Sorry for being cryptic. It is a cover I am considering purchasing for my fledgling half-cent postage dues on cover collection.
The item in question is PF cert #262276, J88 on cover, deemed a philatelic usage:http://pfsearch.org/pfsearch/pf_grd...lledfrom=lkp
Clyde Jennings famously offered a $500 bounty for a legitimate commercial usage of J88 on cover. There are conflicting reports as to whether or not he ever obtained one. This cover is about the closest one can get, with the exception of first day covers, which have no legitimate reason for the postage due stamp do be on the cover (at least none that I have ever seen).
I have never seen depicted or offered a usage of J88 on cover within the period of 1959-1963 other than first day covers.
I inquired of the PF as to the meaning/justification of the word "philatelic" in the opinion. Their reply:
At the time this cover was mailed, the rate to Canada was 18¢ for the first ounce. The USPOD disregarded the postage value of the "B" stamp since it's use in international mail was prohibited and that left only 17.5¢ valid postage on the cover.
Since the letter could not be sent to Canada unless one full rate of postage had been paid, the cover was returned and the J88 was applied, thus signifying that it was a one ounce cover, underpaid by 1/2¢.
Those who reviewed the cover believed the underpayment was deliberate, in order to obtain a "usage" of the 1/2¢ due on cover. In fact, the 1/2¢ stamp was discontinued on April 10, 1963 and remaining stocks were ordered destroyed ("The Half - A Collection," Clyde Jennings, p. 82), so, more than likely, the J88 was provided by the sender and not the post office.
So it is a legitimate rate usage, but one they believe to be manufactured.
A couple of problems with the response though:
1. I don't know what version/edition of Jennings' "The Half - A Collection" the PF is citing, but the version available online from the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society says no such thing. The only thing Jennings states is the following regarding J88:
Issued June 19, 1959, discontinued April 10, 1963, since new rate structure did not require half-cent denomination.
He makes no reference to existing stocks being destroyed, unless that was standard USPS practice.
2. Even if Jennings did state that in his exhibit writeup, we need an authoritative first-hand source.
3. I can find no reference in the USPS bulletins from 1962 or 1963 about the half-cent postage due stamp being withdrawn and/or existing stocks being destroyed.
4. Even if it was withdrawn, it remained valid up to 1986 when all postage due stamps were withdrawn.
I realize I'm splitting hairs here, but the determination that it is a philatelic usage is extremely subjective, IMO.
Regardless, for the purposes of my collection I think I would much greatly prefer this cover to a first day cover. It becomes a question of what a reasonable market value is for a cover like this. The asking price isn't insane, but it's not exactly cheap either.
The only other examples of J88 on cover at the PF are the following:
1. Horizontal pair on first day cover. No rate-related reason for the dues to be there (no markings at any rate). Not one I would ever want anyway. I prefer either solo usages of half cent dues, or combination usages paying fractional-cent rates. Even numbered multiples paying full cent rates are by far the most common usages out there and really don't fit the reason for the stamp's existence, IMO.http://pfsearch.org/pfsearch/pf_grd...lledfrom=lkp
2. Single on first day cover. Again, no legitimate reason for the stamp to be on the cover.http://pfsearch.org/pfsearch/pf_grd...lledfrom=lkp
That's it. The 2 FDCs and the cover I'm considering buying. That's the entire population at the PF (of the certs made available online). I don't find any in the APEX cert archive, none at Siegel archive, or at SAN.
File under "beggars can't be choosers" and pony up?... I suppose if a "real" usage ever comes along, I can always sell this one...
It just would be nice to have a J88 usage to go along with the J68, J69, and J79 covers I have.