Of Bruce Mosher's New Book
of Private Express Labels and Stamps,
1841-1926 by Bruce H. Mosher, 2002, 223 pages, 8¼ by 11½ inches, soft
cover, perfect bound. Published by the author, Indialantic, Florida, $35.00 plus
shipping ($2.00 book rate in United States, $5.00 letter post to foreign
destinations), available from Bruce H. Mosher, P.O. Box 033236, Indialantic, FL
32903, United States.
This well produced and executed book
is the first attempt at a real catalog of the various adhesive labels, stamps,
and printed corner cards of the “Express” companies that operated during the
classic period in the
. As such, it will be welcomed by all of those who have interest in the vast
number of companies that handled the movement of mail matter, money letters,
newspapers, and packages outside of the confines of the often limited government
services provided. It will also be welcomed by the legions of collectors who
have the proverbial “mystery box’ of stamps and labels that they can’t
find listed in the standard catalogs.
The catalog lists and prices over
three thousand items. An easy to understand numbering system is employed that
begins with an alpha designator for each company that incorporates a final
letter as either an Express or a Delivery Company. The next portion of the
identification differentiates the specific item as a corner card, complimentary
frank, label, or denominated stamp.
A typical entry includes a brief
history of the Company including period of operation if known, a black and white
illustration of the item, perforation information, size and the specific listing
with catalog number, color and valuation. Entry specific references, including
published articles and reported usages are provided in many instances. Several
of the larger companies, such as American Express, have the emissions segregated
by the use of the emission. These include franks for free shipments and passes;
labels for instructions or type of operation; and stamps for specific functions.
Enlargements of design details are provided when design differences are minute.
The book also includes a general bibliography as well as cross references to
other compilations that have appeared in print.
I was pleasantly surprised to find
that this book includes many bogus and phantom issues such as Buck’s Richmond
Express (a phantom Confederate States express) as well as several S. A. Taylor
productions. Many known forgeries are also included. The Western Express franks
and Ocean Mail Forwarding Agent labels are generally excluded. For labels that
exist in the same design but with different office names, the author uses a
shared design number and does not attempt to list all of the offices that used
the same design. This convention was certainly prudent given the large number of
offices that used the shared designs.
This book is not intended to be the
final word on either the adhesives or the actual functions of these companies.
It is however, a major step in the direction of an understanding of this complex
and fascinating area. Although I might disagree with a few of the specific
listings because I believe them to be fakes or forgeries that aren’t so
designated, I find myself more often than not compelled to seek out additional
information from the sources listed.
I think this book is an excellent
value and recommend it to all of the members of the Carriers And
Locals Society. Don’t leave your home library without it.
This review was written for, and
will appear in, the July, 2002 issue of The Penny Post, the journal of
the Carrier & Locals Society. For membership information regarding the
Society, please go to the Society web page.
For facts about the book and
ordering information, an Adobe pdf
file prepared by Bruce Mosher.
The image at top shows a typical
usage of an orange "American Express Forwarded from Palmyra, New York"
label affixed to lid of 20 lb. container of "Wolverine" Tobacco.
Frajola (May 22, 2002)