Arago: Exhibits


X is for "X" Cancel


The “X” mark has been used in many ways both on stamps and by postal services.

X was once a common way to pen-cancel a stamp, in the days when mail processing was entirely manual.

However, the vagueness of the marking makes it unpopular with collectors, who prefer to know when and where an item was mailed.

As a Roman numeral, X appeared on the ten-cent value of the first U.S. stamp issue.

'X' cinderella stamp

"X" Cancel Cinderella Stamp

Only nine 1847 covers are known from the area located west of Arkansas that later became Indian Territory, and is now Oklahoma. Most, including this one, were sent by Lieutenant Clinton W. Lear, who was stationed at Fort Towson, from the nearby post office at Doakesville, Choctaw Nation. They were addressed to his wife, who had gone home to New Orleans when it appeared he would be sent to the Texas frontier. Because this letter weighed more than one-half ounce, it was marked 'Due 10' in addition to the 10¢ stamp.

"X" pen cancel on stamp denominated "X"

The 1847 George Washington stamp paid the ten-cent rate to send a half-ounce letter more than 300 miles. However, this letter was "overweight," requiring that an additional fee be collected from the recipient. United States, 1850.