Custom Search

Frequently Asked Questions

US Classic Stamps

US Classic Stamps - NYFM:

You showed Banknotes with NY cancels on this web-site. What % of the existing cancels at that time is your part 1 and Part 2 covering. I would like to get started, although I don't understand the "scope" (How many cancels, how many stamps etc.), and my budget is limited. Please let me know what your suggestions are to get started, and since I can not find a price catalogue where can I visually see a collection or talk to a collector of these cancellations in my area.

That’s a tough specialty to get into, just starting out. The US Classic Stamps - NYFM cancels exist primarily on the National and Continental Bank Note Company issues, though some are occasionally found on the later American Banknote Company stamps.

The Weiss book is a gold mine of information, but I could not locate one on the internet this afternoon. Philatelic books sell out very quickly, and copies on specialty subjects are very hard to find. If you’re an APS member, you can borrow a copy from them and maybe either scan or photocopy the pages you need out of it.

I specialized in US classic stamps about 15 years ago, and unfortunately, 19th Century US has gotten very expensive since then. I don’t think I paid over $100 for any cancel in my collection, including the 24c, 30c, and 90c denominations that are shown in my web article.

These cancels are actually rare on the 1870-1880 1c, 2c, and 3c denominations. Because of the fact these cancels were only used on foreign mail, they are on the 6c – 90c, and later on the 5c, denominations mostly. The 12c – 90c denominations are prohibitively expensive these days, but the 6c – 10c denominations are still relatively affordable. Most of my cancel collection was on the 6c and 7c denominations, as those were the postal rates to Europe at the time. I just took a look out on eBay, searching on NYFM, and there were many beautiful 6c and 7c Banknotes, some with nice sharp cancels, in the $20 to $30 range. I think I paid more than that for some of my nice 6c and 7c examples back in the 1990’s. Be careful and shop around though .... there are a lot of dealers out on eBay that WAY over-charge for these postmarks on US classic stamps.

Another thing you can do is shop the eBay Banknote listings, stamp shows, and stamp shops and look for plain used Banknote issue stamps. Sometimes, dealers will just price them as used US classic stamps, without regard to the cancellation on them. I used to pick up quite a few nice NYFM cancels at very cheap prices this way.

When I collected, there were about 200 different varieties. I had maybe 40% of them. You might note that there are a lot of duplicates in the images. I didn’t care much about buying duplicate cancels, as I made my own pages ... they could always be modified to allow for new stamps. If I saw a pretty cancel, whether I had an example of it or not, I would usually buy it. Sometimes, I would even try to get one example of the same type cancel on every denomination of the particular banknote set.

All NYFM covers are very expensive. Even back in the 1990’s, a nice NYFM cover, with all the postal markings, was around $300, regardless of the denominations of the stamps used on them. Ed Hines, who does many larger shows, has a beautiful inventory of covers, but expect to pay top dollar for them!

Good luck with your collecting. If you use Vario stock pages or the like, your US classic stamps collection will always “look” complete.

US Classic Stamps - NYFM:

I received more than 100 Banknotes, 3c greens (Washington) and 2c brown, 2cts vermilion. About 20% have cancellation that look to me as NYFM (They look nice). I will get a book (I am thinking to acquire Cole’s


I have in my group: Numbers, Letters, Targets, Straight Lines, Shields, Squarish. One is blue. A couple say New York (although I don’t know if they belong to the NYFM period), and one has the date printed. One has a beautiful complex star - like in your collection (Jackson 2c vermillion).

Is this something I can build on?

I only collected the stars and geometrics. There are the other types you mention on US classic stamps -- I had a few, but they didn’t appeal to me very much.

The low values do have geometric, negative numeral, crossroads etc. fancy cancels on them, but they are not necessarily NYFM types. In many instances, multiples, say a strip of 3 of the 2c or a pair of the 3c would be used on a foreign mail letter instead of a 6c stamp. It did happen, but they are not all that common. Some of the US classic stamps geometric and crossroads cancels were NYFM cancels, but you would have to look at the cancel book to verify that. I don’t have the book anymore, so I have no way of looking them up. That’s why I put up the NYFM pages as just a “gallery”, rather than trying to describe them all. The 2c vermilion Jackson you indicate is probably a NYFM ... It may have been used with a 3c on cover to make up the rate to France or maybe with a 5c stamp to make up the rate to Germany.

I would use a recent Scott US Specialized catalog for categorizing these US classic stamps and estimating their prices. There is a premium for the NYFM cancels, though the prices are based on the Scott value of the basic used stamp. There is really no price list for NYFM cancels ... you just have to look around and get a feeling for what the specialist dealers are charging for them. There is a link on one of the NYFM pages that will take you to a nice exhibit of NYFM cancels .... that’s about all I can offer right now. .... This confusion is one of the main reasons I started this website ... there’s a lot of retailers out there, but very few sites that really offer usable information on anything!

I found the same issue, when I started collecting US #11 ... a common VF stamp catalogs $10, but the same stamp that is plated and may have some interesting plate markings on it could sell for much, much more than that. I was frustrated about that, when I first started collecting them, but it is something you just have to develop a “feel” for eventually.

On US classic stamps, you can collect fancy cancels or postmarks along with the NYFM cancels. Because they may not be NYFM canceled, doesn’t mean that the stamps aren’t equally as interesting and valuable, to yourself, as the others are. I collected fancy cancels throughout the 19th Century issues, not just the NYFM cancels.

Some of the most interesting and valuable of all US fancy cancels are actually on the 1861 and 1869 issues of US classic stamps. Of course, they are covered in yet another rare and out of print philatelic specialty book. Even with domestic post offices, the postal cancellation kits were considered expensive to some of the small town and rural postmasters, and they did not purchase them from the USPO. The postal clerks at some of these smaller country post offices would manuscript cancel the stamps or whittle a fancy design into a piece of cork and use that as a canceler instead. There are thousands of varieties of them on US classic stamps, and some are very rare, as the famous 1869 running chicken cancel, which is worth about $50,000, tied to cover.

Shields on US classic stamps are domestic cancels, but many of the nice looking ones can bring a nice premium. There are also hand crafted cancels of animals, people, farm implements ... many things. They are described in the 1851-1869 specialized cancel book though.

You can arrange your collection any way you wish, using whatever arrangement you wish, and with whatever stamps you want to utilize. The only person you need to impress is yourself, and maybe your family and friends. It’s not important what anyone else thinks.

If you use a stock book or Vario stock pages and a three ring binder, about all you will need is a pair of stamp tongs and a magnifying glass. Watermarked paper and perforation varieties don’t come into being until the 1890's, so you don’t have to worry about any of the other supplies. When you get to the point that you want to write the arrangement up as a presentation or an exhibit, then you can make your own pages (as I do), utilizing 90 pound card stock paper, a printer, and word processing software (I like Microsoft Word).

Maybe I’ll make a note to work on the Banknote Issue pages for the USA section of my website soon ... that may clear up some things for you. I have little time of late for extensive composition, so it may be a little while though.

I don’t know anyone in your area. There is a lot of activity there though. Maybe you could look for a chapter of the USPCS (United States Philatelic Classics Society) that meets in your area. They also have a web site -- -- The APS website also has resources with dealer listings and show listings. A lot of times, you can make good contacts at large shows. There used to be one, when I lived there in the late 1960’s, called COMPEX -- I think ...

Return to Frequently Asked Questions from
US Classic Stamps - FAQ