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Webb Type Gii : SHANGHAI cds Missing Year and/or Index Letter

by Charles T. M. Chan


         Having noted several examples of Type Gii SHANGHAI cds with missing year or the index letter C and even few examples, like the below-illustrated 1901 postcard and 2c green strip of three, missing both the year and the index letter :-


          7 Feb 1903 (manuscript date 3 Feb 1903) cover to Leanington, Warwickshire, UK, franked 3 copies 1900 QV 4c carmine, cancelled Type Gii SHANGHAI cds, missing year.


Arrival backstamp : Leanington cds 

Enlarged top right corner of the cover






15 March 1901 (manuscript date 13/3/1901 at the back) postcard to Paris, France franked QV 5c blue cancelled Type Gii SHANGHAI cds, missing both the year and the index letter C.


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Certain examples on loose adhesives, including a 2c green strip of 3 with missing year and index


         After careful inspection, it should not be the effect of under-inking as the lettering of the place, month and day, outer ring of the cds would be very clear.  Thus, there would be two assertions which would result in the missing year and/or index letter :-

           (1)    the missing year and/or index letter was with intention;

           (2)    the cds was damaged causing the typeface of the year slug and/or index letter                    beyond the horizontal leveling of other letterings.

         The first assertion is not without reasoning.  Certain Treaty Ports cds had various varieties, e.g. reversed and inverted index C of Hoihow cds, year and month slugs transposed resulted in MR year for Canton star cds, reversed index B of Canton straight cds …… etc. (please refer to an article written by K. W. Lau, Hong Kong SAR Philatelic Journal No.3, September 2001, pp.20-25 for various types of varieties being found).  Those varieties were being suggested to distinguish the same cds being used by different postal officials on the same day.  Every morning before P.O. opened, postal clerks were required to collect cds from the Treaty Port P.O. postmaster in-charge, signed and struck a specimen of the cds onto a record book for reference (contemporary GPO cancellations record books are displayed at the Stamp Collecting Gallery on the ground floor, Hong Kong GPO headquarters).  Should he was sick or absent in the afternoon, another postal clerk was required to replace him.  If the branch had other cds, it would have no problem to assign another cds to the replacement clerk.  However, the supply of cds to the early Treaty Ports P.O. would be limited and it would be unavoidable to use the same cds by the replacement clerk.  In order to distinguish the works and mails handled by the two clerks using the same cds on that date, certain varieties might be necessary like reversing or inverting the index letter.  That would be one of the reasons to explain the varieties of the early cds in the Treaty Ports.  However I have the doubt for the omission of the index letter C for Shanghai as the index letter positioning could be in the following four directions : C, , , כ and therefore it would not be necessary to omit it.  Furthermore, to omit the index letter for special postal manpower arrangement would be with rationale, however to omit the year would violate the postal regulations which cause my great doubt.  The day, month and year of postmarking are important as it is the evidence of the date and time of handling the mails by post office.

         The second assertion of the damage of cds looks sound.  The base of year or index slug might have damaged after prolonged use and resulted in the mis-levelling of the year and/or index typeface.  However, there would have some doubtful points.  Everyday, postal clerk would inspect and strike a specimen onto the record book in order to ensure the cds being collected from the Treaty Port postmaster in-charge was correctly dated before attesting his signature thereon.  Should the cds be damaged either with missing index or missing year, he would require it to be repaired as postmarking with missing the year would violate the postal regulations.  By viewing those examples above illustrated, the situation of missing year seemed to be a continuous situation instead of an isolated event.  The above recorded examples including March 1901; February 1903; May, July and August of unknown year.  Prolonged damage of cds without repairing seemed to be very unusual.  Thus this assertion seems to over-simplify the then situation.

         Conclusion : The above two assertions have its merits, and equally have its doubts.  Those examples on loose adhesives would hardly to identify its usage time.  However, by reference to the cover and the postcard above-illustrated, it would be comfortable to say such situation would be around 1901 to 1903.  Shanghai was the largest trade ports in China and postal traffic was very busy.  During the turn of the century, Types G, H and I cds were in use simultaneously.  For what reason only Type G being found with missing year and/or index would be hardly to deducted, and other Treaty Ports had no such records yet.  Would it be damaged ?  Would it be used with special postal arrangement ?  An interesting and unexplored topic requires further research and studying.

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originally in Chinese language, published in China Philatelic Association Newsletter No.239, Dec 2001

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