THE 1847 ISSUE CROSS BORDER-COVERS:
OLDIES YES, BUT ARE THEY GOODIES?
Other Cross-Border Covers
Some years ago Mrs. McDonald noted there were about fifty covers known with 1847 uses from Canada to the U.S. The record is higher today with 80 covers, including those from the Maritime Provinces. A number of these are illustrated in Boggs. There, Boggs’figure 26, shows the use of the red encircled 10 rate handstamp used as a canceller,figure 6. Further, this rare example shows that a prepaid letter with insufficient U.S. postage was accepted although the Canadian PAID was crossed out. The manuscript ‘Due 5’ rather than a ‘Due 10’was added in New York to indicate acceptamce of the partial prepayment of the U.S. postage by stamp.
The four examples, Boggs’ figures #22, 24 (seen here as figure 7), 27 and 31 show the correct, typical use of the encircled red ‘10’ handstamp as a New York City cancelling device on uncancelled 1847 stamps arriving at the New York exchange office on prepaid letters from Canada. Boggs’ figure 27A shows the same procedure with an open grid from a different exchange office. However, the canceller differs from the pen cancel obliterating the Canadian PAID, although no U.S. rate is specified. Boggs’ figure 23 is seen as lot 18 in the Dale Lichtenstein 1970 sale, and will be discussed later.
The reader who has been able to follow the discussion thus far with the Boggs’ book illustrations will have noted I have carefully avoided the examples from Canada marked ‘paid to the lines’, which bear 1847 adhesives. We do know that this marking on stampless covers implies just what it says—part payment to the border. Further, the similar marking on the U.S.-to-Canada covers with 1847 covers was discussed by the late Creighton Hart and Susan McDonald in a major series article in Chronicle. From the U.S. side, the 10¢ 1847 or pair of 5¢ 1847s paid the rate ‘to the lines’ leaving the Canadian postage unpaid in the 1849-50 period.
Before examining the known covers with stamps and the ‘paid to the lines’, let us summarize the known data regarding placement of an 1847 adhesive on a cover in Canada:
1) Part-payment both to and from Canada was permitted in late 1849-1850. Through payment was also permitted, if U.S. stamps weere used, but payment in cash could not be used between November 16, 1847 and April 6, 1851 for the U.S. portion.
2) The same manuscript and handstamp ratings were used on stampless covers as on stamped covers from Canada in 1849-1850 so that the opportunity for ‘improvement’ exists.
3) The usual, and apparently proper, cancelling device for the New York exchange office to use on incoming mail bearing adhesive stamps from Canada was the red encircled’10’ (or possiblely ‘20’ for a double) rate in the 1849-1850 period.
4) The wording ‘paid to the lines’ had definite meaning on stampless covers from Canada and on both stamped and stampless covers from the U.S. to Canada. It meant part-payment.
Because of the ready availability of material for the forger, it is wisest in the case of the 1847s used in Canada to follow Mr. Holtz’ and Mr. Sperati’s advice that,
“The examination of a stamp starts with the assumption that it is a forgery and attempts to prove this.”
Both also called for a detailed methodological analysis. Not all experts are willing to start from this basis, although a growing number do so today.
In this light, it should be put on record that it would appear to be the duty and obligation of any expert maintaining that the ‘paid to the lines’ manuscript notations do not mean what is clearly stated, and to give a detailed documentation of why it does not mean that, if that expert’s opinion is to carry weight. Why should this marking appear on covers that properly bear U.S. stamps to cover the border-to-U.S. destination portion of the cross-border rate? Its usefulness on covers where the U.S. portion is not paid is clear, but I have yet to hear an explantion for its appearance on covers with U.S. stamps applied in Canada that was satisfactory.
To date, I have been able to locate eleven examples of ‘paid to the lines’ marking associated with 1847 stamps used from Canada. Five of them bear a handstamp cancelling device. Several are generally questioned by experts.
According to U.S. PL&Rs, the August 26, 1850 Kennedy correspondence cover, Boggs figure 30, (seen here as figure 8) with the crowned circle PAID/AT/QUEBEC L.C. and the manuscript 11½d cy. should be an unpaid letter (20¢ due) insofar as U.S.postage is concerned if the encircled 20 canceller is in black as Boggs reports. (However, Mrs. McDonald notes that in the Collectors Club Philatelist of January 1965 this cover was illustrated by Vincent Greene and was there described as having a red encircled 20 rate. The use of a red 20 as a canceller, she reports can also be found on a 5-cent 1847 sold in the spring of 1975 in the Star sale.)
If the marking is a black 20 as Boggs reports, this would be a double rated ‘due’ letter in the U.S. and the single rate Canadian and double rate U.S. would not agree. The use of a black canceller in the pre-April 6, 1851 period at New York City would present serious problems for an expert, for it was a color almost entirely unused at New York then. Other than the stamp, there is no U.S. postage rate shown and it is true that the Canadian PAID in the crowned circle is not crossed out and there is no indication that it was ‘charge box’ prepaid. However, the Boggs’ photograph indicates the possibility that a penstroke was removed from under the ‘P’ and ‘A’ of PAID. Further, without physical examination, I would be unwilling to maintain that a U.S. rate might not have also been removed.
In analyzing this cover, Mrs. McDonald notes that the best thing going for it is the fact that other than the cancelled stamp, no other U.S. rate is indicated. In examining the crown circle for a pen removal, she adds,
“I don’t see indications of a pen cancel; I think the faint line is part of the crown circle.”
As can be seen, expert opinions can differ particularly when it is necessary to analyze an item by photograph alone—a very difficult procedure. In the differences of opinion, Mrs. McDonald places heaviest weight upon the apparent absence of a U.S. rate, whereas I would note the presence of the manuscript ‘paid to the lines’. In the new Censusby Alexander, this cover is noted as being certified by Creighton Hart and Susan McDonald.
The second paid-to-the-lines example is lot #15 in the Boyd Dale/Lichtenstein sale #10 where a red tombstone Montreal strike of February 15, 1850 is found with a manuscript 4½d cy. rate to the border, figure 9. on another Kennedy correspondence item. The pair of 5¢ 1847s are cancelled by a New York square grid. There is reportedly evidence of a tie via a ‘faint filing crease between the stamps’ as well as a minute touch of red of the square grid. New York did use a 13-bar square grid in red at this time, but I have recorded no other example on Canadian mail, while Mrs. McDonald suggest such examples need careful examination. (There is also an encircled red ‘10’ used to cancel the Canadian PAID but not as a canceller for the stamps.)
Thus, this cover meets all the qualifications of a stampless cover, with stamps added, a conclusion various specialsts have reached. Further, it might be noted that the manuscript ‘paid to the lines’ is directly above a ‘251’, which is the box number put on it by the sender to inform the addressee not to pay the whole postage and part has already been paid. Were this notation intended solely for the Canadian postmaster, it would read simply ‘Charge Box 251’. In the period when it was possible to part-pay or prepay a stampless cover examples can be found showing the distinctions between the two usages.
The Buckland cover, earlier shown as figure 1, is the third handstruck example. It has a circled grid, struck a minimum of four if not five times. As previously noted, experts do differ as to whether the shade of red on this and the encircled ‘10’ differ—they should not–on the same cover. However, the shade is approximate to the proper one for a New York marking. It has not proved possible to do adequate research by microphotographic plating to determine the exact characteristics of the grid on this cover—the over-striking is too extensive—to determine if it really is the New York circled grid.
No expert can say more than “It looks like the New York circled grid; I doubt anyone could swear it is that grid. As is well known, many a sin can be covered by a blurry postmark so that such postmarks are one of the real hazards of expertizing.
The various danger signals reported about this cover make it undesirable to use it as a proving copy of the ‘paid to the lines’ correctly used with 1847 stamps applied in Canada. This is true regardless of how one interprets this cover—good or bad. Proving copies need to be unquestioned to permit generalizations.
The fourth ‘paid to the lines’ cover with an 1847 stamp cancelled by handstamp is seen as Photo #199 in Ashbrook’s Special Service, discussed on pages 389-390, figure 10. This is also a Kennedy correspondence item, but not one that has the Canadian rate prepaid by ‘charge box’. Ashbrook noted this cover bears two single 5¢ U.S. stamps tied by a red encircled 10 rate. There is a red crown PAID/AT/QUEBEC circle as well as a red Quebec postmark of February 5, 1850.
This Kennedy correspondence letter also has a red backstamp of Montreal, dated February 7. There is a manuscript 4½d Canadian rate in red, 4½ pence currency (not sterling), according to Ashbrook. This is an improper rate as Quebec to the border is 11½d. Although it is almost certainly true that the manuscript would be in a different color than the address, it would appear Mr. Ashbrook was using a photo for analysis and confused a portion of the word ‘Esq.’ as part of the manuscript rate. If the red rate is really 4½ then this cover is very dubious. Another problem connected with it is the fact that it is addressed to New York, C.W. (Canada West)—the C.W. certainly is improper and may have been added, which raises questions about other possible changes. This cover is not recorded in the Alexander Census.
The fifth ‘paid to the lines’example, figure 11, is an ex-Stollnitz cover postmarked at Quebec and addressed to Thomas Lockwood at Detroit in the same handwriting as many Kennedy correspondence items. It has both a red crowned circle PAID/AT/QUEBEC and a double circle of July 29, 1850. It is rated in red manuscript 11½. A poorly struck red grid kills and barely ties the damaged 10¢ (or at least there is a smudge where a tie might be) and is used to strike out the PAID in the crowned circle. There is a red Montreal backstamp. This cover has been certificated as genuine according to the Alexander Census.
Out of the five ‘paid to the lines’ covers used with handstamp cancellations, all have different handstamps used as cancellers. There are at least some possible danger signals associated with each. Further, the five range from January to August 1850—a very short period for the four different cancellers, when it is realized that the red encircled ‘10’ is used as a New York City canceller on Canadian covers bearing U.S. 1847 stamps—not ‘paid to the lines’—from early 1849 to early 1851.
While there may be exceptions to the use of the encircled 10 as a canceller, I have not yet noted one, other than those discussed here. Mrs. McDonald has specifically warned about the problems potentially existing in any cover bearing two different handstamps, although not definitely ruling out the possibility of legitimate use. Of the five covers discussed, the new Tom Alexander Census book lists the first as being o.k.’d by Hart and McDonald, the second is just noted, the third is recorded as having a certificate, the fourth is not recorded. The fifth is recorded as certificated but has a unique anomoly in the canceller, which is red not the blue of the period.
There are at least six ‘paid to the lines’ covers with manuscript cancellations—four of which are in Boggs (his figures #20, 23, 25, and 27)—purportedly applied to U.S. 1847 stamps put on in Canada. While photographic analysis is not sufficient, are any of these such as to be unquestioned? I do not think so.
First, let us examine the cover, figure 12, reported as figure 200 in Ashbrook’s Special Services. This is a Kennedy cover from the Commercial Bank of Montreal of March 5, 1850. There is a manuscript ‘paid to lines 251’ as well as a red paid 4½ for the correct Canadian rate to the border. There is a Montreal red tombstone cancel which is overstruck by a red encircled 10 of New York. The stamp is pen cancelled with a black pen, which barely ties it at the bottom. Now , not only does this ‘paid to the lines’ cover lack the blue pen cancel, which was almost invariably used at New York in the period, it also has a U.S. rate, the encircled 10, on the face. It is unlikely that many serious specialists would concede that this stamp originated on this cover. Please note that this is the same handwriting correspondence and charge box account as the square grid pair of 1847s example cited earlier as illustrated in the Boyd Dale/Lichtenstein sale and shown here as figure 8
A second example from the Commercial Bank’s Toronto office posted April 21, 1848, and illustrated in Boggs as his figure 20, has a vertical pair of 5¢ 1847 stamps cancelled by three straight strikes of the pen, one above the other. There is also a fourth strike, which ties the bottom stamp, located strangely off-center to as to tie. In addition, there appears to be a 10¢. due marking applied at Lewiston, NY. It is located just below the Canadian manuscript 4½d. The Canadian PAID is crossed out by pen. The pen strokes used do not match the three strokes cancelling the stamps, although they are similar to the ‘off-center’ tying pen stroke.
The third example is not a ‘paid to the lines’ example. It is a Montreal September 8, 1849 cover to E. D. Morgan & Co. which was charged to Box 186 and which bears a single 10¢ 1847 and a 4½ rate. The Montreal postmaster apparently supplied the adhesive. The adhesive is tied by the red manuscript 4½ rate mark, and the PAID (which was done through Montreal charge Box 186, owned by Gillespie, Moffat & Co.) was struck out in both the charge box manuscript notation and the red MONTREAL/PAID/SP8/1849/CANADA tombstone handstamp by the New York clerk in the same blue pen ink that he used to put the squiggle killer on the adhesive. This ex-Boyd Dale/Lichentstein item, figure 13, is also illustrated in the Alexander Census and is certificated as genuine. It is one I would consider proving the proper handling of adhesives with manuscript cancels on charge box covers where the adhesive was supplied in Canada.
A fourth ‘paid to the lines’example is the Quebec money letter of December 12, 1849, (Boggs’ figure 25) that purportedly is missing a stamp, which was needed to make up the proper 10¢ rate. This missing stamp is conveniently indicated by a horizontal blot, whereas the existing stamp is cancelled with vertical strokes. The Canadia PAID is clearly crossed out in pen—as could also happen if this was a stampless cover. The stamp is ‘tied’ by the right stroke of the ‘11’ in the 11½d currency manuscript. This right stroke has an odd check characteristic and the width of stroke is quite different from the non-tying left stroke. While it may show a re-dipping of the pen into the ink well, this also might indicate a second pen marking over the original first to effect the tie. It is not a desirable characteristic although it cannot be assumed to be definitely proof of anything.
A far more dangerous sign is the fact that there are apparently two ‘1’s in the ½, the top one of which ‘ties’ the stamp. This top ‘1’ is also formed quite unlike the ½ found in Boggs figure 24, a Quebec Kennedy correspondence cover of October 3, 1849, where the ‘1’ is part of the cross-bar, or Boggs figure 27, another Kennedy Quebec cover of February 23, 1850. Commenting upon this point, Mrs. McDonald notes,
“The line you think is an extra ‘1’ is, I think, a pen cancellation of the stamp. If so, it was done at New York City, and so presumably will be a different color from the 11½.”
She points out a color photograph would help settle the point. However, this still does not solve the problem of the horizontal line directly under the top ‘1’, which was part of the basis of my including this manuscript as a danger signal. Nor, does it account for the horizontal marking (rather than vertical) which purports to be a portion of the cancellation of the missing stamp. In my opinion, there are far too many danger signs relative to this cover to ever warrant consdering it as a ‘proving copy’ for 1847 stamps legitimately used on a ‘paid to the lines’ cover out of Canada.
The February 12, 1850 Kennedy correspondence cover illustrated as Boggs’ figure 27, figure 14, has more going for it than most of the other ‘paid to the lines’ covers discussed thus far. There is no obvious indication of a U.S. rate other than the adhesives; the Quebec crowned circle is apparently not crossed out; the cancellation ink is reported as blue—the proper color for New York at this time. The stamps are two singles rather than a pair, which would have been analytically preferable.
The manuscript cancellation appears to be two separate strokes—one for each stamp and there is a crease right between the stamps. Although it is difficult to tell from the photograph, the tying pen stroke does not appear to be the same for the portion on the stamp and that portion on the cover itself, almost as though the stamps had been moved a bit to the right. While far less can be found to question, without detailed physical examination, I still would not be willing to accept this as the ‘proof example’ that 1847 stamps can legitimately be found on ‘paid to the lines’ covers from Canada. This cover is signed by Vincent Greene and also has an expert certificate of genuineness. The certificate is not noted in the Alexander Census book.
Figure 15, is a ‘paid to the lines’ cover that was lot 232 from the Creighton Hart sale, a Quebec cover of January 5, 1850 from the Kennedy correspondence. The red Canadian 11½ rate is not struck out but the PAID is crossed out in the Quebec crowned circle by the New York blue ink, which was also used to give a squiggle cancel on the two 5¢ brown adhesives and tying the lower one. There is also a Montreal backstamp. It is a cover I would accept as a ‘proving’ example of how U.S. adhesives were handled when applied in Canada. It is noted in the Alexander Census book as being signed by Ashbrook. Boggs’ figure 16 is an earlier 1847 example where even the stamp was ‘charge boxed’ for the 10¢ through rate on a cross-border cover and applied not by the addressor but by the Canadian postoffice.
Each of the ‘paid to the lines’ covers discussed above has provenance’. Each has been recorded in its present form for forty to eighty years if not longer. Further, each has been attested to by major philatelic experts such as Mr. Boggs, Mr. Lichtenstein,or Mr. Ashbrook or a well-recognized certificating organization. Consequently, they are certainly ‘oldies’.
The question is, are each of them ‘goodies’? Has sufficient evidence been adduced by those who uphold their genuineness to explain away the anomolies of postal history and postmark recorded of the New York or Detroit offices that have been discussed here? Is it possible that provenance is working here to ‘kung-fu’ the experts?
For myself, as a postal historian of the markings of New York State, I could not accept any explanation that required the stamps to be applied at New York rather than Canada. More importantly, the evidence adduced is not yet such that I am convinced than any legitimate use of the 1847 stamps from Canada exists on a ‘paid to the lines’ cover. Mrs. McDonald has opined that the phrase refers to amounts paid in cash. I am quite certain that this is untrue, for the ‘paid to the lines’ marking also appears on covers with ‘charge box’ notations—and those clearly means that cash was not tendered.
I would again draw attention to the logical inconsistency of noting on the cover that the Canadian postage was prepaid, as the ‘paid to the lines’ notation does, if the U.S. postage was also prepaid via a stamp when the cover was posted. The notation serves no practical purpose regardless of whether the Canadian postage was paid in cash or by charge for as long as the U.S. stamp is on the cover to prepay the postage on the American side of the border, the recipient doesn’t pay anything and doesn’t need to know what happened in Canada.
Only when the U.S. postage is not paid does the ‘paid to the lines’ marking have significance. Then, it would appear that logically the existence of such a notation is an almost absolute exclusion of the legitimate use of the U.S. 1847 stamps applied in Canada.
Before I could recommend buying a ‘paid to the lines’ cover with U.S. 1847 stamps as an example of the U.S. stamps used abroad, I would want to pay for extra research fee of some major postal historian of Canadian cross-border covers to get a detailed documented analysis of all known covers with this ‘paid to the lines’ use with U.S. 1847s used abroad. In regard to the particular cover that sparked this article, the ‘expert opinion’ of any certificating organization would not be good enough. I would want to know just why the item is good, not just that it looks good to one or another expert. I would also want to know why an apparently irrelevant marking is found on the cover.
In buying, I would only consider recommending the dozens of examples of U.S. 1847s used from Canada where the potential problems of the ‘paid to the lines’ question do not exist. Obviously, other collectors and auction agents can and do, react differently. But, however they react, it should be with the full knowledge of the problem areas involved, not only philatelically bbut also from the postal history viewpoint. They should also realize how even the best and most honest experts can be ‘kung-fu’d’ into error.