2 November 2009

Phnom Penh Machine Cancels (I)

Postal cancellation machine was invented in the late 19th century. Since independence Cambodia had been using machine cancels introduced by les Français until 1975 when Khmer Rouge made a heavy blow and everything was smashed.

The French introduced meter stamps to the country again in 1992, however it had to wait till 1998 when non-postage bearing machine cancels made their premiere appearance. This "Machine Cancels" series is only on non-postage bearing cancels, for meter stamps please see "1992 Meter Stamps".

All illustrations are digitally colour enhanced.

Generation I

The first machine cancel appeared in 1998 on outgoing mail. It consists of a round postmark dial and five wavey killer bars to its right.

Two concentric circular lines form the edge ring of the dial, the city name Phnom Penh in Khmer and "PHNOMPENH CD CAMBODGE" in French is inside the ring. "CD" is the French acronym of "Cabine Départ", it is unclear why this acronym, which should be for outgoing registered mail only, would appear on the cancel. My guess is that unconventionally here refers to "Courrier Départ", so it only indicates the mail is outgoing.

This cancel was in service from the first half of 1998 to the end of 2004. Here is a sample of early usage:

For unknown reasons, the dial has never been in perfect round shape, and it was poorly engraved in such a way that the inner ring edge had already broken on the left when first put in use (see the above sample), it is likely a rubber dial rather than metal. The cancel worn out quickly after a few months, by August the broken edge extented from the letter "P" of Phnom Penh up to the first Khmer letter "bho". See below a sample from September:

The following is a very late use which shows the broken edge ring did not get much worse since August 1998:

Generation II

In late 1998 saw the use of a new machine cancel.

The cancel consists of a slightly rectangular dial and a long rectangular die. All inscriptions are now in English rather than French.

The sloped Khmer words in the die are "Phnom Penh" and the acronym of "Postal Centre". Underneath are "PHNOM PENH" and the country name "CAMBODIA" in English.

The date dial shows the following information in big letters, in top to bottom order: the city name "Phnom Penh", date & month abbreivation, time, year, and lastly the country name "Cambodia".

Below gives a clear sample of the die:

No variation of this cancel is found, however cancellation shift sometimes gives interesting samples. A position shift when cancelling has made the cover below bear only the dial, then a second print of the cancel left only the die with sufficient ink, resulted in a cancellation of the die and dial position swapped as seen:

(to be continued)

Click here for part II of this article: "Phnom Penh Machine Cancels (II)"

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