featuresopinionsusforeignsalesphilatelist boardcontacthome


Review Of Bruce Mosher's New Book

Catalog of Private Express Labels and Stamps, United States 1839-1918, Canada 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 United States and Canada . 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.

Richard Frajola (May 22, 2002)