Chad – Surface and Airmail Services

Many countries have both surface mail and airmail services available for international destinations. The postage fee of course differs, airmail being more expensive as it arrives quicker than surface mail.

Surface Rate of 60 Francs to USA

Surface Rate of 60 Francs to USA

Surface rate cover dated November 7, 1967 from Baibokoum, Chad to Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Airmail Rate of 90 Francs to Canada

Airmail Rate of 90 Francs to Canada

Airmail rate cover dated April 5, 1968 from Moundou, Chad to Ottawa, Canada.

Tchadanthropus (uxoris) is the subject of debate as to where the fossil remains belong in the scientific classification system. There are arguments for it being an archaic Homo sapien (heidelbergensis), a synonym of Homo erectus and same favor a Homo sapiens classification. Still others indicate it should be considered an unidentified specimen as it’s condition doesn’t allow for accurate measurement even though it’s estimated between 700,000 to 900,000 years old.

The Scopes Monkey Trial and WJ Bryan

A high school substitute teacher, John Scopes, was accused of teaching human evolution in Dayton, Tennessee where it was against the law (Butler Act) in 1925. The trial became known as the Scopes Monkey Trial. It was never clear he actually did teach evolution, but the attention the trial brought to the subject and location made it much of a publicity stunt. The lawyer for the prosecution was William Jennings Bryan who was an active anti-evolutionist as well as a politician. When Bryan was embarrassed by questions from defense lawyer Clarence Darrow, the judge expunged the testimony and the case was closed without a summation, Bryan being declared the winner. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision and Scopes was released a free man.

Special Delivery Fee paid by Issue of 1986

Special Delivery Fee partially paid by Bryan Issue

First class letter (25¢ postage) from Durham, Connecticut to Greensboro, North Carolina dated May 17, 1990 with Special Delivery service ($5.35 fee). The Special Delivery fee was paid with two copies of the $2.00 Bryan issue of March 19, 1986 supplemented with additional stamps (1.60) for a total of $5.60.

U.S. Fancy Cancel with Ammonite Design

Fancy cancels (actually killers) were used from the 1850s through the 1900s to render U.S. postage stamps used on mail invalid for reuse. They were often made by postmasters of third class offices as they had to pay for their own supplies. They used locally obtainable materials such as corks or wood blocks and cut designs into them, or in many instances, bought ready-made devices, commercially produced using vulcanized rubber. Such devices incorporated various geometric designs of crosses or stars, objects such as shields, more elaborate designs like a skull and crossbones or even images of people and animals.

These cancels are found mainly on banknote issues of the U.S. up until approximately 1900 even though the U.S. post office department issued regulations on the standardization of cancellations in 1890 which should have eliminated use of such devices. There are also later examples of commercially produced fancy cancels from the 1920s and 1930s and the U.S. was not the only country to use fancy cancels as Canada and other British Colonies used this type of killer as well.

The black ink normally used with metal devices clogged the commercial vulcanized rubber devices quickly. As a result, manufacturers formulated inks which could be used with them and not clog the device. The formulated inks were not as dark and other colors such as purple or violet were popular even though postal guidelines specified black.

Our interest lies in one cancel design with the spiral image of an ammonite worked into the center of an 8 petaled flower. One story I’ve heard on the origin of the design is that it was used in those cities and towns where ammonite fossils had been found. In the case of at least one city, it’s plausible to think this theory may have originated there, although a bit stretched when one considers the other cities where the design was used.

Ammonite Fancy Cancel

Ammonite Fancy Cancel Device

Although the cancel appears on many U.S. banknote issues of the period, the more interesting and scarcer examples of use appear on U.S. official stamps of the various departments of the federal government. These governmental departments had field offices which used official stamps to pay the postage fees and sent their mail through the normal local post office channels. For instance, in the case of the Department of Agriculture, pre-stamped return envelopes were provided to farmers so they might report issues concerning seed orders and other agricultural issues. Although covers bearing the design exist where the city of use can be verified, no cover has been reported on official mail bearing this design.

Ammonite Cancels on U.S. Official Issues

Ammonite Cancels on U.S. Official Issues

Note: the example on the 2 cent Interior stamp above appears as a negative impression. This is likely the result of over-inking the device and then using it multiple times before re-inking. The ink in the recessed areas would make the impression rather than ink from the raised design as would be normally expected.

Postage stamp issues the cancel design is known used on:

  1. U.S. banknote issues between 1870 and 1890
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture
  3. U.S. Department of the Interior
  4. U.S. War Department

Colors the cancel design is known in:

  1. Black
  2. Purple

Cities the cancel design is recorded from:

  1. Cash City, Kansas
  2. Gila Bend, Arizona
  3. Juniata, Pennsylvania
  4. South Bradford, New York
  5. Superior, Wisconsin
  6. Vicksburg, Colorado
  • My thanks to Mr. Alan C. Campbell for his assistance with information on the background of fancy cancels in general, on officials stamps specifically and the additional examples of this cancel design on official issues.
  • References from the James Cole work – Cancellations and Killers of the Banknote Era 1870-1894.

Multiple Use of Swiss Issue – Andrias scheuchzeri

It’s interesting how mistakes are often as strange as prehistoric life itself. Fossil remains of giant salamander Andrias scheuchzeri were found by Swiss naturalist Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) and the interpretation was that they were of a human who had drowned in the Great Flood of the bible. (One guy who really missed the boat!) He named the specimen Homo diluvii testis. If one looks at Scheuchzer’s illustration, you can see how this mistake might have been made by naturalists who were only beginning to understand the origins and progression of life forms with the implements and scientific instruments of the day.

Drawing by Johann Scheuchzer

Illustration by J. Scheuchzer

The cover below uses four copies of the 40+10 centimes value and a single copy of the 30+10 centimes value from the 1959 Swiss Pro Patria issue (the 10 centime surcharge of each stamp went to charity). This stamp combination paid the airmail rate of 1 Franc 40 centimes (50c for the first 20 grams plus 3 x 30c for an additional 60 grams) from Zürich (Hottingen), Switzerland (Oct 19) to the Los Altos, CA as well as the registration fee (50c) shown by the ‘R’ label attached with tracking number 069. The letter may have contained something of some small value as it also cleared customs inspection without charges or penalty, indicated by the San Francisco #32 US Customs Inspector marking (Nov. 4).

Multiple Use of Swiss Issue

Multiple Use of Swiss Issue

The father of paleontology, French naturalist Georges Cuvier, corrected the misclassification of the fossil remains after studying the illustrations by Scheuchzer and this proposed ancestor to our history never came to be.

Sir Arthur Keith

Sir Arthur Keith (1866 – 1955) was a Scottish anatomist and anthropologist. He was a professor and conservator of the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, England as well as President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. His interest in the subject of human evolution led him to become a strong supporter of the Piltdown Man discovery together with Charles Dawson. It has been suggested that he prepared the fake remains for Dawson to salt the Piltdown site with, however, more recent information points to Martin Hinton, Keeper of Zoology at the Natural History Museum. Evidence discovered in a trunk at the museum belonging to Hinton had bones and teeth processed in a similar manner to those of the hoax. The case remains a mystery as to “Who done It”.

This cover is an example of envelope reuse during WWII. Originally, the cover was sent from London (postmark indistinct) to: “Sir Arthur Keith, F.R.S., Buckston Browne Farm, Farnborough, Kent” (seen through the address label). The return corner card beneath indicates “In case of non-delivery please return to MACMILLAN & Co., St. Martin’s St., London”.

The reuse is addressed to Dr. Beatrice McDown, 203 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. USA and was sent on February 12, 1945 from Bromley & Beckenham, Kent at the surface rate of two and one-half pence for the first ounce.

Cover from Sir Arthur Keith

Cover from Sir Arthur Keith

The obverse of the cover has the manuscript text: “from Sir A Keith, Downe, Kent” in what one must believe is his own hand.

Cover obverse with name in script

Cover obverse with name in manuscript

It’s an interesting element in the far-reaching story of paleoanthropology in general and the Piltdown man hoax in particular.