The History of the 1936 Rhode
Island Tercentenary Stamp Issue
(Reprinted from a Rhode Island
Philatelic Society News Article)
300th Anniversary of the Settlement of Rhode Island
Issued on May 4, 1936 in Providence, RI - Scott Catalog #777
For several years, it has become apparent to me that there are various
topics relating to Rhode Island postal history that need clarification.
One such topic is the 1936 RI Tercentenary Cover. When I first started
collecting these covers, I quickly realized that a definitive book
describing all facets of this cover did not exist. Fortunately, we had in
our group the patriarch of information for the 1936 cover in the person of
Edward Michael Ryan. He knew of every variation of any 1936
cover issued and I thank him for sharing the information used in this
On April 2, 1936, the Post Office Department issued a printed
announcement of the forthcoming issue. It stated that a new stamp
would be offered on May 4, 1936 commemorating the 300th
anniversary of the founding of Rhode Island.
2, 1936 Post Office Announcement
for package of
In anticipation of this momentous issue, a
group of Rhode Island collectors and dealers decided to try and get
cancels from the 115 RI post offices that existed in 1936. The only
official first day cover cancel was the one issued in Providence dated May
4, 1936. All other covers with other town/city cancellations are
designated as unofficial. An article in Stamps publication
circa 1936 stated that RI had 109 post offices, but when counting all
offices including ship, railroad, branches, stations and military post
offices, the list grows to 115.
In addition to examples of the 115 RI post offices, there
are variations on some of these. The following examples show some of the
known variations. The Providence Post Office used four different
cancellations. There was a Universal Machine Cancel, two hand cancels - 65
mm for blocks and 22 mm for single stamps and a CDS with a three in it.
Neither Arctic or Phenix issued cancellations. However,
there exists covers from each post office canceled West Warwick, but with
Arctic and Phenix written on the back. These post
offices were not included in the master list because the hand written name could not be
considered a cancellation in the 20th century. Both of these offices were
contract stations and did not have canceling devices in 1936.
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Rhode Island Postal History
Society - Article by Thomas Greene