A Little Philately Among Consenting Adults

US Post Office check for $.05 issued in Boston in 1908.

There are a few ways that philately and numismatics intersect: postal savings instruments, post office checks, stamp money, postal notes and postal money orders. Of these instruments, people are most familiar with the postal money order.

In the financial realm, a money order is a type of payment order directing a third party to pay a named payee a defined amount. Money orders were first developed in the UK. The United States Post Office adopted the money order system in the 1860s as a way to limit the amount of cash and coin carried across the country.

US Postal Money Orders were initially only payable at the post office named on the order in order to discourage theft in transit. They could also only be transferred by endorsement once or they would be deemed invalid. As the US postal money order system matured and the threat of theft in transit was reduced, money orders became could be paid at any money order post office and eventually were negotiable through banking channels.

By the 1930s, US Postal Money Orders caught the attention of philatelists. Stamp collectors who concentrated on cancellations, sought out money orders by requesting them in nominal amounts. Money orders issued by US military post offices became popular.

The money order shown above was issued aboard the cruiser USS Quincy in 1937. The payee is Alleen (misspelled Allen) O. Whipple of Alexandria, Indiana. Ms, Whipple was an avid stamp collector who made her own cachets for first day covers.

Oscar Lee Lott
Oscar Lee Lott (photo from Ancestry.com).

The remitter of the money order is Coxswain Oscar Lee Lott who was stationed on the Quincy. Lott transferred to the USS California in 1939 and was aboard the California in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He survived the Japanese attack.

Close up of the Money Order Branch (MOB) cancellation for USS Quincy.

USS Quincy, however, would not survive the war. Quincy was commissioned in 1935 and saw its first service on refugee patrols during the Spanish Civil War. She spent time with both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets prior to the war. Quincy began her wartime service in the north Atlantic before transiting the Panama Canal for the Pacific.

The USS Quincy illuminated by Japanese search lights off Savo Island.

Quincy provided support to the US Marine invasion of Guadalcanal. In the early morning of August 9, 1942, Quincy was on patrol between Florida and Savo Islands in the Solomons. Quincy and her companions, USS Astoria and USS Vincennes, were suddenly illuminated by the search lights from a column of Japanese ships. The initial Japanese salvos did considerable damage. Within an hour of first contact, Quincy sunk bow first losing 370 men. It was the first ship sunk in Iron Bottom Bay.

USS Quincy lying on Iron Bottom Sound. US Navy photograph.

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