Smaller communities often use the post offices of nearby cities and no special indication (other than perhaps the return address as in this instance) that they originated from outside the city is evident in the postmark. There are occasions however when outlying facilities had their own canceling device even though the mail was routed through the larger post office.
Mayville Rural Station
In this case, the postmark reads “Mayville Rur. (rural) Sta. (station)” along the bottom of the datestamp in addition to the standard town name of “Fossil, Oregon” along the top. The post office began operation in October 1884 with Samuel Thornton as postmaster. I’ve been unable to find the date of final operation for this station in the literature I’m familiar with.
Postage due stamps are also part of the postage stamp stock the postmaster at Fossil, Oregon can use. To reduce the time and effort of canceling stamps, the same precancel device as used on regular postage stamps (see the article on Fossil, Oregon precancel stamps) was used on postage due stamps.
Fossil, Oregon Postage Due Cover
The first class surface letter rate increased from 10¢ to 13¢ on 31 December, 1975. This cover is dated 11 January, 1976 and has a manuscript marking indicating three cents is the amount of postage still due. A total of three cents in postage due stamps was applied to conform to the new rate.
The ‘Return Receipt’ (RR) Service provides verification to the sender that an article they mailed was delivered. The service began 1 July 1863 and was used for registered mail only until 1 January 1913 when it also was available for insured mail. Until 15 April 1925, no additional special service fee was paid for this service and the penalty clause on the card served to pay the return postage fee.
Delivery is acknowledged through the use of postal form (card in some cases) 3811 which notes to whom the item was delivered and the date. It later included the date of mailing as well. On receiving the item, the recipient signs and dates the return receipt and hands it back to the postal clerk, thereby acknowledging receipt. This service is available to the public, but is also used for ‘Official Business’ mail between government offices which is more desirable and scarcer than commercial use.
Return Receipt – postal form 3811
The more interesting part of this particular form however is the on the opposite side of the card as the article in question was sent to the Wheeler County Clerk in Fossil, Oregon.
Return Receipt Card used in Fossil, Oregon
The postal clerk in Fossil applied a 9 bar killer handstamp, dated 23 August 1922 at 9PM, to validate receipt of a registered article number 14167. The instruction to do this is contained in the square box “Postmark of Delivering Office and Date of Delivery.” (It’s interesting that a postal employee would be working that late in such a small town.) This form was then re-mailed, postage paid, under the authority of the “Post Office Department – Official Business” corner card text and penalty clause text in the upper right corner. The form was returned to the original sender in Seattle, Washington.
Serendipity strikes on occasion and the two covers below are surely an example. It may have been that someone connected with the SDMNH thought the museum’s return envelopes were an opportunity to make some interesting natural history related covers. I believe these envelopes were intended for membership renewals and perhaps there actually were members in the cities they were mailed from.
The covers are posted from two cities with paleontological names and use the trilobite issue of the April 29th 1982 Energy commemorative issue to produce a thematically connected cover. They do that very nicely and one can’t argue that each one alone appears to be commercial mail. I’m a little skeptical however as the mailing dates are very close, but then again, membership renewals are done within a short period. The first cover is posted from Dinosaur, CO (Nov. 30, 1982) at the first class rate of 20 cents, to the museum in San Diego, CA cancelled with a four bar hand device. The second cover is posted from Fossil, OR (Nov. 29, 1982) at the first class rate of 20 cents, to San Diego, CA cancelled by a wavy line machine device.
Return Mail Envelopes to Museum
I’ve only seen these two covers, so am not able to say if more were purposely made or not. If they are, one would believe no more than a handful exist, but until more are forthcoming, I can rejoice in these two examples and the thought that serendipity does happen.
Cities with paleo-philatelic related names are often found with the city name in a hand cancel device. There are also other devices used to cancel mail such as hand rollers for large flat items, precancel devices and automated letter canceling machines as examples.
Fossil Oregon – Machine Cancel
This postal card from Fossil, OR (03/30/65) to the Sunset Magazine company in Menlo Park, CA mailed at the domestic postcard rate of 4 cents, was canceled by running it through an automated machine along with other letter mail.
Fossil is a small city in north-central Oregon, named by it’s first postmaster and mayor, Thomas Hoover, after he found fossils in the clay-like rock on his ranch. The city boasts the only public fossil dig in the U.S. Access is available to anyone for a small fee of $5 and up to 3 fossils can be removed from the site. Tours and workshops are also available from the non-profit organization Oregon Paleolands Institute.
The post office, established in 1876, maintains a precancel device and several types have been used through the years. Those I’ve been able to find follow:
Type 1 has upper and lower case serif lettering and a three letter state abbreviation.
Type 2 has upper case serif lettering and a four letter state abbreviation.
Type 2 on small format stamp
Type 2 on large format stamp
Type 3 has upper case san-serif lettering and a four letter state abbreviation.
Type 4 has upper case san-serif lettering (thinner) and a two letter state abbreviation.
The pre-cancels can be found in a vertical position.
Type 4 – vertical
And a bit more oddly on a large format commemorative issue that allows the precancel to show twice.
Type 4 vertically double
If you know of others, please comment and send an image.