The Boston Post Office, and the Development of Machine Cancellation (Exhibit Text Frame 7 of 7)

February 18, 2018

Our Society's president, William Barlow, Jr. , has produced an award-winning exhibit (2008 Indypex GOLD, Napex GOLD, Postmark Society award, and many more) on the history of machine cancels used in Boston, Massachusetts. Most collectors of machine cancels will recognize that Boston was a major center for experimentation with new machines, and study of American flag machines used in this city alone offers an amazing variety. The exhibit goes well beyond the American company and is a useful education for both new and experienced machine cancel collectors. This web page contains text of the exhibit pages created by William Barlow, Jr., and are reproduced and distributed to the public with his permission.

This web page, published by the Machine Cancel Society, contains the text of Frame 7 of the Barlow Boston Machine Cancel History Exhibit.

To see exhibit frame images, click on Frame 7 exhibit frame images.

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American No-Diespace Tests

Labeled as Boston's earliest no-diespace flag when found in 1971. In Winnetka, Illinois later in 1907.

Two coples known, both with the same date

Most recently discovered Boston no-diespace flag, first reported in 1991. No other copy known

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American No-Diespace Tests

The Summer of 1909

Eight different no-diespace flag dies yielding nine varieties appeared in July and August of 1909, and many of these saw usages over several weeks. The explanation for this unmatched activity is unknown.

The first Summer 1909 machine. In use: About July 3 to August 2, 1909

July 31, 1909. TWO other copies in early July recorded.

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American Postal Machines Company Flags

No-Diespace Tests

In use: About July 3 to August 24, 1909

In use: About July 7 to August 21, 1909. In Nashua, New Hampshire before the end of 1909

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American Postal Machines Company Flags No-Diespace Tests

This no-diespace flag die from the Summer of 1909 has been found With two different types of dials.

With split-year Type B dial. July 31, 1909 the only date known

With Type A dial. In use: About August 6 to 26, 1909

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American Postal Machines Company Flags No-Diespace Tests

Final two Summer 1909 flags. The ninth variety, used with a Type D dial, is shown earlier as 'a throwback.'

In use: About July 26 to August 19, 1909. In Pierre, South Dakota early 1910

In use: About August 11 to 27, 1909

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American Postal Machines Company Flags No-Diespace Tests

The Final Few

With no recent design innovations and no Post Office orders for machines after 1917, the no-diespace flags found in Boston from the end of 1914 to 1920 are unlikely to have been there for testing. Of the nine machines from this period, these four saw extremely brief usage.

Final Boston no-diespace flag.

Three coples reported, all dated August 45, 1920

The only other example reported is the accidentally-applied impression on the reverse of this cover. Month and day unknown

First reported in 1975, imprints of two different flag machines on the same cover and no other Boston copy of either die reported slnce. Presumed to be December 1914 and January 1915. The 1914 die went to Fort Dodge, Iowa; the 1915 die went to Saratoga Springs, New York

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BOSTON STREET RAILWAY POST OFFICES

After successful experiments in St. Louis, Boston was among the first to inaugurate street railway mail service using converted street cars that were essentially small scale railway mail cars. The Boston Circuit R.P.O. began in June 1895 with two routes, each of 20 to 25 miles. In October 1895 the Boston Circuit became the first to install a cancelling machine on a car.

The first street car machine cancel (top left) was in use from October 14, 1895 to mid-September 1896. At that point (bottom left) a triangle was inserted in the diespace in lieu of '1' and was used through 1897. Beginning in 1898 two different dies with text in the flag were used: the first (top right) from 1898 to 1912 and the second (bottom right) from 1912 to 1915, when the service was discontinued

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POW Camp # 6 mail - Major General Dean mail

From late 1902 to 1913 the Boston Circuit had a cancel with a '2' in the die space. A photograph of the interior of a postal street car provides evidence that at least one car had two cancelling machines on board, suggesting that the '2' did not designate a second car or the second of the two Circuit routes

Although the dial shows a time of 4-AM such times were for the start of the trip. Times of 10-PM and 2- and 4-AM are seen

From August 18 to September 10, 1906, the dial indicated the TRIP number rather than the time. This copy: September 3 and TRIP 6

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American Postal Machines Company Street Railway Flags

Boston had six other postal street car routes, all but one of which are now known to have briefly had flag machine cancels. Of these, the machine cancel with the longest life was that of the Boston & Brighton R.P.O. which was used from December 1898 to June 1907.

The Brighton line also used both time and trip numbers in its dials, but, unlike the Boston Circuit, TRIP was more common. In use: 1898—1907

Cancels with the TIME designation in the dial are known on a single day in December 1899 and irregularly from May 28 to June 7, 1901. Five examples reported

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American Postal Machines Company Street Railway Flags

Each of the other four postal street car routes from which machine cancels are known apparently had the machines for less than a year in 1897 and 1898, although the lines were in operation from 1895 to 1915.

Cancels of the Boston & North Cambridge line have been seen with Trips 8, 10 and 12 in the dial. In use: November 1897 to November 1898

Cancels of the Boston & Somerville line have only been seen with Trip 16 in the dial. In use: mid—February to mid-November 1898. Four examples reported

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American Postal Machines Company

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 9

October 1, 1917

Boston was the last major city with flag machines, but at the beginning of World War I it had only nine machines in regular service-fewer than half of those in use at the turn of the century. On October 1, 1917, all of the remaining flag machines-four with Type A dials and five with Type B dials-were fitted with dies promoting the 2nd Liberty Loan Drive. When the slogans were removed at the end of October, only eight machines remained. The WWI slogans provide a graphic image of the decline of the machines developed in Boston in the nineteenth century.

2nd Liberty Loan die '9'. Discovered in 1990. Four copies recorded from October 2 to 17, 1917

The die numbers for all of the slogans, shown in quotes, are arbitrary, since no machine number has yet been associated with any of them

Two International machines in Boston also carried 2nd Liberty Loan slogans. The International slogan was used in 22 cities; the American flag slogan was used only in Boston.

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 8

October 31, 1917

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American Postal Machines Company

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 8

December 1, 1917

Beginning on December 1, 1917, the same eight machines-four with Type A dials and four with Type B dials-were fitted with 'Food Will Win the War' dies. Between December 1917 and February 1918 three of the four Type B dial machines were eliminated.

(Top) Die '2': one of the four slogans with Type A dials. (Above) Die '6': one of the three slogans with Type B dials that did not survive this run of the 'Food Will Win the War' promotion. The relative scarcity of the B dials compared with the A dials would suggest that the former were not in constant use

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 5

April 4, 1918

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American Postal Machines Company

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 5

April 6, 1918

The 3rd Liberty Loan lasted from April 6 to May 5, 1918, and the five remaining machines with Food Will Win the War slogans were given 3rd Liberty Loan dies which had been made from routing out '2nd' and inserting '3rd' in dies used the previous October.

(Top) Die '4' of the Type A dials in its latest recorded use. (Above) Die '9': the only Type B dial slogan remaining. This was thought to have been a newly made die until the discovery of the same die with a 2nd Liberty Loan slogan (page 7). Even though die '9' was used until at least May 3, no Type B dial has been seen after May 6 when the Food Will Win the War dies were reinserted

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 4

May 5, 1918

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American Postal Machines Company

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 4

May 6, 1918

When the 3rd Liberty Loan drive concluded in early May 1918, the four Type A dial machines were refitted with the Food Will Win the War slogans which remained in place for another ten days. These machines then continued with flag dies numbered 3, 4, 5 and 6 into 1919. After December 27, only machine 3 remained.

The latest recorded usage of any of the 'Food' slogans (top).

A post-slogan return of the flag dies (bottom). Machine 6 is using the same dial as the slogan above. The last recorded use of machine 6 is November 18, 1919

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 1

December 27, 1919

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American Postal Machines Company

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 1

January 1, 1920

Although the literature cites flag machine 5 as lasting into 1920, no example has been seen after December 27, 1919. Machine 3 has long been credited with a final use of February 28, 1920, but the copy shown here extends that date by more than nine weeks. Such a long interval would suggest that the machine was very little used after 1919.

Universal machine 5 and International machine 6 (above) with dates earlier than the machine 3 flag (top) make it unlikely that flag machines 5 and 6 lasted as long as flag machine 3. The last recorded usage of flag machine 4 is in November 1919

THE COUNT DOWN WITH SLOGANS -- 0

May 6, 1920?