erected, the whole forming an active centre of industry. In the various departments of the works there are employed thirty hands, and a twenty-horse power engine furnishes the motive power for running the machinery, much of which ingenious and particularly adapted for the specialty of work for which it is employed.

The Company is composed of several prominent gentlemen, the works being under the direct control of Mr. David Williams, the managing partner, who is thoroughly conversant with the business. The Union Foundry and Machine Company have a well earned reputation for doing first-class, work and are rapidly building up a large trade. They exercise an important influence in the prosperity of the town.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


If its not one thing its another conspiring to keep me from writing posts for this website.  This week finds your correspondent in Liberia.  I am a part of the US Agency for International Development's Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART, detailed to Liberia to support the US Government's response to the ebola epidemic.

In the 1990s, in what was essentially a different career life for me, I was an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization in Liberia.  The country was in the middle of its civil war, and the health situation in Liberia was a boggling and complex emergency.  I gave up that work when I was asked to run The Carter Center office in Liberia.  Former President Carter had involved himself with the war's belligerents to help mediate and resolve the conflict, and I ran the Carter Center's front line office in Liberia for two years.

Back to the present.  In August the capital city Monrovia was a hot zone.  Dead bodies could be found on the streets and the public had become so fearful that public places were abandoned and the streets were quiet.  Medical centers were overwhelmed and patients were turned away.  Today Monrovia is different.  The epidemic has cooled.  There are empty beds in the new Ebola Treatments Units.  Fewer patients are showing up each day.

But ebola remains, and patients are coming in, just not in the August numbers.  In contrast to the quiet city of August, Monrovia in November has come back to life.  Public spaces are lively and many can be found in the streets.

While no one is yet certain why there is a trough in the number of ebola patients, it may be because of the healthy dose of fear that drove everybody inside and to keep away from each other.  But today, knowing that some people are still carrying the virus in town and in the rural areas, rapid human to human transmission can be reignited.  And the life in the streets that I saw today may signal that we could have a new spike of cases in the coming weeks, simply due to increased opportunity for human to human transmission of the virus.

I will be here for several weeks on this trip and may, if time allows, put up another revenue post.  But for now I am immersed in the work of renewing relationships with Liberian colleagues and friends on the front lines of the ebola epidemic.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Colorado Springs Bankers and Brokers: William P. Bonbright & Company

Advertisement in 1900 edition of The Giles City Directory of Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Bonbrights were a prosperous east coast family.  William P. created an international banking and broking firm with offices in New York, London, and Colorado Springs.  The firm would specialize in capitalizing energy projects.


David Thompson scan

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Documentary Printed Cancels: Provident Savings Life Update

Red and black Provident Savings Life cancels on 1898 series revenue stamps.  All are printed cancels except for the bottom right stamp, which displays a handstamp cancel.  Five different documentary values are shown here with Provident Savings Life printed cancels.  Are there more?

Provident Savings Life cancels have featured on this website over the years.  New examples continue to emerge and expand the list of the use of printed cancels on 1898 documentary revenue stamps. The standard reference for documentary printed cancels, the Fullerton List, only covers documentary printed cancels by railroads and express companies.  Provident Savings Life and Assurance Company is the only known insurance company to use printed cancels.

In addition to the stamps seen above that are found in my collection, David Thompson sent in a scan of the R170 pair below:

R170 Pair
David Thompson scan

Several years ago I had an email discussion with Frank Sente regarding the status of these cancels and whether they were printed are not.  This post from 2010 includes some of that discussion, and the argument was made then that these cancels were printed.  The above pair of stamps does a fine job of presenting proof of their status as having been printed, which the orientation and the precision, placement and clarity of the cancels makes clear.  One hitch though is that the separation between the cancels is not proportional to the stamp dimensions.  The cancel on the right stamp above is centered to the left relative the the stamp on the right.

Below are larger versions of the stamps shown above.  I've included three copies of R170 in the stamps above because of color issues with the cancels.  There are two red and one black, and between the reds, there is a clear color difference.

R170 roulette, orange-red printed cancel

R170 roulette, red printed cancel

R170 roulette, black printed cancel

R172 roulette, black printed cancel.   

This stamp has been featured in the stamp montage at the top of this website for years.

R173p hyphen-hole, red printed cancel

R174p hyphen-hole, red printed cancel

R175 black printed cancel

R175 roulette black handstamp cancel

All of the examples of Provident Savings Life printed cancels that I have seen with a date have shown a 1900 year date.  Where are other years of the 1898 series?  Even if the firm did not begin printing cancels until 1900, shouldn't there be 1901 examples?  Or did they simply run out and chose to print no more, necessitating the production of the handstamp illustrated immediately above?

A question I have is why these cancels, now shown on many documentary values, are orphans?  By orphans I mean their apparent neglect by established collectors and catalogs.  Fullerton and others raised the status of the documentary railroad and express printed cancels; while the proprietary printed cancels have always had a special place in the revenue hobby.  Where have these stamps and their cancels been?  Have they just been ignored?  Does anyone know of an old philatelic article on the subject or a collector that may have had a small collection of these?

The small collection above began with the R170, and has been pieced together over several years through multiple purchases and one gift from Bob Hohertz.

I am always looking for new Provident cancels like these, on new stamp values or with new colors.  If you have examples, please write

Saturday, October 4, 2014

John Alexander Dowie's Zion Lace Industries

John Alexander Dowie
In his robes as "Elijah the Restorer" c. 1904

During my years in the early 80s at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, the town of Zion, Illinois, occasionally came to my attention, as it was north of Evanston just before the Wisconsin state line.  But I never gave the town much thought, except that a favorite pop band of mine, Shoes, was based in Zion.

But then a curious 1898 revenue item came my way this past month that brought Zion, Illinois to my considered attention and led me to research the origin of Zion Lace Industries, the town of Zion, and its Christian theocrat and faith healer founder, John Alexander Dowie.

The curious item 1898 item is the interest coupon below:

Zion Lace Industries interest coupon - 12th coupon, from certificate 502, with the signature of John Alex. Dowie at the bottom, who was, according to the coupon, sole proprietor of Zion Lace Industries All land in Zion, Illinois, and Zion City Bank was wholly owned by John Alexander Dowie.

Reverse side of the coupon, with a 2ct documentary stamp to pay the promissory tax.  Stamp cancelled: 

FEB  15  1901

Interest was paid semi-annually, in January and July, so coupon 12 was year 6 from the certificate's issue date.  John Alexander Dowie's newspaper, The Coming City, advertised (see at left) the sale of the preferred share certificates represented by this coupon in December 12, 1900.

$400,000 worth of $100 certs were available, so the above coupon came from certificate 502 out of a total of 4000.  Dowie advertised that he would pay increasing amounts of interest over time, yet this coupon and subsequent coupons in my possession indicate he or Zion Lace Industries only paid 6% interest per year as all the semi-annual coupons were exchanged for $3.  There may have been a supplementary coupon that paid what the advertisement to the left calls "contingent" interest, but the semi-annual coupons do not provide an indication that the contingent interest was paid.

Dowie's private newspaper advertised a preferred stock issued by the Dowie owned Zion Lace Industries, sold by the Dowie owned Zion City Bank.

Dowie was an extraordinary figure in American history and American Christian Evangelism.  When he died in 1907, he had left behind a new city, collapsing under debt, governed under theocratic laws, and totally created and built by Dowie and his followers.

Zion City's lots were first made available to the public in mid-1901, while Dowie and his staff busied with the creation of the skeletal elements of a new city, including laws, streets and public utilities.  Ultimately, Dowie had a stroke in 1905 when he was 58 years old, and never fully recovered before his death in 1907.  Because of the dire financial circumstances of the city of Zion, Dowie's managers seized control of the enterprise after his stroke and worked to salvage the viability of the city.

But before Dowie became seized with creating a new Christian city in northern Illinois, he had led a life as a Christian faith healer and businessman with a giant vision and ego, going so far as to consider himself the second coming of Elijah.

Dowie was born in Scotland, moved to Australia with his parents, where he became seized with his evangelical and faith healing passion before moving to the United States.  He made a major name for himself in the US by setting up operations across from the entrance to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, where he conducted faith healing services and preached sermons daily.

Through his Christian Catholic Church and his publications like Leaves of Healing, a weekly paper, he criticized doctors, pharmacists, and Freemasons.  He espoused flat-earth theory, while preaching that Anglo-Saxons were a lost tribe of Israel, opining that Saxons are Isaac's sons.  He pointed out the inevitable since "Isaac's sons" and "I-sax-sons" are homonyms.  

For Dowie, Zion Lace Industries was an important business to try to keep Zion City solvent.  His project was largely completed, though Zion's insolvency meant that the lace plant was sold to Marshall Field & Company in September 1907, shortly after his death.

Dowie's thinking behend the lace plant can be found in the The Coming City, December 12, 1900, John Alexander Dowie, Editor and Publisher:

The Importance of Zion Lace Industries.

God is giving His people Zion Lace Industries in a most wonderful way.  That is the first and greatest argument for its importance.

The story cannot all be told now, and there is much of it which can never be told.

Nevertheless, many things have been and will yet be recorded which will show how marvelously God has led, all the way along.

The working out of God’s plan for Zion Lace Industries began years before the General Overseer came to America; indeed, it is not for man to say how far back in history the beginning of that work may lie.

God’s direct guidance, however, can be traced back many years.

Every step of the way, in recent years, shows with remarkable clearness the evidences of Divine intervention for Zion’s sake.

How God raised up and trained the man Samuel Stevenson and sent the Little White Dove to bring him and his brothers into Zion with all their skill, artistic ability, executive force and intimate knowledge of the art of lacemaking has already been told.

It was God who directed in the purchase of the factory at Beeston, Notts, England, for Zion Lace Industries, and brought about so wonderfully all the various transactions necessary, smoothing out all difficulties.

God’s power was manifested in giving great success in the ordering and purchasing of just the machinery needed for the industries.

God gave Deacon Stevenson and the General Overseer the right men to bring to America to teach Zion workers the art of lacemaking.

He gave victory over all the foes who tried to prevent in this work.

God gave His servant, Attorney Samuel W. Packard, great wisdom and skill, so that he was enabled to make an argument which is now famous in the two hemispheres, and to win a glorious victory over all the Labor Union and other enemies, open and secret, who attempted to prevent these Lace Experts from landing in America.

God gave this same attorney such wisdom the drafting of the Articles of Agreement between Zion Lace Industries and the shareholders that legal experts have declared it to be a marvel as a legal document.  “It gives the shareholders,” say the lawyers, “all the advantages of a corporation and a partnership, with none  of the disadvantages of either.

Another grand argument for the importance of Zion Lace Industries to Zion and to the extension of the Kingdom of God, is the fierce and determined fight which the Devil and all his forces is making against their establishment.

With a curious mixture of reckless daring, diabolical cunning and helpless fury, he has attempted to block Zion’s every move in the matter.


Dowie and his followers tried to escape the lawlessness and sin of American society by establishing a utopia, Zion City, in northern Illinois, with Dowie as "general overseer." In the first issue of his paper The Coming City (June 27, 1900), he wrote: "Zion City will be built by Theocrats. It will be run by Theocrats. It will aim to overthrow Democracy, and establish Theocracy over all the earth, and sea, and in deepest hell, even as God rules in highest heaven."

As of 2014, Zion City is a secularly governed city.  Democracy was not overthrown, and the US Constitution remains the law of the United States.


Interest coupon #22 front and back from July 1911; interest payment 6%:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Documentary Printed Cancels: Is the C.E.C. Found on Half Cent Gray Documentaries a Charles E. Cornell Printed Cancel?

Yesterday I posted stamps canceled by Dr. Fahrney & Son, a proprietary medicine company based in Maryland.  Dr. Fahrney used printed cancels on the 5/8c proprietary and 1/2c documentaries.  Today is presented Charles E. Cornell, who used printed cancels on the 5/8c proprietary, and, if the initials are any indication, on the 1/2c documentary as well.  Additional confirmation is needed for the 1/2c documentaries, as all we have is a match with the initials, C.E.C., though not the type font.  Courtesy of Frank Sente, we have multiple examples of the 1/2c documentary.

Based in New York, Charles E. Cornell made a variety of soaps and skin products.  

C.  E.  C.
August,   1899

Langlois scan, ex-Tolman

Below are three examples of 1/2c documentaries with August 6 1900 dates and C. E. C. printed cancels.  Are these by Charles E. Cornell?:

C.  E.  C.
Aug.  6th  1900

Langlois scan

C.  E.  C.
Aug.  6th  1900

Sente scan

C.  E.  C.
Aug  6th  1900

Sente scan

Sometime ago, Frank Sente sent the stamp above with an off-center C.E.C. cancel that includes perpendicular to the stamp printed letters at the upper right.  He offered the following comments in an email:  

"I have a gray 1/2 cent documentary with what I believe is a printed cancel that also bears some extraneous printing on it. I always figured it had been placed on the document BEFORE it was printed and picked up some of the printing either because it wasn't properly placed on the document to begin with, or the printing went a bit askew.  Look at the upper right corner of the right of the R162, 1/2 cent just above. See the extraneous lettering? Another stamp with presumably printed C. E. C.cancel is provided for comparison. Puzzling n'est-ce pas??

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Documentary Printed Cancels: Dr. Fahrney & Son

Dr Fahrney's shop window display
Library of Congress 

Dr. Fahrney, like Mrs. Winslow, liked to make medicine from morphine.  One of the pusher's, excuse me, Doctor's, favorite active ingredients was morphine.  And the company put it in products like Dr. Fahrney's teething syrup.  Nothing like a 2 year old junkie.  The 1898 tax period became a peak period for these companies, just before the crash induced by the progressive era and pure food and drug laws.

We are now left with the remnants of these companies.  Bottle collectors that contained these nostrums stay busy with Dr. Fahrney & Son's material.  And revenue collectors the same.  In the case we have today, Frank Sente and Ron Lesher sent in scans of Dr. Fahrney cancels.  The 5/8 cent stamp immediately below would be expected: a proprietary stamp that was used on a proprietary medicine bottle.  But below the proprietary stamp is Ron Lesher's find of a 1/2 cent documentary stamp with a similar Dr. Fahrney cancel.

Dr. Fahrney & Son
2 23 1899.
Hagerstown,  Md.

Sente scan

Dr. Fahrney & Son
8  9  1900
Hagerstown,  Md.

Lesher scan

Why did Dr. Fahrney produce printed cancels on 1/2c documentaries?  One theory is that they might have been used on combination with 1/8c proprietary stamps to produce a 5/8 cent total.  Whatever the case, we now have another documentary printed cancel, and one that joins the series that includes stamps canceled by proprietary medicine companies.  

In the coming day, there will be a post on Charles E. Cornell, who also used printed cancels on 5/8 cent stamps, and appears to have done the same on 1/2 cent documentaries.

Thanks to Frank and Ron for sending these scans several years ago.  I finally pulled them out of the warehouse after matching the C.E.C. proprietary and documentary cancels for Charles Cornell, and I figure we might have a pattern of some kind.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Industrial Cancels: Standard Varnish Works

Standard Varnish Works was establish on Staten Island, New York.  David Thompson sent a scan of the 2 cent documentary below with a Standard Varnish cancel:

N.  Y.

 From the website of the New York City Land Preservation Commission:


The Standard Varnish Works factory is a rare surviving example of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century industrial history of Staten Island. The Standard Varnish Works Company purchased property along the Elm Park waterfront on both sides of Richmond Terrace in 1892-93 and, shortly after, constructed a factory complex and worker housing, moving its factory operations from Long Island. The office building, which fronts Richmond Terrace, is an example of the American round-arch factory style and also incorporates details of late nineteenth century German factory design. The trademarks of nineteenth century factory design which still define this building today, are the prominent tower and corbelled brick ornament, which create interest through utilitarian decorative details. The projecting brick pilasters, also common factory features, are decorative as well as functional, adding texture to the fa├žade and providing additional support for the interior framing. The buildings lining the Richmond Terrace streetwall escaped damage in a “spectacular” fire that caused approximately $200,000 worth of damage to the site in 1900, destroying the dock, gutting storage buildings and exploding several chemical storage tanks.

Some of the success of the company can be attributed to an advantage of the Elm Park site, the close proximity to two modes of transportation, water via the factory’s own dock on the Kill Van Kull and rail via the station located just blocks away. At one time, Standard Varnish Works was one of the largest manufacturers of varnish and enamel in the world, with a seven-acre, forty-five building Staten Island plant, as well as offices or factories in Chicago, Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Barcelona and Linden, NJ. In 1926, the company merged with Toch Brothers Inc, operating under the name Standard-Toch Chemical Company Inc. In 1961, Montgomery Ward & Co. mail order purchased the firm and managed it as a subsidiary under the name Standard T Chemicals.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chicago Livestock Commission Company

Column advertisement, San Antonio Daily Express May 25, 1899


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Steamship Company Cancels: The White Star Line

The American, Great Lakes-bound White Star Line Steamer Tashmoo

APR  16  1902

David Thompson scan

Stamp almost certainly used for passage on the Tashmoo for a ticket of $30 or less.

Steamer Tashmoo pulling away from the wharf

From Midwest Boat and Recreation, by Dale Blanshan. January 2014:

In 1912, the British White Star Line ruled the oceans with the great Titanic.  At the same time, another White Star Line -- this one American -- ruled the Great Lakes with the elegant Tashmoo.  The Titanic's reign lasted for four days.  The Tashmoo sailed for 36 years.

By the end of the nineteenth century, steamship lines on the Great Lakes were taking on another kind of passenger, the excursion boater.  Some travelers wanted luxurious transportation to the resorts that dotted the shores of the Great Lakes.  For others, the ships themselves were the resorts.

To meet that demand, the White Star Line commissioned the Tashmoo.  Launched in December of 1899 at Wyandotte, Michigan, the Tashmoo was 308 feet long and 37 feet abeam, with a gross tonnage of 1,344.

She was fitted with every luxury.  Two grand pianos graced her main salon, and expensive carpeting and polished mahogany furnished her decks.  Six hundred windows afforded passengers unobstructed views of the shore, earning the Tashmoo the nickname "The Glass Hack."

Passengers could picnic on the decks for lunch, watch the shoreline lazily pass in the afternoon, dine in "New York style" restaurants for dinner, and dance to a live band in the evening.

On June 11, 1900, the Tashmoo took on its first customers.  Within three months, she took on her first major challenge.

Races between rival steamships were exciting events.  In September of 1900, a ship called the City of Chicago won such a race, whereupon a Detroit newspaper published an article naming ten boats that it believed to be faster than the City of Chicago.

The Tashmoo was not on the list, prompting the president of the White Star Line to issue his own challenge, offering $1,000 to any freshwater ship that beat the Tashmoo.  The owners of the City of Erie accepted the challenge.

The race was to be 94 miles in length, from Cleveland, Ohio, to Erie, Pennsylvania.  Boats filled the Cleveland harbor, and spectators lined the shore. A cannon boomed, and the race was on!

The City of Erie jumped out to an early lead, but the Tashmoo caught and passed her.  Mechanical and steering problems put the Tashmoo behind again.

However, by the time the finish line was in sight, she was closing quickly.

Nonetheless, the gap was too great.  The Tashmoo finished 45 seconds behind.

Another great moment for the Tashmoo was the 1902 visit of President Theodore Roosevelt to Detroit.  For an afternoon, the President's blue and gold flag flew over the Tashmoo as the President toured the waterfront.

The Tashmoo came to its end in 1936 when, in the course of a turn, she struck a rock.  The captain was able to bring the ship to a nearby dock so that passengers could disembark before the Tashmoo  settled in 14 feet of water.

A salvage crew accidentally raised one end of the ship too quickly, and her keel broke.

The Tashmoo would never again sail the Great Lakes waters.


The Historic Detroit website has a great feature on the Tashmoo.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Steamship Company Cancels: Boston & Philadelphia Steamship Company

Boston & Philadelphia Steamship Line
Steamship Saxon

The company hedged on the reliability of steam power with the Saxon by running both steam power and sails. 

R163 1c documentary battleship on steam ship document fragment
"PHILADELPHIA" can be made out under the upper left corner of the stamp

B. & P. S. S. CO.
*  *  *

From The Historical Dictionary of the US Maritime Industry, 2011, by Kenneth Blume: 

I recommend this book for anyone research shipping cancels.