About the Machine Cancel Society

April 8, 2014

This page contains information about the Society.

Membership Application

Please consider joining us! Here is an application to join the Machine Cancel Society.

Benefits of Membership in the Society

  1. Machine Cancel Forum: Quarterly journal sent to members in January, April, July, and October with a variety of articles on all phases of machine cancel collecting.

  2. Society Auction: Presented with each issue of Forum, here is an opportunity to buy and sell choice machine cancel covers. Covers are pictured in Forum. Photocopies of lots are available. The Auction is currently headed by Don Pearson. Please refer to the Machine Cancel Society Officers Page or inside front cover of any issue of Forum for the address of the Auction Manager.

  3. Questions about a particular postmark? Study group leaders head the investigation of machine cancels in their specific field of expertise. Please refer to the Machine Cancel Society Officers and Study Group Leaders Page or inside front cover of any issue of Forum for for contact information. Have a question that does not fit into any category, or you do not know the category? The Machine Cancel Forum has a special column called "Members' Column." Place your question there by sending it to the editor. [You can also email your questions to Bob Swanson, the webmaster for the Machine Cancel Society. His email address is (in plain english): rds < at > swansongrp < dot > com. He will try to answer your question, or, failing that, send it on to an appropriate specialist.]

  4. Need more information about a particular postmark or machine? Chances are the Society has a book on it! Check the Machine Cancel Society Publications List for a listing of all current Society publications. Most of these books are loose leaf, not only to keep their prices down, but also to allow you, the reader, to decide how you wish to bind them.


The Machine Cancel Society has its roots in the Flag Cancel Society, which was founded on Flag Day in 1961. That organization published Flag Cancellations, starting in 1963. The charter of the organization and its newsletter kept the subject narrowed to flag cancels only.

By 1974, the machine collectors John W. Koontz and John R. McGee started their own privately published newsletter called the Machine Cancel Forum. This remarkable publication ran from 1974 to 1986, with over 1,980 pages of machine cancel information, contained in 130 issues.

In 1986, there was a change of name, and the Flag Cancel Society amended its charter to become the Machine Cancel Society. The name of the publication which was run for so many years by Mr. Koontz and McGee, was taken up by the newly-created organization. Now, all machines and their cancels would be covered by a single organization. To prevent confusion, the works of Mr. Koontz and McGee were designated as Series #1, while all later issues under the new Society are designated as Series #2.

The last editor of Flag Cancellations was Bart Billings, who became the first editor of the new series of Machine Cancel Forum. Remarkably, Bart was editor of the flag-only publication for about 10 years, and then added another nine as editor of the new publication. His service to the Society has helped build a great legacy for the organization.

So, in 2011, the Society became 50 years old!

Note that the Internal Revenue Service gave the Society a provisional status as a non-profit organization on September 22, 1982. In a subsequent letter dated April 30, 1985, the IRS formally recognized the Society as an "exempt" non-profit organization under 501(c)(3) of the Code, for the reason that we are an educational society of the type described in sections 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi).

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