Philatelic Society of Lancaster County

The James Buchanan Chapter #173 of the American Philatelic Society
Chapter 118 of the American Topical Association

Exhibit: Analysis of New York City “APL” Postmarks on Transatlantic Stampless Letters to Foreign Destinations, by Dr. Charles J. DiComo

The Uncommon Use of “APL” for APRIL in lieu of “APR”.

Introduction Numerous students of philately have extensively written about the cancellations and postmarks of New York City. A work relevant to this present study is that by Hubert Skinner (Philatelic Foundation Seminar Series #3, pp. 79-107). In his treatise, Skinner extensively and expertly discusses and describes the uses and postal history of cancellations and postmarks of NYC during the 1845 – 1876 periods. Importantly, a classification scheme incorporating code letters and numbers was introduced, denoting the type of marking, the year first recorded, and a serial number for that particular cancel – referred to as NYDM 52-3.

This marking was one of many used on domestic intercity letters. It is found in black and given the code NYDM 52-3, where the “NYDM” denotes “New York Domestic Mail”, the “52” denotes “first seen in 1852”, and the “3” denotes “type three”. So why revisit this cancel? First, the most compelling characteristic of this cancel is the usage of “APL” to abbreviate the month of April. Traditionally, April has most often been seen abbreviated prior to, during, and after the 1851-57 period by the three letters “APR”. Second, some recently discovered “APL” covers and numerous re-examined “APL” singles demonstrate that the NYDM 52-3 cancel had a much broader period of use that once thought, being found on covers from the Stampless, Carriers, Locals, & 1847 Periods. Finally, I will present evidence that more than one “type” or “subtype” of canceling device was used to create the New York “APL” postmark.

My years of searching have turned up over 150 folded letters, covers and/or stamps with the red or black “APL” circular date stamp. These are dated from 1834 up to and including 1855, a 21 year span of use. The red ink was predominant on Stampless and stamped letters up to 1851. Then starting in 1852 and continuing through to 1855, black ink was used for this NYC “APL” postmark. This exhibit analyzes the NYC “APL” postmarks on transatlantic stampless letters to foreign destinations.

Exhibit as a PDF

Analysis of NYC “APL” Postmarks on Transatlantic Stampless Letters to Foreign Destinations

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