The REAL Bill Fry was...

Mr. William H. Fry. In 1898, he was appointed the National Organizer for the National Association of Railway Postal Clerks' Beneficiary Department. He traveled around the country encouraging clerks on Railway Post Offices to join, and also suggested establishment of a Women's Auxilliary. According to MAIL BY RAIL, by Bryant Alden Long and William J. Dennis, 1951, "...a town in Minnesota named after him ended up as 'Bull Frog'". The NARPC became the Railway Mail Association (RMA), then the National Postal Transport Association (NPTA), merged with the National Association of Post Office Clerks in 1959, which is now the American Postal Workers Union. The APWU Accident Benefit Association in Portsmouth, New Hampshire was conceived as the NARPC Beneficiary Department.

Bill Fry was born in Hahnstown, Pa., on July 7, 1834. It was on February 21, 1861, that he married Elizabeth Walker of Saratoga, Minnesota. In 1864 he enlisted in Co. K of the Fourth Minnesota and he served to the end of the Civil War under General Sherman.

He did not go into the postal service until in 1869 when he was sponsored by Senator Wilkinson of Minnesota and he ran on what was then the Winona & St. Peter until in 1872 when he transferred to the Milwaukee & St. Paul (this route was later inlcuded in the Chicago & Minneapolis RPO). In 1882 Fry transferred to the Chi & Winona (later a portion of the Chicago & St. Paul RPO) where he worked the remainder of his life. During all of that time he maintained a residence at Winona, Minnesota. He died on June 16, 1911 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery at Winona.

...and this BILL_FRY_RMA is

Frank R. Scheer, who can be reached by writing to

Obsolete Post Office Artifacts Wanted!


Postmarking handstamps are used to show the date, time, and place of mailing. In most cases, the city and state is shown between concentric circles that surround the month, date, time, and year. The "head" of the postmarker is a die with the location engraved on its face, with mortised areas in the center for removable date type. I generally seek postmarking handstamps from any country, any vintage or usage. Postmarking handstamps usually have wooden handles in combination with a steel or rubber head. Older postmarkers had wooden or brass heads, or sometimes a wood head within a brass tube. The date type may be made of steel, rubber, or type metal. The dates were changed in one of three ways: 1) by loosening a lock bolt or thumb screw and inserting/removing type from the mortised cavity in the middle of the head; 2) by unscrewing the engraved postmarker head from a socket and inserting date type from the rear into slots; and 3) turning perpetual date wheels mounted in the center of the postmarker head. A set of 12 months, 31 dates, one or more years, and other type are ordinarily stored on a wooden tray within a tin-plated steel box. The box may also include hour type, other special-use type, and tweezers. I ordinarily pay between $25 and $50 for town and city steel postmarkers with screw-on heads or with perpetual date wheels. For mortised-center steel, wood, or brass handstamps, I pay from $75 and up, depending upon style. Rubber-head postmarkers are worth much less because the rubber will eventually harden or crack, and there is no way to control this deterioration, so I only pay from $5 to $10. A complete set of steel date type in a good condition box is $25, or I will pay 5> per piece of type if there are no more than five duplicates of any single piece.


Many postmarkers also include wavy-bar or straight-line bars to deface postage stamps. In addition, there are several styles of handstamps used only to cancel postage stamps. The most common of these are concentric ovals, which may have a city and state or other lettering engraved in the middle. A second are self-inking roller cancels that have city and state names between parallel wavy lines, and a stamp with a curved face with the city and state names repeated many times, used to pre-cancel postage stamps. I pay between $5 and $20 for metal examples of these canceling handstamps, and $2 to $5 for ones with rubber imprinting surfaces.


I seek hand-driven and motorized canceling machines. In addition, I'm always interested in acquiring manufacturer catalogs, operating manuals, as well as the city and state ("ring") dies and slogan die hubs. Generally, I pay $50 for International Postal Supply, Universal, and Pitney-Bowes motorized canceling machines, and $25 for hand-driven canceling machines by these manufacturers. I pay up to $50 for Columbia and Ielfield-produced machines, and at least $100 for other manufacturer's models that are complete and operational. I will buy ring dies for $20 and up for each, depending upon type of machine it is used on. I pay $15 for wavy-bar die hubs, $20 for die hubs that name a postal station, and $25+ for slogan die hubs, such as "Pray For Peace". I will pay $75 for any die that has a flag engraved upon it that fits an American or Columbian canceling machine. Complete type sets are worth $25 to me.


I collect metal hat and breast badges worn by postal employees. Please send a photocopy or sketch of what you have available, along with your asking price.


Locks must be obsolete (i.e. pre-1900) and include the words "U.S. MAIL" (not "mail" or "R.F.D.") in what is marked on the lock, to indicate that they were issued and officially used by the Post Office Department. Mail locks from other countries will have other markings. I do not want mail locks in current use because private ownership is prohibited. I also want original keys with or without locks, except for lock box door keys. Please send a photocopy or enmail a .jpg file of what you have available, along with your asking price.


Post-mounted letter collection boxes are desired, which were used on street corners and elsewhere for deposit of mail to be picked up by the Post Office. These are marked U.S. MAIL and were made before 1955. I do not want city home delivery or rural free delivery boxes that were purchased by postal patrons for mail deliveries. Please provide a sketch of the letterbox design, the name of its manufacturer (if shown on the box), the year it was made (sometimes found on the bottom), whether it is cast iron, sheet steel, or brass, and note all defects (rust, corrosion, cracks, major dents, missing parts, etc.).


I want General Schemes for mail distribution, Schedules of Mail Trains/Routes, Post Route Maps, Railway Mail Service/Postal Transportation Service General Orders, Annual Reports of the Postmaster General, as well as books written about the history and operation of the Post Office. I do not want books about stamp collecting (philately), stamp catalogs, postage stamp albums, stamps, or covers (postmarked stamps on envelopes). I also don't collect ledgers or accounting records from post offices. Please send me the complete title, date, number of pages, and condition of any postal literature you come across. Also include your asking prices for individual items, as well as a single price for the lot.


The only postal scales I want must have all three of the following characteristics: 1) it must be made before 1900; 2) it must have the wording "Property of the P.O. Dept." or similar wording to that effect permanently marked on the body of the scale; and 3) it must not be a spring-operated scale.


I will buy any Winchester "Model 1897", Colt "Banker's Special", Smith & Wesson "Model 36/Chiefs Special", or Harrington & Richardson "Defender Special" that has factory-rolled "Prop. of P.O.Dept." or "R.M.S" markings on the backstrap or tang.


Although post cards are a sideline for me, I buy any post office-view post card if consistent with my buying prices. Please send an email to requesting my hard-copy illustrated want lists that include post card buying prices. You will need to include your name and postal mailing address (not an email address) to receive them.


There are a variety of items that were produced to commemorate Railway Post Offices between the 1870s and 1920s. One is a Rookwood mug that has a mailbag design on the side with ''RMA.'' Another example is an occupational shaving mug with a picture of a RPO car on its side. Finally, some souvenir spoons and medallions were produced as souvenirs of mail clerk conventions. Please describe any of these items that you locate in an email to me. They will be important additions to the Railway Mail Service Library collections if I am able to buy them.


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