Jim Forte Postal History

(800) 594-3837 or (702) 791-6828
Fax (702) 369-9139
P.O. Box 94822 Las Vegas, NV 89193

The Process of Doing the Work

    You will receive the cover in a plastic holder with a slip of paper containing the price and notes about the cover. The notes are there to help guide your description. What follows are the steps I use to scan and describe the covers. While this is not the only way to do the work, please first familiarize yourself with this procedure before improvising your own method.

Data Entry Label

   The first step is the raw scan. Please scan the cover, but do not go through any the processes to adjust and save the scan.

    The next step is go the the database or spreadsheet and begin the data entry. This is the form you will use in a database:

ITEMNUMBER - You need to create an ITEMNUMBER for every cover. An ITEMNUMBER  always starts with the two letter abbreviation for the category. This is in capital letters. You are always given this. Next comes a two digit representation of the year of the cover, like 45 for 1945. Use leading zeros, like 09 for 1909. This is followed  by a two digit representation of the month. Use leading zeros, like 02 for February. End the ITEMNUMBER by a two digit representation of the day. Use leading zeros, like 05 for the 5th. It should look like GE441230. This system allows covers from the 20th century to appear in chronological order. To keep the order for covers from the 19th century, place an exclamation point between the two letter category and the two digits for the year. So an 1895 cover would have an item number like IT!950525. Add two exclamation points for 18th century covers, like FR!!951105. Add an X for covers dated in the 2000's like QOX010430. The ITEMNUMBER must be unique. When there are more than one cover in category with the same date, append a capital A after the date, like QJ421220A. Continue on with more letters if necessary. Skip the letters I and O to avoid confusion with the numbers 1 and 0.  If you are using a database, the program will inform you if you duplicate an existing ITEMNUMBER. If you are using a spreadsheet, you need to manually check each prospective ITEMNUMBER against the covers already in the file to avoid duplication.

Once you have the ITEMNUMBER, write it on the here:

Itemnumber on Label

DESCRIPTION - Enter the description in this space. The label with guide you through the process. In italic superscript, you will see each of the parts of the process.

Description Steps

Notes are supplied to assist you.  Follow the steps, in the order of the label. Use the postal history information supplied. Some of the syntax is supplied on the label.

DATE - Enter the date on the cover, even if you had to supply it.

COUNTY - Leave blank.

CONDITION -  Leave blank.

PRICE - Enter the price from the label.

ENTERED - Pick a date some point in the near future when you think you might finish the group of covers. It doesn't matter what date is used, so long as it later than the date the covers were received. Enter the same date for all the covers you describe in the batch. The date is used to identify your work. 

COST - In some cases you will see a coded cost on the label with the cover. It is in the form Letter Number Letter, like N28E. Ignore the letters and divide the number by 2. Enter this number, 14 in the N28E example,  in the COST field. If there is no code given, enter 20% of the price. Use whole dollars only, omit cents.

CODES - In this section, you will add a two letter code that contains the essential information about the cover. The codes table looks like this in Access:


In Excel, the Codes table is separate worksheet.

The first code is always given to you. It is the country or the place where the U.S. covers will be filed.

Between all codes, us a hyphen, like SN-FD-CN(FR).

You will need to code for the type of mail service, the additional factors and the beyond postal history factors. To see these codes, select 01 from the category field, and filter for this. You will see this:

Mail Service Codes

Codes that are not obvious will be given to you on the additional codes section of the label.

When the code is related to a different country than the cover, put the county in parenthesis after the code, like SN-FD-CN(FR). This is most commonly used with censors and auxiliary markings.

The objective is to tell the story of the cover with the codes.

Other than the first code, the order is not important, but it will be easier if you put the codes in order that tell the story of the covers.

Do not code for the destination of the cover.

BUYERI - Leave blank.

BUYERII - Leave blank.

BUYERIII - Leave blank.

BUYERIV - Leave blank.

URL - This is the name of the scan. Name the scan the ITEMNUMBER. To avoid typing errors, copy the ITEMNUMBER and paste it into the field.

This is the way the file will look in a spreadsheet:

Since it is difficult to enter the descriptions in a spreadsheet format, have the program create a form for you. In Excel, this is a command under the Data menu.

    Once you have completed filling the form in the database or spread sheet, go back to the graphics program and adjust and save the scan.

     Be certain to copy the ITEMNUMBER, paste it into the URL field and then paste into the graphics program as the name of the scan. Copying and pasting is essential to avoid typing errors.

    Before going on to the next cover, please CENTER the cover in the holder. Place the label anywhere in the holder. Eventually, a printed label will be placed on the holder like this: