IRVING P. FOX of BOSTON Mass
An Uncommon Use of a Strip of Five KGV Redheads:
The registered cover from Brisbane to the USA had the uncommon use of a strip of 5 KGV 1d redheads and a single ½d green KGV head (A.S.C. 56) to make up the 5½d rate. Although some of the stamps are partially obscured, it would appear that none have varieties and thus they could be plated from Plate 6 (56-60), Plate 7 (8-12) or Plate 8 (20-24), as described by G. R. Monk (1999) in his catalogue of the surface printed KGV 1d sideface issue.
This World War I cover was postmarked with multiple green (best seen on the reverse) REGISTERED/ 3–P 29 FE 1916/ BRISBANE and had three red OPENED BY CENSOR labels as well as a red BRISBANE registration label, but these did not suffice for the stamps also had a purple PASSED BY CENSOR marking, and there was a purple REGISTERED marking, in addition to the usual red crayon cross marking (Figure 1).
The reverse had 3 distinct postmarks: the same green REGISTERED/BRISBANE postmark as on the front, but the date was the next day: 3–P 1 MR 1916 (the leap year 29 Feb 1916 was a Tuesday, so the letter was not delayed on account of it being a weekend). There were a SAN FRANCISCO, CAL REG. DIV./ MAR/ 27/ 1916 and a BOSTON MASS/ REGISTERED/ MAR/ 31/ 1916 reception marks. There was also an incomplete backstamp from Boston (Figure 2).
Before bidding on the cover I did a preliminary search on the addressee as I felt that he warranted further research: Irving P. Fox Esq, "The Spatula", 14 Sudbury, Boston, Mass., U S.A. The meaning of the purple '96713' mark on the front still eludes me. Sudbury Street is shown on a map of Boston made by a leading cartographer, Osgood Carlton. He surveyed a plan of Boston in 1795 and his 1800 map clearly shows Sudbury Street north-east of Beacon Hill. The Mill Pond, is now completely built over. The early maps do not reproduce well, but modern maps of Boston show New Sudbury Street with part of the original Sudbury Street as an extension of the former.
Details concerning Irving P. Fox are extremely sketchy on the internet. A clue as to his identity lay in "The Spatula", featured in his address. Whereas this suggests an item used in cooking, it also connotes a thin blade for mixing ointments. Irving P. Fox was the publisher (in 1898 at Boston) of Anna Christy Fall's book titled "The Tragedy of a Widow's Third". Fox's additional publications were: "The Spatula", Spatula Publishing Company, Boston, 1894-1925, a total of 31 illustrated volumes, from October 1894 until September 1925, which was a monthly magazine for pharmacists. This is now a rare journal, for only one source in the USA was found, with no copies in the hands of Pharmacy Departments in Canadian Universities. The Spatula was subsequently merged into the "Practical Druggist". There is no evidence that Fox was a pharmacist.
In addition, Fox was author and publisher for the third (1912) and fourth (1921) editions of "One Thousand Ways and Schemes to Attract Trade. Gathered from Actual Experiences of Successful Merchants", the first with co-author B.A. Forbes and the second as sole author. Irving P. and Helen Joy Fox, his wife, were both graduates of Boston University (B.U.), Class of 1883, but several requests of the Alumni Association and the Archivist at B.U. produced no real biographical data on Fox or his wife, for the first Year Book kept at the University was that of 1886. Similarly, the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. was unable to provide biographical data. Thus I have been unable to find his middle name, his dates of birth and death.
The Fox children, a son (Fred Joy Fox) and daughter (Mrs. Archibald Crossley), donated a valuable collection to the B.U. Archives, consisting of their father's valuable collection of letters and signatures of prominent American clergymen, politicians and public figures, including Benedict Arnold, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Oliver Wendell Holmes, George Washington and Daniel Webster. Irving's interest in collecting letters written by famous people must have been influenced by his father, the Reverend Henry J. Fox, for the Boston University Collection also contains an autograph book with 72 letters presented by his father to Irving in 1890. Any assistance in filling out the details of Irving's life would be gratefully acknowledged.
This paper was published in the New South Wales Philatelist November 2004, Volume 26, Number 4, pages 28-30.