Postal History 'Mystery' Items, Solved!


I have posted several "mysteries" over the years, and some have been solved! Many thanks to those kind people who have replied and assisted.

Handstamp from India

indian RPO handstamp indian RPO handstamp

This mystery item is a picture postcard mailed from India to Santa Barbara, California, in 1907. The American flag cancel used as a receiving mark in Santa Barbara is not the mystery, but rather it is the Indian postmark. I've asked some India collectors and they have guessed that it might be an Indian RPO mark. This is indeed the solution (see below).

The lettering in the Indian postmark seems to be "US IN SET No. 2". The Indian mark is dated 18 November, and the receiving mark indicates December 25th.

The Solution

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 17:21:15 +0000
Subject: India cancel


If nobody else has chimed in, I think the India postmark is a railway mark used as a cancel (common practice). Trains are descibed as IN or OUT and UP or DOWN indicating direction. The first part of this cancel usually takes the form letter colon number e.g M:13. Railway lines were divided into SECTIONS and sections into SETS. This cancel was in use for 30 years from 1891.

Hope this helps

Regards Richard

Richard Masters

Army City, Kansas

duplex handstamp of army city, kansas duplex handstamp of army city, kansas

I asked the question "Where is (or was) Army City?"

This mystery came from my work on first world war U.S. postal history. I have an image of a soldier's postcard used from "Army City, Kansas". See above for some scans of the duplex handstamp used there. I asked if this place was part of Fort Riley? Part of Camp Funston? Close to these military facilities? Near or part of Junction City?

I have had several helpful answers, including the following:

From: "Doug Fisher" < dfisherikj99ri5i5i6@prodigywkjeh3hwhwh222.netkvndfnfnrnrn6669 >
Subject: Army City Mystery Solved
Date sent: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 16:07:12 -0400

During the First World War Camp Funston was built in 1917 on Fort Riley at the east end of the main fort. It was in a 2,000 acre rectangle on the Pawnee Flats next to the Kansas River (a.k.a. Kaw River). Just at the east end of Camp Funston, toward Ogden, Kansas, there was a commercial area constructed for the use of the boys at the camp. It was about 4 blocks long and contained lots of different business establishments. It was called Army City, and was also known as the Zone. It sold just about anything a soldier could want.

Doug Fisher

So, the jist of it is that this was a civilian enclave built especially to service the off-post needs of the soldiers from Camp Funston. This camp was not particularly close to any large cities.

While informal enclaves of businesses were located close to Army and Navy facilities in the First World War, this is the only one that I know of, that was established solely for this purpose. After the end of the war, I am told, this "town" disappeared.

Night Service

night service marking on mail night service marking on mail

I asked about a cover I have with the purple handstamp "Night Service". It is addressed to a hotel, which is the key to the answer.

Several kind folks answered that this was a service of the post office to hotels. If a letter arrived while the hotel was still opened at night, it could be immediately delivered by a bellhop (for a good tip, I might imagine).

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