THE STORY OF THE PRIVATE PERFORATION COMPANIES
SCHERMACK MAILING MACHINE COMPANY
U. S. AUTO VENDING COMPANY
Coiled stamps, whether rolled "sidewise" or "lengthwise" are attached in consecutive strips of 500 or 1,000 stamps and rolled upon a small paste-board cone (one-half inch in diameter) ready to be placed in the machine for immediate use. The perforation used is the same as the regular issue .
These stamps are put up neatly with oiled paper enclosing the rolls. Each roll is marked with the name of the employee who is responsible for the count and the whole endorsed with a printed label, of which the following is a sample. As described below and shown in the image below
A stamp Affixing Machine (for stamps rolled sideways)
A stamp Affixing Machine (for stamps rolled lengthways)
Originally the Detroit Mailing Machine Company, later the Schermack Mailing Machine Company and finally the Mailometer Company, this company made the most extensive use of coiled stamps. This was in large part due to it supplying most large Detroit firms with its machine early in its life.
Test stamp, with advertisement, for the mail-om-eter, circa 1910
Test stamps, with advertisement, for the mail-o-meter. circa 1940
SCHERMACK TYPE I
Seven Hole Punch
Found on the following stamps
1¢ 1906 imperforate green #306
The idea behind punching these seven holes, versus the Post Office's eight hole perforation was that the additional margin below and above the punched holes would strengthen the strip. However, there were problems with operation of the machine, as the device that fed the stamps could not easily enter the six holes. 70,000 of these Type I were printed by Mr A Shermack and his assistant over a period of several days at the Rose Printing Company in Detroit (still in business today), during October of 1907.
They were sold the following companies
Rogers & Van Leyen Company - 50,000.
Murphy Chair Company - 3,000.
Park, Davis & Co. - 3,000.
D. M. Ferry & Co. - 3,000.
Michigan State Telephone Co. - 3,000.
SCHERMACK TYPE II
Six Hole Punch
The Type II perforation consisted of six larger holes and was applied only in strips. This perforation was in use on the Schermack Machine in the latter part of 1907 through and up to 1909.
SCHERMACK TYPE III
The Hyphenhole Punch
This perforation (commonly known as the hyphenhole) as introduced in January, 1908, when the first tool for the production of this special perforation was made in the shop of the Schermack Mailing Machine Co., in Detroit.
Used on the following
1¢ 1906, #314
In preparing the stamps with this perforation, sixty thousand are put through the perforating machine at one time. One hundred and fifty unperforated sheets of 400 each are attached sideways and run through the machine, which perforates and strips the stamps, rolling them into coils of 3000 each sidewise. In this way they are supplied to the users of the machine at an advance over face value of 50 cents per coil of three thousand.
In Mr Schermacks own words, here is his description as to how the hypenhole perf came about;
"The hyphen-hole perforation that we now use is the final result of experimenting extending over a period of several years, trying to make a mailing machine handle the regular governmental perforations. We tried them in every possible form, singly, in strips, in sheets and in ribbon form, all with the same result, that the ordinary perforation made the stamp too weak to handle with any degree of safety or rather certainty in a machine. A perforation of some kind has been found absolutely essential in order to insure accuracy in feeding. You no doubt know that the extreme variation in the size of a sheet of four hundred stamps as they are printed is as much as five-sixteenths of an inch. This on a length of twenty stamps would of course make one sixty-fourth of an inch in each stamp, thus you can readily see how impossible it would be to feed an unperforated strip with any degree of accuracy. For after feeding but a few stamps they would cut into the design, no matter how positive a mechanical feed was used. So that while a perforation of some kind was needed the stamp must still be strong enough to handle. This led us to adopt in the first place a system of round-hole perforations in the center of the strip."
"The first ones used were of the regulation size, same as the government perforation, consisting, however, of only six or seven holes in the middle between the stamps, leaving an unperforated margin above and below to strengthen the strip. Upon finding that the openings were too small for practical use six larger sized holes were adopted."
"While this style answered the purpose very well, the round holes did not permit easy entrance of the small hardened steel fingers used in feeding. This suggested the use of slots and the so-called hyphen-hole perforation was adopted. This we find to be thoroughly practicable, and in my opinion is the beginning of its universal adoption for use in stamps to be used in mechanical devices."
The Shermack Mailing Company patented a device called the mailometer (image shown above) which was used by commercial companies. Mr Schermack left the company and the company was renamed the Mailometer company. Mr Schermack seeked to popularise a stamp vendor for druggist stores. The legacy of which can still be seen in various stores around the country. An illustration of the machine designed for the retail counter is shown below. The exterior of which is adorned with subscription advertisements.
After Mr Schermack's friendly departure from the company the Mail-om-meter was renamed to the mailometer.
Mail-o-meter Six Hole Punch - Type I
Mail-o-meter Eight Hole Punch - Type II
The Mailomcter Company made a strenuous effort to have the U. S. Government provide through the Post Office Department, stamps with the necessary perforation for use in their machines, so as to be relieved of the extra expense of special preparation which is now required. Their first submission to the post office (type I) was rejected by the Post Office Department because the holes did not extend to the edge of the design. It would have been impossible for the Bureau's perforating wheels on their machines to cut in this way.
The six hole perforation shown above is similar to the Schermack No. 2, except that the holes are larger. It can be found on
The Post Office Third Assistant Postmaster, suggested that a perforation of large holes be adopted that will extend clear across the space between the stamps. This came about and is known as the Type II, also shown above. This in turn created problems at the bureau as the machines had problems with the large holes. The standard size perf hole was adopted, and the holes spread apart to add strength to the stamp.
Mail-o-meter Eight Hole Punch - Type III
The "U. S. Automatic Vending Co." in New York employ what is known as the "Notched" roulette, and a pair is illustrated below.
Auto Vending Company Notched Roulette - Type II
Set up in 1902 the company installed their first machine (shown below) in the foyer of the Plaza Hotel, New York.
The adoption of the notched approach, versus the perforated hole approach was explained by the company president in this manner
"We like this kind of perforation for several reasons: First of all, it delivers through the machine more accurately; next, it does not disfigure the stamp when severed; third, you will find that all our stamps are perfectly centered, which is not an easy matter when you take into consideration the irregularity with which the perforated stamps are sold to the public."
Unfortunately the first stamp vending machine was not a success as someone carted it off without permission (it was stolen). The next machine was made much larger, and rather like the stand alone ATM's of today, are less easily moved. Their principle place of residence was in Hotels and Department stores.
Not enough machines were being installed to make a profit, and the president, a Mr. Coe, saw the writing on the wall when the Post Office chose to use Schermack's patented perforated hole approach for distribution in vending machines maintained by them.
Mr Coe, threw in the towel and ditched the rouletted and substituted it for seven perforated holes, whilst keeping the notches. The result of which can be seen above
Mr F. Brinkerhoff standing next to his Stamp Vendor Invention
The "U. S. Automatic Vending Co." in New York employ what is known as the "Notched" roulette, and a pair is illustrated below. This elaborate machine
Brinkerhoff Four Hole Punch - Type I
Brinkerhoff Two Hole Punch - Type II
The original design (Type I) consists of four large holes horizontally arranged between strips of stamps attached only at the tops and bottoms. This perforation was experimental in its character and quickly succeeded by the type II with just two holes. The two-hole perforation served as a feed control coming between the stamps attached in vertical strips, and is supplemented by two cuts as the stamps are fed from the vending machine.