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The Early Universal Machine Cancellations

In 1910, the Canada post office ran trials in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal of a new prospective machine. All other machines in use at that time were supplied by the International Postal Supply Company. It is believed that these trial machines were made by the Universal Stamping Machine Company.

Further trials were made in 1912, and then Universal machines were rented, with a few being added each year. For each town using a Universal machine, you will find links to pages showing a complete time-line of use towards the bottom of this page. For now, we document only the period prior to July 1, 1919. On that date, the contract for International machines was dropped, and Universal machines proliferated in Canada.

[Will include some historical account of the Universal company, machine models, patents, etc. here.] The Canadian patents are shown on the Patents page. There are some preliminary notes about machine models near the bottom of the current page, below the table.

On any of the postmark images below (or on subsequent pages), clicking on the postmark will reveal a list of recorded covers. If you are logged in to the site, you will be able to view the individual covers by clicking the icon at the left of each item in the table.

Please note that we have for the most part only recorded dates of postmarks that we have seen, and in most cases, have scans of. Dates from earlier references have not been used. Numbers in parentheses after the dates identify the owner by PHSC number. Further reports (with scans if possible) would be much appreciated, and can be made to the webmaster.

1910 Trials

Toronto -~- EKU: Aug 3, LKU: Sept 1

AUG 41¢ letter to Ottawa, Traders Bank corner
AUG 58 PM2¢ letter to Napierville QC, International Stock Food corner
AUG 88 PM1¢ postcard to Claremont
AUG 88 PM2¢ letter, Copeland-Chatterson-Crain corner
AUG 1010:30 PM1¢ postcard to Woodstock

Ottawa -~- EKU: July 25 (319), LKU: Aug 19 (319)

JUL 2512 M1¢ postcard to Beech Grove
AUG 176 PM1¢ postcard to Montreal
AUG 1910 AM1¢ postcard to Montreal

Montreal -~- EKU: Aug 24, LKU: Aug 29


Montreal Station B -~- EKU: Aug 31 (1337), LKU: Sept 3 (1337)

AUG 311:30 AM1¢ postcard to Toronto
AUG 3110 PM1¢ postcard to Parkdale
SEP 312 AM1¢ postcard to Patchoque

Apparently, there were additional trials in 1912, in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Examples from Montreal and Toronto are quite scarce, while the usage in Ottawa developed into a regular rental agreement, beginning Aug. 10.

1912 Trials

Montreal -~- EKU: May 16 (319), LKU:

MAY 166 PM1¢ postal card to Cookshire

Toronto -~- EKU: May 27 (1337), LKU: Jun 6

MAY 278 PM2¢ letter to Clinton
MAY 308 PM2¢ postcard to London UK
JUN 13 PM1¢ postcard to Hastings NE
JUN 14 PM2¢ letter to Greenwood ON, Smith corner

Ottawa -~- EKU: Mar 27 (319), LKU: Apr 10

MAR 2710 PM1¢ postcard to Dunrobin QC
MAR 305 PM1¢ postcard to Ottawa
MAR 318 PM1¢ postcard to Westboro ON
APR 110 AM1¢ postcard to Lochaber Bay QC
APR 31 PM1¢ postcard to Burkes Corners QC
APR 310 PM1¢ postcard to Toronto
APR 410 AM1¢ postcard to Ottawa
APR 410 AM1¢ postcard to Melville ON
APR 410 AM1¢ postcard to Westboro ON
APR 48 PM1¢ postcard to Lochaber Bay QC
APR 510 AM2¢ postcard to Surrey, UK
APR 510 PM1¢ postcard to Renfrew ON
APR 85 PM2¢ letter to Sackville

Rental Machines

A few Universal machines then came into use in various cities across the country, with several being added each year. These were rented from the company. Below we list the known towns, along with links to pages with full details of the various Universal postmarks used. For now our listing ends June 30, 1919, which saw the end of the large International rental contract and the introduction of many new Universals in post offices nationwide, along with a few Columbia machines. The rental dates listed are taken from the detailed records included in the Reports of the Auditor General, which can be found in the Sessional Papers of the Parliament of Canada. An example excerpt is available here.

SaskatoonIIIJul 4, 1912Jul 27, 19127-line wavy, S-185, S-280, B-790, Ty 35&41 flags
Aug 10, 1912
Oct 1, 1917
Aug 19, 1912wavy, straight, Ty 25 flag,
C-915, P-115, H-605, B-790
Niagara FallsIIOct 22, 1912Apr 16, 19137-line wavy
KingstonIIOct 22, 1912Dec 13, 19127-line wavy, K-110, K-120, H-605, B-790, Ty 25 flag
BrantfordIINov 4, 1912Jun 26, 19137-line wavy, B-475, H-605, B-790, Ty 25 flag
PeterboroughIIOct 17, 1912Dec 30, 19127-line wavy
MontrealIIIJan 15, 1913Apr 14, 19137-line wavy, T-630, Ty 28 flag
Port ArthurIIJan 16, 1913Mar 6, 19137-line wavy, W-150, H-605, Ty 25 flag
Moose JawIIJan 29, 1913Apr 2, 19137-line wavy, M-390, R-25, B-790, Ty 39 flag
PictonIIApr 14, 1914 (?)Jul 13,19147-line wavy
Owen SoundIIDec 26, 1914Jul 28, 19147-line wavy, O-565, B-790
BellevilleIJan 1, 1915Oct 6, 19157-line wavy
Fort FrancesI?----Oct 26, 19157-line wavy
Portage la PrairieIIDec 15, 1915Sep 15, 19167-line wavy, C-920
Quebec (Stn B)IIOct 1, 1916Dec 15, 1917SSM-115
House of Assembly?----Sep 15, 1917SSM-135
WalkervilleIVFeb 5, 1917Jul 25, 19176-line wavy
TrentonIVMar 28, 1917Oct 2, 19186-line wavy
CollingwoodIApr 1, 1917Mar 15, 19177-line wavy
YorktonIV?----Apr 3, 19176-line wavy
Glace BayI,IVSep 1, 1917Jan 18, 19186-line wavy
Swift CurrentIV?----Sep 20, 19186-line wavy
BrockvilleIMar 3, 1919
Military Machines
Camp BordenIIAug 7, 1916Aug 6, 1916SSM-50
Valcartier CampIIAug 29, 1916Sep 7, 1916SSM-50
TorontoIIOct 1, 1916Dec 29, 1917SSM-50
Dept. of Militia?----Apr 25, 1918SSM-120
Niagara Camp?----Jul 15, 1918SSM-50

The listed machine types refer to specific rental rates, as follows: I - $80, II - $150, III - $300, IV - $105 (per annum, pro-rated as appropriate). Presumably these refer to specific models of machine, although there may also have been adjustments in rates. The names I have given these do not coincide with company model names. We hope to clarify this.

The early Universal machine models were as follows (this information is taken from US usage). The model B was available from 1910 and typically used 7 straight lines. This undoubtedly was the model used for the trials. An improved model B then used 7 wavy lines. Model C also used 7 wavy lines. Both of these machines were electric. Around 1917, Model D was introduced that used 6 wavy lines. Apparently, this is the machine labeled 'IV' in the table.


  1. Universal Stamping Machine Company
    R.W. Irwin, PHSC Journal 120, p. 53, Dec 2004.

  2. The Rapid Cancelling Machine Experimental Dies
    David F. Sessions, PHSC Journal 18, p. 11, August 1980.

  3. The Early Rapid Cancelling Machines of Canada
    David F. Sessions, Can. Phil. Soc. GB and Unitrade Press, Toronto, 1982.