Table of contents
- Cancellation postmarks
- Postmarks for non distribution mail
- Postage pre-paid and frank postmarks
- Exceptional routing postmarks
- Postmarks for incidents and accidents
Date stamps are used to frank mail figurines and to affix service indications (date, time and place) on covers. In this article, we will only study the cases where postmark (either manual or mechanical) does not serve to frank stamps.
When a post office omits to affix its date stamp on outgoing mail, the employee of the office who notices this omission, whether in transit or on arrival, has to cancel the postage stamp by all means in its ownership. Furthermore, the employee must not affix the mail with his own date stamp: if he or she made it, the postmark would not give a valid date and time of the departure, according to the traditional expression. Thus, offices used to frank, in transit or on arrival, with a linear mark with their name, which they usually use to stamp administrative documents. However, as we are going to see, various ways to cancel postage stamp can also be found. As a last resort, the postman has to " cross out figurines " during the postal delivery. We will also show, at the end of the paragraph, the case of international letters.
Before showing a number of cancellation postmarks, I would want to begin with the case which seems the most logical: the departure office notices the error and cancels the stamp with a manual postmark:
The above slogan is called by philatelists “Montargis slogan” because it first appeared in the city of Montargis on August 07th, 1969. Its exact name is: “special label for the mechanical cancellation of figurines not franked at departure”, according to the article 001.0015 of the nomenclature 500-50 of the PTTs’ material removed in 1984.
The examples given below correspond to more or less classic linear marks of post offices.
It may be noted that the INSEE number differs from the zip code of the city: thus, Saint Cloud’s zip code is 92210, while its INSEE number is 92084 as can be seen on the above image (mystery of the French administration?).
The following marks can be viewed as “makeshift marks”, which means marks within reach for the person that must cancel one or several post stamps. In some cases, the used mark could be considered as diverted from its normal use.
The postmark OR (Origine Rurale in French) allowed to frank stamps. It was only used for the mail personally delivered to the postman. Letters were then directly distributed without going to a post office. This cover should be franked according to the usage rule of this postmark, that is applied “strongly, to the upper right angle and to the lower left angle of the figurine”. Such covers are not frequent in modern period; we can even wonder if it is not a complacency cover.
The mark OL (Origine Locale in French) allowed to frank post stamp. It was used as the OR mark, but in town. The above letter-card was sent on 14th December, 1972, came from the railway station of Mailly-la-ville and was sent to an inhabitant of this city.
Some foreign countries have specific cancellation marks (Switzerland or Belgium for example) extremely recognisable.
During the sending of a mail, it happens that it does not reach destination or it is delayed for various reasons. So, with an incomplete address, an unknown way, a refused taxation..., a letter must be returned to his or her sender. The postal service tries to investigate the addressee of the letter by playing an investigator’s role. To deal with these accidents and to remedy it, the PTT employees have of a plethora of postmarks. This is the purpose of the following paragraphs.
The mention return to sender is a mail note serving to indicate that a mail was not able to be forwarded or distributed for a reason independent from the mail service and must have returned to his or her sender, if this one can be identified.
A stamp allowing to affix the mention return to sender was introduced in 1866. Since this date, seven official models of stamp are known, since the 1866 model to that of 1964.
The reasons for non postal delivery can be classified in five categories:
This reason corresponds to the famous NPAI (do not live in the indicated address or lives any more in the indicated address) of Post office.
In this category of reasons, the stamp “INCONNU” (unknown), but also “ADRESSE INCOMPLÈTE” (incomplete address), “ADRESSE INSUFFISANTE” (insufficient address), “LOCALITÉ INCONNUE” (unknown locality), “VOIE INCONNUE” (unknown way)... may be found.
Marks as “DÉCÉDÉ” (dead), “DÉMÉNAGEMENT” (move), “PARTI SANS LAISSER D’ADRESSE” (left without leaving a forwarding address)… may be found. In the case of registered letters, we can have delivery notices and the mark “NON RÉCLAMÉ” (unclaimed).
There are usually refused mail. This may be the case, for example, for a registered or for a taxed letter.
In this case, the reasons “PAS CE NOM” (not this name), I“NCONNU À L’APPEL” (unknown in the call), “NOM COMMUN À PLUSIEURS PERSONNES” (name shared by several people)... may be found.
Set up from the first half of the XVIIIth century, many changes have come to pass for the dead letter office since its inception.
For the period between 1971 and 1978, this office was centralized in the city of Libourne in Gironde (except for military and pneumatic covers) and was called “Centre de Recherche du Courrier”. This centre had three missions: search for addressee of a mail not having been able to be distributed, retaining of this mail for a certain period if the addressee was not able to be found and the removal of these dead letters.
Postage pre-paid allows a company sending a lot of letters to make bulk mail without needing to frank letters. However, postage meter markings may be found with a date stamp with the mention P.P. and cancelling a stamp.
The postal franchise is a provision by which the delivery of some types of mails is free. At the time of the stamp 0,50F Marianne de Béquet, the President of the French Republic had this postal franchise for mail sent to France, but not for mail sent to foreign countries.
From July 1, 1972, a 90 mm x 140 mm minimal size was imposed by the PTTs for letters, because of the commissioning of straightening machines. However greeting cards had a size lower than the imposed one. These cards will systematically be sent to the Libourne research centre, which will affix a red imprint.
Incidents and accidents can be due to mailing machines or to the ways used to transport mail.
The mark “TROUVÉ À LA BOÎTE” (found in mailbox) is affixed on the correspondences not deposited at the post office but which should have been done.