Help & Hints to Searching the BDR Database
1. This database contains information for handstamped cancels, printed cancels and perfins on the proprietary battleships only. The database structure and contents match the book, although the source and ERA Directory reference information are not included.
2. The shorthand for the cancels is identical to the book. This is explained with examples in the "Precancel Types" section of this site.
3. Four different searches are offered, and combination searches are allowed. Wild cards ( _ for a single character and % for multiple characters) are allowed as well for all but the exact initials search. The search information is retained on the screen so you can return and add additional information to make the search more selective. Do not use " or ' marks around any information, just enter the characters.
4. The initials index used for the BDR database does not presume any knowledge on your part of the name behind the initials. This allows the collector to go directly from a stamp's cancel into the database to look for the cancel in the BDR and any known information associated with the cancel. Simply use the initials on the stamp, or convert the names on the stamp into initials to look for the stamp. Please see the "Precancel Types" section of this site for examples of the index for different cancels.
5. The initials index does an "exact" search for the characters entered and is not case sensitive. For example, searching for either "ac" or "AC" will return "AC" only, and will not return AC&BCo, ACB, ACo, ACCo or AACo. Since collectors most often have a complete set of initials to work with, this search is offered only in an exact form. If the initials cannot be completely deciphered or the cancel is so off-center that an initial is suspected to be off the stamp, then a partial search can still be done using the cancels search option instead of the exact initials search.
6. The most frequent need for search is with partial information on either the name or the cancel. The name search does just this using any fragment of a name. This is very helpful for difficult to read or incomplete cancels. A FAQ is "Where's Coca Cola in this book?" As explained in the BDR, the indexis designed to take the collector literally from the cancel directly to the information without any prior knowledge about the cancel. Most of The Coca Cola Company cancels use "THE" as the first word in the cancel "THE COCA COLA CO.", so the correct BDR index uses TCCCo (or tccco). So if you were looking for the BDR entries without any knowledge of the actual cancel and were unaware that their cancels usually start with "THE", you could simply search for the words coca, cola, or both together in either the names or cancels choices.
7. Fragment-based searches are very useful for cities as well. Information is often partial or sometimes difficult to read.
8. Avoid overly broad searches such as searching for "NEW" in the city search -- there were several hundreds of companies based in New York. The search engine limits searches to 30 hits for any particular search. Simply add more information in the other search windows.
9. You can also search for cancel format information such as date, mdy, (, ((, etc. Any of the BDR shorthands used in the description of the cancels can be searched. See the Precancel Types section of the site for ideas of shorthands that can be searched. If, for example, you are search for circular date cancels with a border and and mdy format for the date, use (%mdy for the search in the cancel choice.
Suggestions and questions are always welcome -- please e-mail me with any questions you may have.