GB - Use of heavy staples to close covers, by Graham Mark

A place to discuss items of censored mail from World War I

GB - Use of heavy staples to close covers, by Graham Mark

Postby dannmayo » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:35 am

This post grew out of a query that I sent to Graham after acquiring the cover shown in Fig. 4. I had never seen one of these before and, as Graham indicates below, such covers showing the use of staples are hard to find. If anyone can report additional examples, please send scans and/or details to Graham. Eventually all the information collected will be posted in the Bulletin.

At para 546 Farquharson wrote:”If the letter was uninteresting and unobjectionable, he [the examiner] closed the envelope with an adhesive label bearing his number. This numbering was to enable the examiner to be traced in the event of a complaint. If the safety of the contents required it two or more labels might be used, or the envelope fastened with wire staples or by strong gummed paper.”

In collecting and writing on the subject of censorship during WWI, I have not come across many covers where staples have been used to secure the item.

The cover shown in Fig.3 below is most unusual in that mail from neutral countries to which the censor objected, was normally detained rather than returned. With no evidence that the Post Office attempted to deliver this packet as addressed, it must be assumed that it was returned due to objectionable contents or the addressee, Mr W Y Pincombe at the London Teachers Association, was suspect. Looking at contemporary copies of The Times, the organisation does not appear to arouse any suspicion, but I can find no information on Mr Pincombe.

Farquharson, LtCol ASL: Report on Postal Censorship during the Great War, War Office 1920, National Archives ref DEFE1/131

Fig. 1: Registered from Birmingham, 19 October 1914 to Middleburg. Closed with three small labels (type 2) initialled OWS 25 in pencil and two staples which seem more than necessary to secure a one ounce letter. Received at Middleburg 21 October 1914.

Fig.2: From a Bank in London EC, 10 March 1917, to a Bank in Stockholm. Censor 4715 used two heavy staples, one of which caught the corner of an enclosed flimsy advice. Received at Stockholm on 31 March 1917 following a delay due to the suspension of sailings in the North Sea because of the intensification of German submarine attacks.

Fig.3: Registered from Rotterdam, 20 April 1915, paid 52½ cents, to London (10c registration plus 12½c plus 4x 7½c, for over 80 but less than 100 grammes). Received in London 22 April and Returned to Sender (label type 31A, not initialled nor numbered). Arrived back at Rotterdam 3 May 1915.

Fig.4: Double rate cover from Liverpool 2 March 1916 to Gothenburg, arrived 9 March. As with fig.2 the staple has secured to the inside of the cover a fragment of the original enclosure (courtesy Dann Mayo).
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Re: GB - Use of heavy staples to close covers, by Graham Mar

Postby jmgarcar » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:27 pm

This cover was recently auctioned

1917 (09/Dec) Registered mail from Madrid to Gibraltar.
Censor Staples.jpg

Censor Staples back.jpg

Jose M.
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Re: GB - Use of heavy staples to close covers, by Graham Mar

Postby gmark » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:27 pm

Thank you Jose
That is an interesting cover, to me particularly because it was censored in Gibraltar.
A group of censors moved from UK to Gibraltar May 1916 to examine mail passing through the Straits.
After a few months they also took over the examination of mails into and out of Gibraltar.
It shows that the censors from London took their labels, staples and presumably all their other gear with them.
Best wishes
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