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The Auxiliary Markings Club: Earliest Known Usages

The Auxiliary Markings Club,, seeks to provide a forum for collectors of these fascinating and ubiquitous bits of postal history - either as a primary interest (e.g. pointing fingers) or as adjunct (e.g. part of Prexie Postal History).

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Earliest known usages (EKU) are tabulated in the Auxiliary Marking Record

earliest known usageearliest known usageEarliest known "Service Suspended" marking:

I recently did a google search for Service Suspended in an attempt to get information on a marking that I had on a postal card. I found your site and found the entry. I also read on your site that you wanted information on markings earlier than those you have listed. I have one earlier than two that you have listed. You have the earliest listing of a Return to Sender/Service Suspended as to the Philippines on 12/19/41 and the earliest to Europe to St. Tropez, France as 9/29/42. I have two Return to Sender/Service Suspended to France that are earlier than either. Both are on UX27. One is from Needham Mass to St. Cloud France on 4/25/41. The other is from Boston to a Roubiox Nord, France (a has a l'acent grave) dated 9/26/40. As is requested on your web site, I am including 100 dpi and 300 dpi scans of the purple handstamp. The handstamp is roughly 2 3/4 x 1/2 inches. Both cards have another purple handstamp which reads in all caps 'Retour a L'envoyeur/Relations Postales/Interrompues'. A scan of that marking can be provided, but it isn't very clear as it is across a typed address on one card and isn't very distinct on the other. The 9/26/40 card is back stamped in New York on 9/17/41 (yes, one year later). Apparently it was held in New York for the year. Cary Finder, Director, United Postal Stationery Society

earliest known usageEarliest known request for return of a nondeliverable letter:

August 27, 1860, letter, from Chicago, Illinois to West Northfield, Illinois, paid at the 3/1/2oz, first-class letter rate. The corner card reads: "THE POSTMASTER WILL PLEASE RETURN THIS LETTER to I. H. BURCH & CO., If not called for within two weeks after its receipt." This is the earliest known example of a request for return of an undeliverable letter, printed only months after the regulation of July 23, 1860, which first permitted such returns, free. (Leonard Piszkiewicz Collection)1

early usageEarly use of a machine cancel for a Return to Writer/Sender Message:

Machine cancels used for the return process are not known used very early. The January 11, 1923, "RETURN TO WRITER UNCLAIMED" example illustrated by member Roland Austin on his Auxiliary Markings In My Collection web site is the earliest known example of a machine cancel RMS 48 for a Return to Writer/Sender Message. [The example here of January 8, 1926 had been reported as the earliest known use; this was updated on July 6, 2004 with new information.]

earliest known usageEarliest known use of a typed label for auxiliary markings:

August 22, 1974, letter, United Nations, New York to Cockeysville, Maryland to Nitro, West Virginia, single rate. The beginning of the national use of labels for the forwarding, and, eventually, the return process, began in the mid-1970's and first involved the use of a plain yellow label upon which a typed message was placed. These labels were introduced officially on December 4, 1975, as change of address labels, to be placed under the original address. They soon became used for communicating many other messages. Examples of these labels are known used experimentally before this date. For instance, this letter was mailed on August 22, 1974, to Cockeysville, Maryland and forwarded with an experimental example of the new yellow forwarding labels on August 28, 1974 (circular date stamp on the reverse of the cover).1

earliest known usageEarliest known use of a computerized label for auxiliary markings:

December 30, 1978, post card, Des Moines, Iowa to Portland, Oregon to Beaverton, Oregon, single rate. In late 1978, computerized, bright yellow labels began to replace the older typed light yellow ones. The announced date has not been found in the Postal Bulletin, but the cover shown carries the earliest known example of one, possibly an experimental usage. This computer-generated label acts just like the typed ones, giving the forwarding address in Beaverton, Oregon for a letter first addressed to Portland, Oregon.1


1: The Forwarding of Mail by the U.S. Post Office Department, 1792-2001, Anthony S. Wawrukiewicz, pp 53, 63, 65.

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