Battleship Desk Reference

The Battleship Desk Reference (BDR) is a large compilation of printed and hand stamped cancels on the 1898 proprietary revenue stamps indexed alphabetically by the cancels. A shorthand was developed for the BDR to describe cancel types. This is described in the BDR and also in the U.S. Revenue Stamps section of this site in the References folder. Included in the book is a 50 page introduction explaining the taxation by product, rulings with respect to different products, and an overview of trends in American medicine related to these stamps. The book is bound in a tough, reference quality, sewn binding so it can be repeatedly opened and lie flat. The BDR is currently available from Eric Jackson. Please check his philatelic catalog listings.

Previous studies of cancels on proprietary battleship stamps focused on printed cancellations, a small part of the universe of cancellations on these stamps. Further, available lists were organized usually by the last name of the user, so if this information is not obvious, the lists can be difficult to access. This is especially true when the database is expanded greatly to include handstamp cancels. For example, to find the cancel "A. C. M. & CO." in prior cancel lists a good guess would be to start perusing the M's looking for first initials A. C. But if the initials are for a compound name or some other information, then this will be more difficult. A direct and unambiguous approach is to have an index based literally on the cancel so that all cancels map simply and directly to an alphabetical database. In this way, any and all cancels can be quickly located in the database without requiring any knowledge of the proprietor. While most cancels are already acronyms of the user, when names or other information are contained in a cancel, these are simply converted to acronyms. For example, the cancel "THE COCA COLA CO." would be indexed as TCCo, where "Co" is used with acroynms as a reference to company in its many forms:"Company", "Co.", or "CO." In this way it is very easy to proceed literally from any cancel in hand into the database.

The sample pages are the first two pages in the BDR. The index to the database is titled "Initials" in the first column. PG and S columns refer to page number in the source S. Sources are druggist trade directories and lists of printed cancellations, for example. These are referenced in the BDR. H indicates hand stamp cancel while P indicated printed cancel. Note that the database includes all of the known manufacturers from the trade directories, and many of these do not have cancels that have been associated with them. Likewise, there are many cancels for which corresponding trade directory information is absent or not correlated. Please note that your browser may not support the typographic font used for the fractional stamp denominations in the headings for the last several columns.