Naughright, NJ, postmark handstamp
This postmarker was manufactured by a shop owned by Benjamin Chambers, Jr., at Lodge, Virginia. A catalog published by Chambers in the 1890s identifies this style as item 169. Three generations of Chambers family held contracts for producing steel-head postmarking handstamps for the Post Office Department between 1866 and 1931.
This postmarker was likely produced in 1882 or thereafter. Prior to that year, the Department did not supply fourth-class postmasters with letter balances, postmarking and canceling stamps, or canceling ink and pads. An act of May 5, 1882, appropriated $35,000 for issuing canceling stamps, not to exceed in value $5.00 to any one office, until the funds were exhausted.
This specimen is an excellent example of standardized postmarkers issued by the Post Office Department. After several years of increasing Congressional appropriations for supplies, in 1887 the Department began furnishing metal postmarking stamps to all offices. The use of rubber stamps was not authorized in the 1880s because the oil-based ink furnished by the Department could not be used with them.