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Seeking Opinions On Captioning Covers In An Album

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Valued Member

United States
427 Posts
Posted 10/06/2019   8:22 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Philazilla to your friends list Get a Link to this Message

I collect US stamps and keep them in custom albums. I'm starting to collect covers and am struggling to caption them consistently. Sometimes the stamps are interesting (plate position, color, etc.). Sometimes the postmark is interesting. Sometimes there are contents. A few have interesting content. Most that have content have boring content. I'm go back and forth on writing details that are obvious ("red grid cancel"). Here are some examples:
1848 Stampless Drop Letter Lettersheet

Red New Haven CDS and 2c postmark. 2c paid the drop letter rate. Contents written by a sister proselytizing her brother.
1852 Circular

Type II, unplated. Dec 22 (1853) New York CDS. Addressed to New Haven, CT. Circular announces dividend for the "Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R.R. Co."
1851 Copperish Orange Brown on Lettersheet

Type II, plated 78L2E. Boston CDS. Sent to Franklin, NH on Nov, 10 1851. Contents enclosed
1856 Small Ladies Cover

Type II, unplated from Plate 2L or 3, Relief A in 1856 Brownish Carmine shade. Danbury, CT CDS Postmark. Addressed to New York on September 3 (likely 1856).
1859 Forwaerded Territorial Cover

Two Type III stamps.

Mailed from Kansas Territory on March 2. The first stamp is canceled with a black Wyandott CDS. Addressed to Hardin County, Ohio.

The recipient is not there, so the Dudley post office clerk crossed out the address; added "Yellow Springs, Green Co, Ohio;" and "Dudley, Ohio Mar. 14" on the left; added the second stamp to pay the forwarding fee; and canceled with manuscript.

Docketing on reverse shows shows that the letter was received on March 15 and a reply was sent on March 23.
1861 Union Patriotic Cover

Type III straddle margin stamp canceled with a six-bar circular grid cancel. Savannah, OH CDS. Addressed to North Bloomfield, OH.

Patriotic cover features 24-star flag labeled "OUR UNION FOREVER."

How does anyone else do this?

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Pillar Of The Community
1048 Posts
Posted 10/07/2019   01:56 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Kimo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
You have a nice assortment of US covers from the 1840s to the 1860s. The fun thing about collecting stamps and covers is that you get to decide what to collect and how to organize them and how to write them up. At some point you might decide to focus your collecting on something in particular such as covers with a specific stamp, or from a specific state, or patriotic covers, or covers with railway post office cancels, or territorial covers or whatever you chose. Or you can continue collecting assorted covers from these decades and write them up as you have been doing. All are fun ways to collect.
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Valued Member
United States
249 Posts
Posted 10/07/2019   08:34 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add hoosierboy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Morning Philazilla,

There are about as many answers to this question as there are people to answer it. Personally, I would focus on what your purpose is in doing the write up. Purpose sort of defines what of the many elements about a cover is the most important to convey to the viewer.

A basic album page would contain the usual information found in a catalog. Expanding it I would include information on why this cover is more than another cover handled by the post office in its era. A group of covers on pages should tell the story of whatever aspect of cover elements you choose to focus on.

Adding a title to the top of you page can be useful to focus on the purpose of its inclusion in your collection.
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United States
427 Posts
Posted 10/07/2019   5:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Philazilla to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the thoughts!
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United States
972 Posts
Posted 10/08/2019   12:32 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add chipg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
There are a lot of covers described in the exhibits on these pages for you to look at:

Basically, I think you're on the right track. I might just add the year and denomination in front of your "types" when describing the stamp, such as 3c 1857 Type II or 24c 1861 grey violet...

You can also try to figure out a basic set of headings and sub-headings, as well as a standardized format for the description.
For example,
Above the cover:
Headings - 1861 Issues, Foreign Mail, Circular Mail, Free Franks...
Sub Heading - Circular Mail, Patriotic Use...
(or some combination of the above - heading is the broad category and the sub head is the key thing about this cover within the heading category)

Below the cover - a standardized format:
First paragraph - From, To, Date. Basic description of the cover
Second (optional) paragraph - Description of something unusual about the cover you want to point out (such as the description of the Patriotic above)
Third (optional) paragraph - Census (e.g. "one of three known," "earliest use of this cancellation device" ...), Provenance ("ex. Gross"), References ("illustrated in Brookman, Vol. 1, p. 321"

Hope that helps.

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United States
1320 Posts
Posted 10/08/2019   6:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cjpalermo1964 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Another suggestion is to look at auction catalog descriptions, such as in the Siegel sale of Gross covers that is up for auction soon. If you think about how you would describe each cover if you were an auction catalog "lot describer," you've mastered it.
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