Pre WWI TPO world cancels

Discussion in 'Stamp Chat' started by Makanudo, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Makanudo

    Makanudo Moderator Moderator

    I am begining to be interested in old cancells and would like to learn more, especially about various types of travelling post offices.
    I dont know if anyone here has interest in this area, if so, please share some of your knowledge and samples.
    To start the thread, I am posting a FD postcard that commemorates 100 years of TPOs in Serbia and a french postcard with nice cancells.

    001.jpg 002.jpg
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  2. DonSellos

    DonSellos Moderator Moderator


    I don't collect TPO's and know little about them, but they appear to be an interesting collecting area. In the U.S. they are referred to as RPO's (Railway Post Office) and there are people who collect the route and train cancels. I see RPO covers from time to time on eBay, but I don't think the cancels command much of a premium.

    During the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were hundreds of RPO routes in the U.S. In the U.S. the RPOs were used only on passenger trains, but after WW II, as private auto and air travel increased, the railroads took passenger trains off their routes steadily. By the 1970s all the RPOs, were all gone. I actually worked for a short while in the late 1950s as a substitute mail clerk on RPOs on runs from Chicago to Omaha, Omaha to Cheyenne, and Omaha, to Denver. I didn't like it though. The RPO cars were hot and dirty in the summer, and cold and dirty in the winter and the work was very irregular and the hours of work usually very late at night. I eventually transferred into the main Post Office in Omaha.

    Keep us posted on your TPO collecting. It's an interesting area to me.

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  3. anglobob

    anglobob Moderator Moderator


    A couple of years ago,I purchased a large collection of French TPO or convoyeur cancels but really havent spent much time updating it.There is quite a lot of interest in this area and there are lots of related items on Delcampe.I have scanned a couple of covers and a few stamps with interesting cancels. Image (23).jpg Image (21).jpg Image (20).jpg I would be glad to help with any questions ...this might be a good time to work on this collection.

  4. Makanudo

    Makanudo Moderator Moderator

    I know US had very developed railway network since the middle 19th century so its only logical that this form of mail transport dominated domestic mail traffic.
    In Europe, you had railroads, but you also had many long rivers, that ran through several countries, so mail traffic by ships was often the fastest route.
    Don, it is fascinating for me to hear the first hand experience of a postal professional from back in time.
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  5. Makanudo

    Makanudo Moderator Moderator

    French train TPO cancells are easily reckognisable. I am yet to see the ship mail variety in order to know the difference.
    I guess that when TPOs are in question, one needs to know to tell the difference from ordinary cancells and collect all the varietes and combinations.
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  6. anglobob

    anglobob Moderator Moderator

    Makanudo...., This is quite an interesting and helpful site.
    I have a few stamps from the paquebot era,cancelled with an MB marking.and have been looking for stamps with an anchor cancellation,which indicates they were used by maritime mail.There are blue and black anchor cancellations. Anchor.jpg Anchor 1.jpg
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  7. anglobob

    anglobob Moderator Moderator

    Hello....I have just purchased this item which I find very interesting,It is a Portuguese post card depicting a local costume.It is addressed to someone in Bordeaux France but it has a maritime cancellation from Bordeaux to Buenos Aires.
    After purchasing it,I now have to wait almost 2 months to receive the item.Probably longer than the original mail took back in 1908.... maritime mail.jpg
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  8. DonSellos

    DonSellos Moderator Moderator


    An interesting item. Not sure you are looking for an explanation re: the cancel but here is how I read it.

    The card was posted aboard a ship, probably a French ship given the French stamp, that was on a scheduled Bordeaux to Buenos Aires route. The initials and number at the bottom of the cancel probably indicate the ship and the direction it was traveling at the time of the cancel.

    Travelling post offices in the U.S. did not indicate where in the course of a route an item was canceled. The ship identifier and trip number, though, would indicate the direction the ship was travelling. This card could have been cancelled on board before the ship left Bordeaux and sent ashore before departure, or more likely, it was posted somewhere enroute from Buenos Aires to Bordeaux. Possibly, after a stop at a Portuguese port given the nature of the card.

    I think you need additional information to determine the ship and direction it was travelling.

    The message may lend a clue as well. I can't read French well enough to get the gist of it.

    Here is a link to info re: some French seaposts:

    Someone else on the exchange will, I'm sure, be able to provide more accurate and authoritative information.

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