Getting an antique perforator across the border
As you might be aware, I’ve been tracking online sales of antique perforating machines for nearly two years now. Based on the data I had accumulated, I recently wrote an article that appeared in the November/December issue of the Local Post Collectors Society’s publication, The Poster, titled “Antique Perforating Machines: Availability and Cost to the Modern Local Post Operator.”
My article triggered responses from a couple of other LPCS members, including Art C. of Alabama, who purchased an antique Rosback in 2004. As I learned during my own search for an antique perforator, these machines don’t turn up for sale every day, but when one does, it seems like there’s about a 50-50 chance that it will be a Rosback. In that respect, Art’s acquisition isn’t that unusual.
What I did find notable about Art’s story is that he had to go all the way to Canada to pick up the machine, and while his trip up went smoothly and he got the perforator loaded into the back of a rented SUV, getting the perforator back into the United States was more challenging than he expected due to a polite but suspicious customs official at the border crossing who had a few questions about the hulking machine in the back of the vehicle:
“At first she wanted to know what it was, and then what it was that it was supposed to perforate. Later we got on to what business I was involved in that would use such a thing. I kept trying to assure her it was not for any business but was for my hobby.
“I’m sure from her point of view this was the day she had been training for her entire career. Throughout this questioning, she was holding my passport and flipping through the pages. I had obtained the passport many years earlier but had never had an occasion to use it; there wasn’t a single mark on any of its pages.
“I guess she was wondering about many things during our conversation about the dark green device in the back of my vehicle but she eventually became satisfied that I was merely a ‘stamp collector’ and provided the first and only official stamp in my passport and wished me a pleasant trip.”
I can’t imagine too many antique perforators cross national borders when they’re sold, but Art’s account certainly does highlight something to keep in mind if you do want to buy a perforator that’s currently outside of your own country.
Art concludes his account with the following thoughts:
“My advice to anyone looking for a perforator would be to first find the one they really like, and then set about working out the details of getting it. I liked the fact that my Rosback had been in one place for many years, was well cared for, and was in perfect working order. The difficulty of getting it home was secondary to all that, and in fact resulted in a very memorable journey.”
My thanks to Art for giving me permission to share his story here.