Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

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Wentworth
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Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

Hello!

I thought I might create this topic for anyone, like myself, desiring some help in identifying specific Maltese Crosses and/or covers. If anyone has any that they aren’t sure about please post it here and hopefully we can get a nice little thread going!
(I could not find a similar thread so have created this one, but please let me know if one already exists!)


To start off: Here is a cover sent on the 14th May 1841, received in Oxford the next day. Can anyone identify the town cancel or Maltese cross?!!

The town cancel/date stamp (I’m not sure what to call it) has a strange flower like figure above the date.

The Maltese cross has some interesting faults (similar looking to the watton-under-edge), most clearly visible on the bottom outer edge as well as the inner diamond. Could this be dirt or damage to the obliterator?

Thank you!
Attachments
1841 cover
1841 cover
Unnamed town cancel top right
Unnamed town cancel top right
Faulty MX?
Faulty MX?

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by emason »

Hello Wentworth,

Your mx is what is usually called the London "broken points" mx, referring to the points of the diamond.

I think I have seen your 'strange flower' symbol before in connection with the City of London. Could be wrong of course.
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

Hello Emason,

Ahh, thank you!

I have tried matching the postmark, but unfortunately to no avail. It is surprisingly difficult to track down! I will post it here if I find it.

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

Here are three Maltese crosses I have struggled to identify, I wonder if anyone would recognise them?
Any suggestions are much appreciated!!

83E2B10B-4D06-4175-8F07-1036FF4B4C07.jpeg
1) It has a fat inner diamond but the outer cross is curvy so not an Irish. Could this be a Leamington? Although I really have no clue with this one.. :?

AE8157BD-5705-47BF-B401-3BAE4EF21CDC.jpeg
2) The inner diamond with long arms and heavy outer cross looks like either a Perth or Limerick?

A5CC6B34-5CFB-40E6-A428-A77E7EE2960F.jpeg
3) Any clues as to which Scottish this could be?

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by emason »

My guess is that they are all 'common' crosses.

Because the obliterators used were all 'hand' made there are bound to be differences among them, with some giving the appearance of being 'distinctive'.

I am guessing that perhaps only 1% of all crosses are truly distinctive (can be positively identified off cover), leaving 99% unidentifiable off cover.

I think the three you posted just illustrate the normal variance between common crosses.

One other factor to consider is wear and tear with usage. Over time, as an obliterator wears, the cross it produces will alter its appearance. These worn obliterator tend to produce thicker lined crosses with longer diamond points.
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by CMJ »

emason wrote:
15 Jan 2021 03:54
I am guessing that perhaps only 1% of all crosses are truly distinctive (can be positively identified off cover), leaving 99% unidentifiable off cover.
That's probably about the right percentage, Bill.

There were just over 1,700 Maltese cross obliterators of a common design issued to Post Masters in April 1840; not allowing for those larger offices receiving more than one, and some sub-offices.

There are about 25 crosses that are different enough to confidently identify on a stamp in isolation and, of course, some of the distinctive crosses are only known for short periods of time before replacement "common" crosses were issued.

Of course, that doesn't mean that 1% of stamps can be tracked back to where they were originally cancelled as most of the larger towns/cities have no consistently distinctive features on their obliterators. Even Manchester's "fishtail" was only used for about 3 months in 1841.

Chris.


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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by emason »

CMJ wrote:
15 Jan 2021 05:54
There are about 25 crosses that are different enough to confidently identify on a stamp in isolation and, of course, some of the distinctive crosses are only known for short periods of time before replacement "common" crosses were issued.

Of course, that doesn't mean that 1% of stamps can be tracked back to where they were originally cancelled as most of the larger towns/cities have no consistently distinctive features on their obliterators. Even Manchester's "fishtail" was only used for about 3 months in 1841.


Thanks Chris, a very good point, making the 1% a lot less in reality!
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

Thank you both!!!

That really puts into perspective the chance of being able to definitively identify a distinctive cross. 1700+ to 25, as well as differences due to wear and tear, human craftsmanship and replacements. Wow!
emason wrote:
15 Jan 2021 03:54
These worn obliterator tend to produce thicker lined crosses with longer diamond points.
I had previously had thoughts on the changing thicknesses, but never considered the potential for the inner diamond points to lengthen, fascinating!!! :D

Would either of you know of an article on how these distinctive crosses came to exist?

(I am wondering if crosses like the fishtail were simply issued, or if they were the result of obliterators being lost and a poor copy being made. However, I doubt this could explain the more extreme varieties like the Norwich or Alderney crosses.)

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by emason »

Wentworth wrote:
16 Jan 2021 01:43

Would either of you know of an article on how these distinctive crosses came to exist?

(I am wondering if crosses like the fishtail were simply issued, or if they were the result of obliterators being lost and a poor copy being made. However, I doubt this could explain the more extreme varieties like the Norwich or Alderney crosses.)
https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=83199&p=6993821#p6993821
Distinctive crosses
Inevitably the need arose, from time to time, for obliterators to be replaced or supplemented, and often a local craftsman was employed to provide a copy of the original. Some were good copies and others not so.

The not so good copies, while following the general pattern, introduced variations which were often unique. The Maltese cross they produced would show a constant variation from the common cross, from which the issuing post office can often be identified - if there were enough on cover examples to establish their identity initially.
Best wishes,
Bill

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

Thank you Bill!

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

I thought I would ask my question here so as not to disrupt The Maltese Cross Cancel on GB Stamps Thread

https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?p=7002826#p7002826
CMJ wrote:
10 Jan 2021 00:57
30 April 1844 was the last date of use of the Maltese cross at provincial English and Welsh Post Towns.
This cover from Swaffham to Oxford is dated May 8th 1844. Did some English towns use crosses past the 30th of April or is this a fake?
7B527C13-8A6F-43F0-8ECD-00B18B2C8898.jpeg
2A1F9E4B-3EC5-45CB-924E-7C06CAA8558B.jpeg

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by CMJ »


Although there are recorded usages of the Maltese cross after 30 April 1844 in the English provinces (i.e. not London) these are all almost all from sub Post offices. There are a couple of Post Towns currently known who did cancel mail on 1 May 1844 using the Maltese cross before they changed over to their numeral cancellation.

However, London did continue using the Maltese cross until:

16 May 1844 - for the inland office
20 May 1844 - for the district office (Two penny post)

and I believe you letter was posted in London, specifically at the "Bishopgate Without" two penny post receiving house - the red handstamp on the front indicates this.

So the Maltese cross is OK and it isn't a fake.

Chris.


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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

Thank you Chris for that extra info, and it is nice to know it’s legitimate!

Best,
Lovis

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by Wentworth »

F9A2E7D3-040F-4DBB-A63D-D33D1D0C23C1.jpeg

I think this is a Dublin type II, rather than type I, on this poorly cut 2d blue?

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Re: Help identifying GB Maltese Crosses and covers

Post by emason »

Hello Lovis,

There is a problem with identifying Dublin 'special' crosses. While SG specialised show two types, Rockoff and Jackson do not distinguish between them. Their reasoning is that there appear to be more than just two types (earlier writers have suggested four types) and distinguishing between them is problematic.

Certainly, SG's types 1 and 2 can be recognised, but many others cannot be fitted into just these two types. The main difference is the central diamond which has long points for type 1 and short points for type 2, with the type 2 diamond looking more 'square-ish'.

Left - type 1    Right - type 2
Left - type 1 Right - type 2
With its longish points, your example appears to resemble type 1 more than it does type 2.

But which type are these?
Dublin mx, type ??
Dublin mx, type ??
Best wishes,
Bill

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