Once a stamp was attached to a receipt or other fiscal document, it was necessary for it to be cancelled in order to prevent removal and reuse. Ordinarily a private individual or small company would achieve this simply by writing across the stamp in ink or indelible pencil to tie it to the document. A more organised business was likely to produce a cleaner result by the use of a rubber stamp or a typed wording across the stamp and document. None of these procedures would have eliminated the petty theft of stamps before actual use on the receipt.
In larger organisations, with many office staff, security was improved by having the firm’s stamps overprinted with its name, meaning it would be illegal for the stamp to be used for anything other than fiscal purpose. However, conventional printing was an additional cost, so some lesser businesses decided to carry out their own printing, usually by means of a handstamp.
On an isolated stamp it is difficult to ascertain whether a handstamp is a security endorsement or merely a cancellation. However, when there are several examples, including pairs and blocks, and the handstamp is evenly applied, level and centrally positioned, it suggests more careful work, likely to have been carried out by security staff rather than a hard-pressed cashier.
On a receipt, if there is a partial handstamp impression over the stamp but no evidence whatsoever of the remainder of the impression on the receipt itself, it is then clear that the handstamping was appied before the stamp was officially used and it can be regarded as a commercial overprint.
Some examples of handstamped overprints which may be regarded as security endorsements and can be included in a collection of commercial overprints.
A few examples of handstamped overprints on receipts.