Collection ID: M.57

Collection context


1862-1940 and undated
The Waterbury Cancellations and Stamp Collection contains cancellations created by John W. Hill of Waterbury, Connecticut in the mid 1800s. The collection contains original cancellations on envelopes as well as in a scrapbook on stamps. Hill's cancellations are unique in that he carved a wide variety of images to use as a stamp. The collection also contains Southern New England Telephone stamps, as well as revenue stamps. Interesting to note is a photograph of one of Hill's most famous cancellation about the Andrew Johnson impeachment.
.84 Linear Feet and 1 manuscript box and 2 volumes
English .


Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Scope and Content:

The Waterbury Cancellations and Stamp Collection contains records and photographs from 1862-1940. The collection is arranged chronologically.

The collection contains stamps with cancellations done by Hill, as well as photographs of cancellations that are not physically in the collection. There is also correspondence to John W. Hill and magazine articles on the cancellations he did. The collections also contains Southern New England Telephone stamps from 1892. Interesting to note is a photograph of a cancellation titled "AJ Tombstone" done for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Biographical / Historical:

John W. Hill was born in Straitsville, Connecticut on April 13, 1834. He later moved to Waterbury, Ct with his family years later. Hill was a corporal in Company E of the Sixth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during 1861. He stayed with the infantry until 1862, being discharged for disability. However, in 1863 he reenlisted, because of his disability he was appointed as Regimental Postmaster and worked in this position for five years.

After his discharge from the service, he returned to Waterbury to work as a clerk for the Waterbury Post Office. He was appointed Postmaster in 1869 and worked in that role until 1918. His work as Postmaster gained him recognition by stamp collectors nationwide. Hill used his skill as a woodworker and creative to carve detailed and original cancellations for stamps.

In 1847 when postage stamps were introduced, Postmasters were required to cancel the stamp used on the envelope with a marking of their choice. This marking prevented the stamp from getting reused in the future. Many Postmasters took some creativity in the markings they used to cancel stamps; these markings were given the name of "fancy cancellations." The cancellations John W. Hill did in his time at the Waterbury Post Office have become some of the most priced and famous cancellations among stamp collectors. Some of the cancellations that Hill did were a fireman, inspired by firefighters from Bridgeport marching through town, an elephant, inspired by the circus coming through town, and an AJ tombstone, inspired by the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Custodial history:

This collection is largely comprised of 2 donations. The first donation of John W. Hill cancellations was donated by John P. Elton sometime between 1920 and 1940. Museum records are not complete. In 2009 Ridgeway Hall Jr. also donated John W. Hill cancellations - those are contained in the 2 volumes.

Indexed Terms

Revenue stamps
Postage stamps.
Waterbury, Connecticut


63 Prospect St
Waterbury, CT, USA
(203) 753-0381