Unexplained usage of
McDonald Territory Private Dispatch Stamp
in 1971:


As of January 22, 2010, I have discovered the most fascinating item on an online auction site. As you know, the era in which we have previously seen usage of McDonald Territory Private Dispatch stamps was during the year 1961, as late as Christmas of that year.  I had always thought the last usage was during that year, yet we now find this example of an envelope showing a postmark of September 1, 1971, mailed to a Mrs. Max Opitz in Anthony, New Mexico, cancelled with a Noel machine cancellation which missed the stamp.  Rather than using a hand cancellation device, someone later along in the mailstream applied the 'dumb' 7-bar obliterator to deface the postage. This is an entire ten years after from the median date from which we had previously found McDonald Territory postal markings.  The envelope is not specifically notated for being a 10th Anniversary cover, nor are there any attached markings referencing that 1971 was the anniversary year.  Obviously, Arndt would have known this fact, and it is a shame he didn't specifically notate the cover as being a 10th anniversary cover. Since I have never seen a "First Day Cover" nor have I yet determined what was the first day the McDonald Territory stamps were used, I am not sure what the official "Tenth Anniversary" date would have been.  September 1 may well be the median date, and is perhaps is the date Arndt chose to mark the anniversary year.


The small label that says McDonald Terr is likely an addition from a stamp dealer post-1971 as preparation for online sale

As a long time philatelist who has sent out envelopes for postmarks from various sources, the format of the envelope makes me think that this was not personal correspondence.  It is not hand-addressed, which you would expect with personal correspondence from 1971.  Most folks didn't start using word processors to make address labels or address individual mail items until years later.  Instead it has a rubber-stamped address, such as the stamp many collectors apply to pre-stamped envelopes he intends to get back in the mail. It appears to be an envelope that Mrs. Opitz sent to someone who then applied a McDonald Territory Private Dispatch stamp, and dropped it in the mail to her.  Arndt would be the natural presumption for the one who would have had the devices and probably some leftover McDonald Territory stamps.  Based upon an enclosure found inside the envelope, I can now state for fact certain that the sender of this piece was mail was Walter R. Arndt.  This extremely late usage would have been during the year that marked the 10th Anniversary of the event and the stamps.  My theory is that a collector read something in a philatelic publication in 1971 about the 1961 event, and thought they would send a cover, seeing what might transpire.  Some philatelists reading this account may recognize her name, or perhaps used to be a fellow member of some collector's society with Mrs. Opitz?

These McDonald Territory (the round stamp and the Noel/ McDonald County with "dumb" bars) markings are identical to the markings used in 1961, so I theorize that they are one and the same.  Territorial Postmaster General Arndt obviously still had custody of the postal effects from 1961, and still had those same items in his possession in 1971, and used them once again to send out philatelic mail, perhaps as a favor to a fellow collector.  The marking that I always presumed was two separate rubber stamps is now revealed clearly as a single rubber stamp, which included wavy killer bars mimicking a machine cancellation device, in the middle.  Enclosures in this card were of different colors of the stamps, both with the Noel, Mo. / McDonald Territory and mute cancellation bars in between these two lines of wording.    

Other McDonald Territory stamps have recently been found which have the Noel/McDonald Territory marking applied in a diagonal fashion, and which do not have the mute cancellation bars.   These appear to have been off envelope and could have been intended as a souvenir or as a specimen piece.   This provides a chance for me to caution the reader against further creations of such abominations!  PLEASE DO NOT cut out such items from the envelope.  Leave it as is... apparently people in the past felt that the only item which could have possibly have been of any interest to future collectors would be the stamp itself.  This is not correct!  Collectors by far prefer complete intact envelopes (as the example you see above) complete with mailing address and postmark(s) showing when the item was mailed.  This preserves the entire postal history of the item and thus shows where it emanated from, and where it went, and perhaps where it might have stopped along the way.

I refer to these diagonal markings as the "kit markings", due to their great similarity to the rubber stamp kits which were commonly available in the early 1960's and frequently used by many businesses and agencies.  Many philatelic pieces from the 1960's used for space launches, etc. have markings made by the individuals using a kit from the same rubber stamp mass manufacturer, so I recognize the staggered spacing and irregular font placements in the standard holders provided in the kits. 

To see two such examples of the stamps bearing diagonally-placed McDonald Territorial rubberstamp markings, go here: Specimen 1   Specimen 2     Remember, collectors do not typically look for such damaged items as these cut-out pieces, but they do exist, have some value and may be encountered.     

          From 1971Arndt-OPITZ mailing

                                            Illustration of two McDonald Territory stamps with "cancellation" device
                         Enclosure is approximately 6" X 3 1/2", stamps enlarged here approximately 200%

On the back side of the stuffer card, is a handwritten notation in blue ballpoint which I can confirm as being that of Walter Arndt, based on exemplars, and is the first and only example I have seen where a participant in the original event refers to the McDonald Territory Private Dispatch as the "McDonald Territory Local Post", thereby refuting other philatelic writers' assertions that it was not a local post. 

If Arndt, the Postmaster General, referred to it as a local post, I think that ends the argument!  It also shows that the mailpiece was sent from his place of business, Arndt 's Jewelry in Noel, 64854, making it an intra-territorial mailing in the post-territorial period, probably carried from the jewelry store to the post office across the street!  Thus, we learn another fact about the McDonald Territory Private Dispatch/Local Post - it was used both pre-zip and post-zip. In 1961, the zip code system had not yet been implemented, but during the last year of use, Arndt includes the zip code in his writing, wholly appropriate for the year 1971.


                                Walter Arndt's autograph as PM, c/o Arndt's Jewelry Store, Noel Missouri 64854;
              this is written on the back side of the above stuffer card


Page last updated 23 March 2010, 0134Z

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