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British Commonwealth Postal History
Shipwreck & Train Crash Mail
Unusual Postal Incidents
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1899 Morgan City shipwreck - S. S. MORGAN CITY 1899
The Morgan City was a chartered troopship that left San Francisco on 10 August 1899, carrying 724 troops for the Spanish-American war in the Philippines. The ship struck a rock off Innosimo, Japan, near Nagasaki on 4 September and the ship was beached with all crew and troops saved. The ship was a total wreck and shortly after became covered in mud, with the upper decks being carried away in a gale. The mail was recovered by divers but much of it was very badly damaged and today, less than 10 covers are known from the 200 bags of mail the ship was carrying. This cover is an ambulance cover that must have carried one of the letters on board. It was sent to Oakland, CA then forwarded on to South Bend, Indiana, and then on to Kansas City, Kansas. It has the official cachet DAMAGED mail / off S. S. Morgan City / Manila P. I., 9-30, 99, that was applied to all the mail salvaged from this wreck. Presumably the enclosed letter had been badly damaged and the Rev Stephen Wood had already returned to the U.S. This is the only known official Philippines Department of Posts ambulance cover known with this cachet. A very rare cover from this incident.
1899 Morgan City shipwreck
S. S. MORGAN CITY 1899 The Morgan City was a chartered troopship that left San Francisco on 10 August 1899, carrying 724 troops for the Spanish-American war in the Philippines. The ship struck a rock off Innosimo, Japan, near Nagasaki on 4 September and the ship was beached with all crew and troops saved. The ship was a total wreck and shortly after became covered in mud, with the upper decks being carried away in a gale. The mail was recovered by divers but much of it was very badly damaged and today, less than 10 covers are known from the 200 bags of mail the ship was carrying. This cover is an ambulance cover that must have carried one of the letters on board. It was sent to Oakland, CA then forwarded on to South Bend, Indiana, and then on to Kansas City, Kansas. It has the official cachet 'DAMAGED mail / off S. S. Morgan City / Manila P. I., 9-30, 99,' that was applied to all the mail salvaged from this wreck. Presumably the enclosed letter had been badly damaged and the Rev Stephen Wood had already returned to the U.S. This is the only known official Philippines Department of Posts ambulance cover known with this cachet. A very rare cover from this incident.
£2950.00
Reference: A3046

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1963 Flood Damaged Mail - 1963 envelope sent internally in California with a datestamp of OC 15 1963. At the lower left is a two line DAMAGED BY / FLOOD violet handstamp. The cover has been resealed by tape, mainly on the back. On October 15 1963 severe storms caused flash flooding and mudslides in Southern California. Damage was localized but extensive. An uncommon cover from these floods.
1963 Flood Damaged Mail
1963 envelope sent internally in California with a datestamp of OC 15 1963. At the lower left is a two line DAMAGED BY / FLOOD violet handstamp. The cover has been resealed by tape, mainly on the back. On October 15 1963 severe storms caused flash flooding and mudslides in Southern California. Damage was localized but extensive. An uncommon cover from these floods.
£70.00
Reference: G2783

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1972 Flood / Hurricane Damaged Mail - 1972 envelope to Ithica that has had the stamp washed off but has a SHERMAN N.Y. JUN 21 1972 datestamp. A violet straight line DAMAGED BY FLOOD cachet is on the front of the cover. Hurricane Agnes hit Florida late on June 19, before moving over Georgia and the Carolinas, where it weakened into a tropical depression. Its intensity picked up again when it moved out over the Atlantic Ocean and by the time it hit New York, it had become an extratropical cyclone. In both Pennsylvania and New York combined, about 43,594 structures were either destroyed or significantly damaged. Major flooding caused extensive damage and  parts of Corning were under more than 20 foot of water. Many other towns also suffered extensive flooding. A fine cover from this hurricane.
1972 Flood / Hurricane Damaged Mail
1972 envelope to Ithica that has had the stamp washed off but has a SHERMAN N.Y. JUN 21 1972 datestamp. A violet straight line DAMAGED BY FLOOD cachet is on the front of the cover. Hurricane Agnes hit Florida late on June 19, before moving over Georgia and the Carolinas, where it weakened into a tropical depression. It's intensity picked up again when it moved out over the Atlantic Ocean and by the time it hit New York, it had become an 'extratropical cyclone'. In both Pennsylvania and New York combined, about 43,594 structures were either destroyed or significantly damaged. Major flooding caused extensive damage and parts of Corning were under more than 20 foot of water. Many other towns also suffered extensive flooding. A fine cover from this hurricane.
£70.00
Reference: G2782

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1955 Postal Incident - Bomb on Plane - 1955 envelope to Oregon that was on United Airlines flight from New York to Oregon, with a stop in Denver, that exploded and crashed near Longmont, CO. killing all on board. The bomb was placed on board at Denver and the damaged mail received a three line cachet stating DELAYED OR DAMAGED BY / INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE / NEAR DENVER, COLORADO. The person who put the bomb on board was found a few years later and admitted to the offence. He claimed he put the bomb on board To Kill His Mother to Collect the Insurance Money on her Life!! A copy of a newspaper article relating to the bombing accompanies the cover. A fine and rare item.
1955 Postal Incident - Bomb on Plane
1955 envelope to Oregon that was on United Airlines flight from New York to Oregon, with a stop in Denver, that exploded and crashed near Longmont, CO. killing all on board. The bomb was placed on board at Denver and the damaged mail received a three line cachet stating 'DELAYED OR DAMAGED BY / INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE / NEAR DENVER, COLORADO.' The person who put the bomb on board was found a few years later and admitted to the offence. He claimed he put the bomb on board 'To Kill His Mother to Collect the Insurance Money on her Life'!! A copy of a newspaper article relating to the bombing accompanies the cover. A fine and rare item.
£600.00
Reference: G2780

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1905 U.S.A. Train Crash - 1905 U.S.A. A picture post card from Japan, burnt at the lower left corner, depicting a squadron of the Japanese Fleet proceeding to attack the enemy (Russia, as the Sino-Japanese War was in progress) The stamp has been removed – most probably washed off in the water at the crash site – but a Yokohama 29 MAY 05 datestamp is on the card. A label stating that the card was “damaged in the wreck of the “20th Century Limited train on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern R.R., that occurred at Mentor, Ohio, Wednesday June 21, 1905” has been affixed to the card and tied by part of a roller canceller. This was an incident in which “Foul Play” was involved. An inquiry stated that “The evidence points to a deliberate, malicious attempt, to derail the train.” Five crew and 14 passengers were killed after the train was derailed and fire broke out. Mail was burned and then wetted when water was used to try to extinguish the fierce fire.
1905 U.S.A. Train Crash
1905 U.S.A. A picture post card from Japan, burnt at the lower left corner, depicting a squadron of the Japanese Fleet proceeding to attack the enemy (Russia, as the Sino-Japanese War was in progress) The stamp has been removed – most probably washed off in the water at the crash site – but a Yokohama 29 MAY 05 datestamp is on the card. A label stating that the card was “damaged in the wreck of the “20th Century Limited train on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern R.R., that occurred at Mentor, Ohio, Wednesday June 21, 1905” has been affixed to the card and tied by part of a roller canceller. This was an incident in which “Foul Play” was involved. An inquiry stated that “The evidence points to a deliberate, malicious attempt, to derail the train.” Five crew and 14 passengers were killed after the train was derailed and fire broke out. Mail was burned and then wetted when water was used to try to extinguish the fierce fire.
£225.00
Reference: K2714

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1944 U.S Train crash - 1944 envelope to Vista, California, that has both fire and water damage, franked with a “Win The War” 3c cancelled BROOKLYN JAN 11 1944.  A violet two line DAMAGED BY FIRE IN TRAIN / 1. 15. 44. cachet has been applied to the front of the cover. Although a large quantity of mail is known from this train fire, it is still not known where the incident occurred, other than it was in California.
1944 U.S Train crash
1944 envelope to Vista, California, that has both fire and water damage, franked with a “Win The War” 3c cancelled BROOKLYN JAN 11 1944. A violet two line 'DAMAGED BY FIRE IN TRAIN / 1. 15. 44.' cachet has been applied to the front of the cover. Although a large quantity of mail is known from this train fire, it is still not known where the incident occurred, other than it was in California.
£95.00
Reference: G2716

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1899 Chicago shipwreck - The Pennsylvania Rail Road Ferryboat ‘Chicago’, whilst bound from Jersey City to New York, sank in the Hudson River after a collision with the steamer ‘City of Augusta’ at midnight on 30/31 October 1899. The ‘Chicago’ was subsequently raised on the 6 December. All the mail was salvaged and was delivered within a couple of days of the disaster occurring.  However, as it appeared that all the mail had been damaged by water to a greater or lesser extent and the adhesives had floated off, a label was affixed to covers by the New York Postmaster stating;
                                                                                                          
POST OFFICE, NEW YORK, N.Y.
This piece of mail was damaged
through the sinking of the Penn R.R.
ferryboat “Chicago” which occurred at
about 12.45 a.m. on October 31st 1899.                                                                                                                                 	CORNELIUS VAN COTT,                                                                                                                                                                                                 			Postmaster.

This envelope was sent from New Jersey to New York. The stamp has been washed off. This is the cover illustrated on page 104 in Maritime Disaster Mail by Hoggarth and Gwynn.
1899 'Chicago' shipwreck
The Pennsylvania Rail Road Ferryboat ‘Chicago’, whilst bound from Jersey City to New York, sank in the Hudson River after a collision with the steamer ‘City of Augusta’ at midnight on 30/31 October 1899. The ‘Chicago’ was subsequently raised on the 6 December. All the mail was salvaged and was delivered within a couple of days of the disaster occurring. However, as it appeared that all the mail had been damaged by water to a greater or lesser extent and the adhesives had floated off, a label was affixed to covers by the New York Postmaster stating; POST OFFICE, NEW YORK, N.Y. This piece of mail was damaged through the sinking of the Penn R.R. ferryboat “Chicago” which occurred at about 12.45 a.m. on October 31st 1899. CORNELIUS VAN COTT, Postmaster. This envelope was sent from New Jersey to New York. The stamp has been washed off. This is the cover illustrated on page 104 in Maritime Disaster Mail by Hoggarth and Gwynn.
£675.00
Reference: K2180

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