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Encyclopedia > Fancy cancel
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US 2-cent stamp of 1870, cancelled with a leaf shape in blue ink
US 2-cent stamp of 1870, cancelled with a leaf shape in blue ink

A fancy cancel is a postal cancellation that includes an artistic design. Although the term may be used of modern machine cancellations that include artwork, it primarily refers to the designs carved in cork and used in 19th century post offices of the United States. Jump to: navigation, search Image File history File links Stamp_US_1870_2c_Jackson. ... Jump to: navigation, search Image File history File links Stamp_US_1870_2c_Jackson. ... A machine cancellation On mail, a cancellation (or cancel for short) is a postal marking applied to a postage stamp or postal stationery indicating that the item has been used. ... The Mona Lisa Although today the word art usually refers to the visual arts, the concept of what art is has continuously changed over centuries. ... Design as a process can take many forms depending on the object being designed and the individual or individuals participating. ... Figures of speech and shorthands are called terms of language. ... Modern can simply mean something that is up-to-date, trendy, new, or from the present time. ... A machine cancellation of Poland A machine postmark or machine cancellation is a postmark or cancellation on mail that is applied by a mechanical device rather than with the use of a handstamp. ... The Mona Lisa Although today the word art usually refers to the visual arts, the concept of what art is has continuously changed over centuries. ... Jump to: navigation, search A cork stopper for a wine bottle A Champagne cork Cork material is a subset of generic cork tissue, harvested for commercial use primarily from the Cork Oak tree, Quercus suber, with Portugal producing most cork worldwide. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Small-town post office and town hall in Lockhart, Alabama A post office is a facility (in most countries, a government one) where the public can purchase postage stamps for mailing correspondence or merchandise, and also drop off or pick up packages or other special-delivery items. ...

When postage stamps were introduced in the US in 1847, postmasters were required to deface them to prevent reuse, but it was left up to them to decide exactly how to do this, and not infrequently clerks would use whatever was at hand, including pens and "PAID" handstamps left over from the pre-stamp era. Jump to: navigation, search This 1974 stamp from Japan depicts a Class 8620 steam locomotive. ... 1847 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... If you are looking for different meanings of this word, see Postmaster (disambiguation) A postmaster is a term used in post offices to denote the head or master of the office. ... In the earlier days of the postage stamp, postal officials worried much about the problem of postage stamp reuse, and invented a number of schemes to mark or deface the stamps. ...

A number of offices began to use cork bottle stoppers dipped in ink. These worked well, but would tend to blot out the entire stamp making it difficult to check the denomination, and so clerks began to carve a groove across the middle of the cork, making two semicircles. Further enhancements included two grooves cut crosswise (the four-piece "country pie"), and then two more, for the eight-segment "city pie", and notches cut out off the outer edge to lighten the cancel further. A number is an abstract entity used originally to describe quantity. ... A stopper is a truncated conical piece of rubber or cork used to close off a glass tube, piece of laboratory glassware, a wine bottle or barrel and other containers with orifices. ... A denomination is a unit of currency. ...

The carving process seems to have sparked the creativity of clerks across the country, and soon thousands of designs appeared, ranging from shields to skulls to stars, geometrical shapes, animals, plants, and devils with pitchforks. The Waterbury, Connecticut post office was the master of the practice, and turned out new cancels for every holiday and special occasion. Their "Waterbury Running Chicken" cancel, perhaps a turkey since it appeared close to Thanksgiving of 1869, was in use for only a few days and is now the most prized of all 19th century cancels, with covers fetching very high prices. Waterbury is a city located in New Haven County, Connecticut. ... The First Thanksgiving, after the painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (1863–1930) Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is an annual holiday celebrated in much of North America, generally observed as an expression of gratitude, usually to God. ... Jump to: navigation, search 1869 is a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... Cover may mean: Cover (container), a lid Cover (telecommunications), a communications concealment technique Cover (philately), generic term for envelope or package Cover (law), a remedy for the breach of acontract for the receipt of goods. ...

The era of fancy cancels came to an end in the 1890s, when the Post Office Department issued new regulations standardizing the form of cancellations. The 1890s were sometimes referred to as the Mauve Decade, because William Henry Perkins aniline dye allowed the widespread use of that colour in fashion, and also as the Gay Nineties, under the then-current usage of the word gay which referred simply to merriment and frivolity, with no... The Post Office Department was the former name of the United States Postal Service when it was a cabinet department. ...

The fancy cancels have since been studied and categorized by specialists. Many types are quite common, and command only a small premium, while others are rare. Not all have been discovered yet; previously unknown cancels continue to surface regularly.


  • Herst and Sampson, 19th Century Fancy Cancels (1963, 1972)
  • James Cole, Cancellations of the Banknote Era 1870-1894
  • Skinner and Eno, United States Cancellations 1845-1869

External links

Fancy cancel



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