My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Waterbury Fancy Cancel to Wolcott Town Clerk

This cover, which I won in an eBay auction is very interesting to me for a number of reasons.

It was addressed to Henry Minor, Esq. in Wolcott, Conn., who was the Town Clerk of Wolcott for 27 years. (I have called Wolcott my home for the past 31 years.)

The cover was postmarked on September 13, 1862, in Waterbury, Conn. (Waterbury was where I was born, raised and lived for the first 32 years of my life.)

The cover has a "fancy cancel."

"A fancy cancel is a postal cancellation that includes an artistic design. Although the term may be used of modern machine cancellations that include artwork, it primarily refers to the designs carved in cork and used in 19th century post offices of the United States.

"When postage stamps were introduced in the US in 1847, postmasters were required to deface them to prevent reuse, but it was left up to them to decide exactly how to do this, and not infrequently clerks would use whatever was at hand, including pens and 'PAID' handstamps left over from the pre-stamp era.

"A number of offices began to use cork bottle stoppers dipped in ink. These worked well, but would tend to blot out the entire stamp making it difficult to check the denomination, and so clerks began to carve a groove across the middle of the cork, making two semicircles. Further enhancements included two grooves cut crosswise (the four-piece 'country pie'), and then two more, for the eight-segment "city pie", and notches cut out of the outer edge to lighten the cancel further.

"The carving process seems to have sparked the creativity of clerks across the country, and soon thousands of designs appeared, ranging from shields to skulls to stars, geometrical shapes, animals, plants, and devils with pitchforks. Among the most common fancy cancel designs are stars and crosses of varying designs. The Waterbury, Connecticut post office was the master of the practice, and turned out new cancels for every holiday and special occasion. Their 'Waterbury Running Chicken' cancel, perhaps a turkey since it appeared close to Thanksgiving of 1869, was in use for only a few days and is now the most prized of all 19th century cancels, with covers fetching very high prices.

"The era of fancy cancels came to an end in the 1890s, when the Post Office Department issued new regulations standardizing the form of cancellations." (from Wikipedia)

For a webpage full of Waterbury fancy cancels, see

Friday, August 15, 2014

ARRL/TAPR DCC: Only 3 Weeks Away

The 2014 installment of the ARRL/TAPR DCC is only three weeks away, on Friday, September 5th through Sunday, September 7th at the Austin Marriott South in Austin, Texas.

The DCC has two days of technical forums on Friday and Saturday and a concurrent introductory forum on Saturday. On Saturday night, the banquet will feature an interesting speaker and the Sunday morning seminar is "Introduction to SoC FPGA Programming for Mixed Signal Systems" by Chris Testa, KD2BMH.

There will be free tables in the demo room to demonstrate projects and vendors to demonstrate products.

Time is running out, so those interested in attending should register for the DCC and make hotel reservations ASAP.

More DCC information is available on TAPR’s website.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I logged FCC

Last night, 145.39 MHz was wide open according to this, so I cranked up the FM broadcast band radio to see what I could hear and I logged three new stations!

WFCC (love that call sign!) playing classical music on 107.5 MHz, put in an S0 to S1 here with its powerhouse 50 kW transmitting from Chatham on Cape Cod, 152 miles east.

WFHN on 107.1 MHz was S1 transmitting 5,400 watts from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, 105 miles east.

WDBY, "Kicks 1055" on 105.5 MHz with a country and western format was S0 to S1 with a mere 900 watts from Patterson, New York, 37 miles west southwest.

Radio equipment here was my C.Crane CC Radio 2E Enhanced and its stock whip antenna.

Speaking of VHF DX, the photo above is I and another long-time VHF DXer, Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, at the ARRL Centennial Convention in Hartford last month. Besides chasing Es, Dave runs the show up at 225 Main Street in Newington.