Today in Postal History

Uncancelled Cover

United States Domestic Use
November 8, 2002


This striking cover was sent November 8, 2002, from Louisiana to Florida.
It is nicely franked with 3 of the 10 Washington
and 2 of the 5 Franklin imperforate singles cut from
the 1947 Centenary International Philatelic Exhibition souvenir sheet.

The total postage used was 40 which is an overpayment of the 37 first class rate.

But wait a minute, the stamps have not been cancelled!

Clearly, the cover was reviewed by the encoding machine as evidenced by the code at the bottom.
What, then, has happened?

The first step in automated mail handling is facing the cover for cancelling, encoding, and sorting.
The facer-canceller prepares the covers for cancellation by finding
the corner in which the stamp is placed and then orienting
the cover so that the cancellation falls on the stamps.
The envelope is then encoded and sorted using the encoding.


The key to this operation is that the stamps must be tagged with phosphorescent material
so that sensors can locate the upper right corner of the front.

The stamps on this cover were issued long before such tags went into use.
The first field tests of tagged stamps started after August 1, 1963, in Dayton, Ohio.

As a result, the stamps on this cover were not recognized as stamps
but rather as untagged printed ornaments on the cover.

We often see such devices on advertising covers.
The net result was that the cover was not cancelled.

Since the cover was already in the encoding and sorting  process, it was then added to the stack
destined for the distributing post office for the destination Zip code.

When it arrived there, it was resorted for the route of the postperson who ultimately delivered it.

It is doubtful if this cover was ever viewed, even briefly, by a human
after it was stuffed in the original processing machine.


All of which leads to an interesting result from modern postal history.

My thanks to John (magnoliastamps) who sent me this most interesting modern postal history item.

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