The 10c Registry Stamp of 1911 – Book Review

Discussion in 'United States Stamps' started by Molokai, Dec 17, 2018.

  1. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    United States – The 10c Registry Stamp of 1911 by Robert L. Markovits. Quality Investors, Ltd., 1973. (Reprinted from the Collectors Club Philatelist.) Paperback, 32pp, Semi-Glossy stock. The book is nicely illustrated with images – 35 of them to be exact! Current best buy @Amazon is $9.00 - a bargain IMHO.


    One (of many) ways to organize stamp collectors is by dividing them into two groups 1) Those who like to specialize – depth and 2) Those who like to cover a lot of philatelic bases – breadth. I’ve always been the former although every stamp collector knows the pull of the latter! For that reason I especially enjoy books on a specific stamp issue or issues. Many of these, such as the volume here under consideration, were first serialized in the periodic literature and then printed in book form.

    As mentioned in another thread, I’ve always been fond of this little blue stamp. Although I do not have a collection of them, I have a nice envelope in one of my shoe boxes with perhaps a dozen examples, a couple multiples and a cover. In reading this book, I found the wide variety of covers for such a short-lived stamp to be somewhat surprising.

    This book is only 32 pages for, alas, the life of this little stamp was short-lived. Still, one can dig some deep as Mr. Markovits has done. The stamp is nicely summarized in the introduction to this tome, titled General:

    “On Friday, December 1 ,1911, the United States Post Office experimented by placing on sale a distinctive stamp intended solely for use on registered mail, a ten cent light blue stamp picturing an eagle.

    “Postmaster General Frank H. Hitchcock did not, however, prohibit the use of regular United States postage stamps to prepay the registered letter fee.

    “The failure, in some ways, may have prevented Hitchcock’s idea from having the intended effect – to enable postal clerks to easily identify registered mail.”

    Further: “The idea, if it had worked, would have had a long life. From the start, however, critics complained that the idea for this stamp had not been completely thought out since a stamp of the denomination of 12c should have been provided (the first-class postage during the currency of this stamp…was two cents).”

    On May 5, 1913 Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson who had replaced Hitchcock in March of that year, ordered the use of the special stamp discontinued when the supply on hand was exhausted.

    The author mentions the fact of the stamp not having a registered mail exclusive several times. He also notes, as I have above, the variety of usage for such a short lived issue.

    Sections – General, Design, Plate Numbers, First Day of Issue, First Month Uses, Free Franking Covers, Eagles Abound, Most Difficult Uses, Alaska Uses, Shanghai China, Perfins, Precancels, Bibliography. The bibliography is quite extensive, indicated the depth of the author’s research.

    The eagle design was from a pen and ink model sketched by Clair Huston of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). Using die #350 the vignette was engraved by Robert Poinickau and the frame, lettering and numerals were completed by Edward Hall. Mr. Hitchcock signed off the final proof on September 23, 1911 in a light blue shade selected by James Britt, the Third Assistant Postmaster General.

    The author suggests the eagle was after a design by Harry Chorlton. (See image Registry 2.) I think it an attractive stamp especially in the light blue shade. Of the limited number of examples it appears the color did not stand the test of time particularly well. I have only one stamp I would say was a sharp, bright blue. Perhaps there were different draws of ink used, also? Several of mine have an almost grayish tint. I believe there is a W-F stamp in a very similar color/shade but I am too lazy to look.:bucktooth:

    The Bureau designated eight plates for this stamp: 5720, 5723, 5726, 5729, 5848, 5871, 5875 and 5879. The last four plates were held as reserved but were never used. The initial order was for 10,000,000, 25,000 sheets of 400 stamps each. When the stamp was withdrawn 38, 210,000 had been printed and delivered. Here, the author delves more deeply in to specific plate numbers, positions and a plate varieties. (See image Registry 3.) Plate varieties are probably limited, but I am sure there are more to be found.

    In 1911 First Day Covers were not the hot property they would be a decade or two later. Ergo, for most stamps in general and the registry stamp in particular most FDCs were prepared by stamp dealers. At the time of the writing of this book the author had located two covers posted on 1 Dec 1911. (See image Registry 4, from our good friend Bartels during his Nassau Street days.) I assume by now there are others? Anyone here with an updated census?

    For its short life, the registry stamp traveled far and wide. Perhaps for the collector it is a silver-lining that regular postage was not included in the stamp! (See image Registry 5, 6.)

    Mr. Markovits has done some good-old-fashioned philatelic research and his easy style really brings the issue to life. (I ponder and wonder how much fresh research will be done when the Old Guard all leave for the Big Stamp Album in the Sky? I am sure there is much more to be discovered in many areas!)

    Definitely an enjoyable and instructive read. My trading mentor used to remind me, “There’s a lot going on in those charts!” Mr. Markovits' work on the Registry stamp reminds us, “There’s a lot going on in those stamps!”

    Good Lord willing, creek don’t rise I’ll begin 2019 with reviews of the two FDR books and Armstrong’s US Definitive Series 1922-1938.


    - Molokai

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  2. DonSellos

    DonSellos Moderator Moderator

    Great review, Molokai. It's my observation that special service stamps don't appeal to U.S. postal patrons, the special delivery stamps being an exception. Many were short-lived. Besides the registry stamp, I am thinking of parcel post stamps, parcel post dues, special handling stamps, the certified mail stamp, the Vietnam airlift stamp, and even the airmail special delivery stamps. There may be others as well.

    Molokai likes this.
  3. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    Concur. There is a nice book on the Airmail Special Delivery stamps by Ron Sloat. They were quite attractive issues.
  4. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    Very nice Molokai, wish I could give you a census of the registry stamp FDC's. Long ago I kept auction catalogs, which I threw out a few years back, there among at least one of which I remember was one such FDC and a census of known covers. Unfortunately I don't remember anything except the cover being expensive.

    Being one of those "breadth" collectors I of course have an example of the registry stamp and a couple of covers.
    Molokai likes this.
  5. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    Thanks <HOCH>. I now try to not throw anything away. In the early part of this century, when I was not collecting, I purchased close to half-century of the American Philatelist from the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library. They sat for some years and I (kicks himself a hundred times!!!) threw them out.

    If you specialize, auction catalogs can be useful. I have a dozen or so N & P stamp auction books.
    Hochstrasse likes this.
  6. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    Molokai, I know you are right. There have been at least a half dozen times I vividly remember wanting to look up or remember something that had been sold at an auction. The best ones, which are those illustrated in color, give provenance and a bit of historical fact making them excellent reference pieces. I do regret tossing them out and have been saving a few since, but since my acquisitions have slowed down the opportunity to get them wanes.
    Molokai likes this.
  7. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    There is a story in one of the FDR books...When they gathered his collection for auction/sale they found boxes and boxes of stamps, many damaged or very common issues. Apparently he couldn't bear to throw out anything philatelic!
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    Hochstrasse likes this.
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