Stamp 'cancellations'

This issue goes from the sublime, to the ridiculous. I get envelopes from vendors who have papered them with older, mint stamps. Having travelled from the other side of the world, there is not ONE post office cancellation. Today, I received two such envelopes from within Canada, and some a-hole has scribbled across them with marker.

Q1. How do I classify un-cancelled stamps?

Q2. Is there any way to remove the children's marker from the stamps' surface?


  • 11 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I believe that is the modern form of a manuscript cancel. I have received envelopes in the US mail with stamps cancelled in pen. Generally on oversized or thick envelopes that probably can't be machine processed and have multiple stamps on them. I don't believe that removing the cancels will make the stamps mint.
  • One of the P.O.'s missions is revenue protection. They're not so much concerned with how collectors react to pen cancels, even though we don't like them. Its the job of the sorter or carrier to cancel stamps that were missed by automated equipment or items that couldn't be sent through their machines and they generally don't carry cancelling devices on their person. Pens and markers they do.
  • Many thanks guys, but neither of you actually answered my questions...
    Please and thank you.
  • Actually, John answered your question #1. Those stamps ARE cancelled and are classified as such, either as 'pen cancels' or, as John said, 'manuscript cancels.' If you weren't referring to the stamps cancelled by the markers, and meant the 'skips,' once they're removed from the envelope or whatever, they would be (albeit technically incorrectly) labelled as 'unused' or 'mint, no gum.'
    Q#2: No.
  • If the stamps have seen postal service, whether they are canceled or not, they are USED. Also, it is illegal to reuse such a stamp that was not canceled.
  • The problem is, once an un-cancelled stamp is lifted off of a cover, there's no way to tell if it came off an envelope or was a mint stamp that never saw an envelope but instead had its gum removed (a common occurrence in humid, tropical climates where leaving gum on stamps caused issues, especially back in pre-air-conditioning days). Hence, the currently accepted term: 'unused' (and like I said, not technically correct). Typing 'USED' in all caps doesn't change that. Many also include 'no gum' after 'unused' just to make it clearer.
  • Thanks again George (with apologies to John for his answer) for both of your responses.
    Thanks also to Michael.
  • One of our local clerks would cancel my philatelic mail with a single pen stroke across a corner because he thought collectors would like it. The first time I was too surprised to say anythong. The second time I had to stop him and explain. After that he just handed me his round dater when I walked in.
  • When I send orders to customers (UK & Overseas) I ask my local post office staff to cancel the stamps I use with their "PO Counter Date Stamp" - I thank them all with a box of candy each Christmas
  • I have heard in Canada here, that older stamps, 5 years or so, do not get recognized and thus go through the system uncancelled.

    Most of the clerks at the Grocery Store PO's don't even remember or know to cancel them, they just take a $30 postage stamp parcel throw it on the counter behind them. It is great if you get them uncancelled.

    I use 157 different envelopes to mail stamps, covers and cards. All have a different cachet about 4 inches wide on them of older Telegraph covers back to the 1850's. Whenever I get a different one. See image.

    For some reason when I click on UPLOAD AN IMAGE nothing happens.
  • Reduce the file size to no more than 800 pixels wide.
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