From time to time I receive inquiries from viewers of this web site who want help identifying a stamp they own. Usually I can answer them, occasionally I have to consult some expert, but now and then the item in question remains a mystery. This page is where I put the mysteries. If you can identify something shown here, or wish to contribute your own mystery, please email me -

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ITEM #2:     Blue and White label with four letters and revalued from "2" to "4"

..

This is one I own, and have been trying to identify for at least ten years.

I acquired it many years ago from Al Peterson (aka The Rail Philatelist), who knew only that he got it as part of a collection of rail-philatelic material, so assumed it had a rail connection.

Here are details, and my analysis:

Pair of self-adhesive labels "on piece." Blue on white, four letters (see below). The size of each label is about 13 mm wide by 18 mm high. Pair of 2's stricken out with horizontal blue lines, new denomination "4."

The two letters on the left are N and L - I don't think there's any question about that. The two letters on the right are tricky, though. The large one could be an R or an A. I think it's an R, but I could be wrong. The smaller letter on the right could be an E or a C. I have a slight leaning towards E, because the cross bar of the R extends beyond the leg of the R to form the cross bar of an E. But it might be a C.

Combining all of those options in all reasonable ways, I get the following sixteen letter combinations:

NLAC, NLAE, NLRC, NLRE, LNCA, LNEA, LNCR, LNER, NCLA, NCLR, NELA, NELR, LANC, LRNC, LANE, LRNE

The only one of those that means anything to me is "LNER," for " London and North Eastern Railway."

I have asked the "experts" I know (Roger Riga and Bill Weinberger), and I posted an inquiry on the web site of the "The LNER Encyclopedia - Discussion and reference site for the London and North Eastern Railway" (http://www.lner.info/).

No luck so far.

Can anyone out there help?

email the author of this website at

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ITEM #1:     EAGLE with "1997", "T375", and fake PORT WASHINGTON, NY postmark/cancel

1/15/2007 - MW wrote:
I have 6 stamps that are blue background, with a 3/4 flying eagle. the local stamp collector said they were no good, he called them a Cinderella stamp. Can you give me any info? no marking, but were canceled in NY.
My first reaction was that it was a privately printed stamp, perhaps used in connection with some local event in Port Washington, NY, but an hour of Googling and digging led nowhere, so I replied as follows:

I agree your stamp is a Cinderella, i.e. not a postage stamp, probably created as some sort of publicity for an event, but I have not seen it before, so I have sent inquiries to other sources, and will let you know what I learn.

The cancellation is probably misleading.  That could be a fake cancel, applied as part of the event it advertised, or it might be a real postal cancel, but the Postal Service didn't realize the stamp was not valid.  Real US stamps always have at least "USA" on them, to designate the country, and almost always a denomination.  There are some exceptions, but those have other things to identify them.  

The cancel does not look right, either, just the month and year.  It should have a full date, and usually the time as well.

It could also be a test stamp - still a Cinderella, but a stamp produced by a stamp printer for testing or training purposes.

I'll write again when I learn more.

I sent a copy of the image to AskPhil, and got this response:
While I cannot tell you what the item is, I can tell you it is not a postage stamp and the red marking is not a postal marking.
Nice to know he agreed with my evaluation, but nothing new there.
I wrote Roger Riga, whose encyclopedic knowledge of Cinderellas is second to none, and he replied as follows:

1/16/2007 - While I'm not absolutely positive about this, I'm pretty sure that I know the answer to your question. I believe that these cinderellas are faux stamps created to enhance the appearance of a bulk mailing to make it look important or official, e.g., like some kind of Express mail. While I don't remember if I've seen this exact stamp before, I have seen or had similar items. Note the resemblance to some of the express mail eagle stamps of a few years back. I've seen similar stamps on contest related mailings and political advertising. The pitch on the material contained therein usually stresses the need for a quick response (perhaps before you read it too closely) and the envelope might say something like Expedited Mail instead of Express Mail. This could all be confirmed if the original cover still existed, but then there wouldn't have been a question. I suspect one reason we don't see more of them is that most hit the wastebasket with most of the other junk mail. Anyway, other than the two of us, who would care anything about stamps that weren't real ? As I said, I'm not absolutely positive, but I'm confident enough to say that if I owned them, this would be how I would describe them in an offering for sale.

That made sense to me, so I Googled for companies located in Port Washington, NY, and guess what? It's the headquarters for Publisher's Clearing House!

So that's pretty conclusive to me. These are exactly what Roger guessed, fake stamps used on a Publisher's Clearing House mass mailing. Their value would be minimal, since they were used in huge quantities, so even though most were discarded, many remain. Can anyone send me an image of a PCH envelope with these stamps on it?

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Revised -- 12/11/2009