recent finds

Here are a few recent, inexpensive eBay acquisitions. I’ve tried to explain why they interest me.

Cashincover NoteCashincover Frt

This tiny, grungy cover tells a sorry but intriguing tale. The sender—prompted by his parents, one suspects—had enclosed 46 cents as compensation for a certain Mr Grayam (Graham?). The guilty youth then put on one cent in postage instead the required four cents, wrote an apologetic note and inscribed the envelope with an incorrect address. He (for surely this episode has a boyish flavour) didn’t give a return address, nor did he put his name on the note. What was the post office to do?

Cashincover Bk

Well, get busy with its rubber stamps, of course. On front, beside the standard steel postmark, we have 6 CENTS DUE (double the deficiency) and FOR BETTER DIRECTION/PLEASE DO NOT REMAIL/UNDER THIS COVER. On the back are four indistinct but different markings from the Vancouver Dead Letter Office and the Vancouver Postal Station “D” Letter Carriers Branch. The square DLO marking at upper right is extremely rare. In fact, this is its first reported usage; previously, its existence was only known from a proof strike (shown at right of cover). All this from eBay for less than $15. But did Mr “Grayam” ever get his money? Did the post office collect what it was owed? Did the miscreant progress to a life of crime? These questions, I fear, will never be answered.


Figuring out unusual rates is fun. Take this shortpaid, special delivery drop letter, for instance. Despite the Nanaimo return address, the envelope was carried to Vancouver, marked “special delivery” and deposited in the Vancouver mail stream. Postage of 13 cents was applied. Perhaps the sender thought the rate was three cents for domestic mail and 10 cents for special delivery. Actually it was 20 cents for special delivery in 1934 and only two cents for a “same city” drop letter. The helpful postman even left an accounting on one side of the cover: 22 cents owed, 13 cents paid, leaves nine. Double the deficiency is 18 cents due, which is what was charged and collected here.


I seem to be accumulating, often via eBay, a modest pile of BC covers that were mailed to Scandinavia. Perhaps it will be an exhibit someday. Scandinavian pioneers, of course, made a huge contribution to the development of the province, especially on the coast, where many of them homesteaded and worked as fishers, boat-builders, miners, loggers and mariners. This 1912 cover to Sweden from a Scandinavian employment agency overpays the 5-cent UPU rate by a penny. There’a a Goteborg backstamp.


I’m always looking for intriguing items for my Haida Gwaii collection. This 1939 cover from Skidegate Mission has a wonderful return address: a general merchant who sells totem poles. Early commercial mail from the remote archipelago is quite scarce.