Battleship Desk Reference (BDR)

In the years 2020-23 a team of collectors of cancels on the proprietary battleship revenue tax stamps of 1898-1902 united in a project to create a database of images of known cancels. This collaborative effort was led by Robert Mustacich, an author of the The Battleship Desk Reference ("original BDR"), created by Robert Mustacich and Anthony Giacomelli in the 1990s. The information in the original BDR was based on pharmaceutical trade directories from the years of the tax, together with the cancel collections of Anthony Giacomelli, which included the Morton Dean Joyce handstamp cancel collection, and a smaller collection belonging to Robert Mustacich.

It was beyond the scope of the 1990s effort to include more than a few rudimentary images, and this new team has created a database containing more than 15,000 different entries with cancel images, product images, and company information. The original BDR contained generic listings for the printed cancels on the proprietary battleships based on Joyce's published listing. This new BDR effort is fortunate to also include extensive coverage of the Joyce printed cancel collection. This new database can be easily perused by cancel indices (explained in the BDR choice in the menu bar). It can also be searched by any combination of cancel index, names, cities, states, cancel content, or products (explained in the BDR Search choice in the menu bar).

Six collaborators have actively contributed to this new BDR. In alphabetical order, they are: Colin Blakebrough, Malcolm Goldstein, Timothy Kohler, Robert Mustacich, Paul Reese, and Frank Sente. Robert Mustacich is the webmaster and lead editor for the project. More on our collaborators and acknowledgements can be found here: collaborators.

An article explaining the data sources, structure, and ways to use the BDR is provided here.

U.S. Revenues

This site is being expanded to include information on cancels on the documentary battleships as well as other topics pertaining to revenue stamps. These topics will appear as folders in the U. S. Revenues page. Specialty topics such as railroad cancels and double transfers are in development. Special thanks go to John Langlois of for recent contributions to the RR cancel listings. The latest addition to the site is a new index of "Wall St." cancels of stamps on document. This is mostly a 20th century database from stock and bond transaction receipts.


This site also contains a section of publications contributed by the collaborators. Besides battleship-related topics, these publications include perforation and separation analysis, perforation fingerprinting, color subtraction, and the direct digital differencing of high resolution stamp images in their entirety to show microscopic plate and printing differences, gross differences between stamps including cancels, and the relative distortion differences between individual plate impressions.