Special Delivery from R. A. Kimble

Hotel Indiana
Ft.Wayne, Ind.

neatly typewritten in the upper left corner of a Special Delivery - Air Mail cover postmarked FORT WAYNE MAY 25 6PM 1938 IND. The cover was franked with a 1936 16 Cent Great Seal Air Mail Special Delivery stamp with Duplex cancel.

The addressee: C. Albert Perz, Room 2001, 212 West Washington St., Chicago, Ill.

Enclosed in the envelope is a type-written letter on the Hotel Indiana stationery to the addressee nicknamed Cap.  Kimble, the letter writer, was to give a talk at the Northern Indiana Philatelic Society annual exhibition and banquet at 7pm on May 26 in the hotel LaSalle in South Bend. Cap was to meet him at 6pm in South Bend by taking the South Shore line train.

The letter was dated May 25, 1938 and signed with the initials RAK.

I stumbled upon this philatelic item on eBay last year as I was browsing for hotel-related items for my collection.

Who was R.A.Kimble? Clearly he was an invited speaker to a stamp club, possibly a philatelist. If you were to Google just R.A. Kimble, the search results would not have been helpful.  However with philatelist added to the search, you would have learned that R.A. Kimble was Colonel Ralph Archibald Kimble, philatelic author and speaker, and editor of the American Philatelic Society's monthly journal American Philatelist. Kimble published his first book "How to Collect Stamps" in 1932 and had a radio show "Stamp Talk" on Chicago's WMAQ.

Who was Cap? If you Googled C Albert Perz as it was typed on the cover, the result pointed to an article in the August 1923 issue of Bell Telephone News.  Perz, known as C A P, first joined Illinois Bell on July 25, 1912. A graduate of Northwestern University, he had worked in various departments at the Illinois Bell Telephone Company, and was active in various social groups in the company, and was a frequent contributor to the company newspaper.

The address 212 West Washington St was the office address of Illinois Bell. Apparently C A P was still with the company when the letter was addressed to him in 1938.

I Googled Perz philately and the results had C A Perz listed as the author of "The World in Miniature" which appeared in the 1937 American Philatelist. Further results showed that he had also published other philatelic articles and his full name was Clarence Albert Perz.

What about Northern Indiana Philatelic Society? According to a post to Beard family genealogy site, the stamp club was founded in 1923. The South Bend-based club held meetings every second and fourth Tuesday at the Centre Township Library in recent years according to Linn's Stamp News (2010).

Hotel LaSalle was built in 1921 in downtown South Bend and operated as a hotel until 1973. The original 9-story hotel had 233 rooms plus dining rooms and stores. In 2016, the property was renovated and reopened with 67 apartments in upper floors and commercial space on the ground floor.

As for Hotel Indiana where Kimble stayed, the 7-story hotel opened in 1928 in downtown Fort Wayne and closed in 1971. However the Embassy Theatre that was part of the complex was revived and continuously renovated over the past few decades.

This was a cover of two philatelists and two hotels philatelically connected with a special delivery from the year 1938.

P.S. Did C.A.P. receive the special delivery air mail in time on May 26 in Chicago to catch the train to South Bend to join R.A.K at the annual N.I.P.S. event?

Banqiao Eki Stamp

Like JR in Japan, MRT in Taiwan also has souvenir eki stamps at select train stations.

Hilton Taipei Sinban is just a short walk from the  Banqiao Station. It's only a short 15-minute train ride from Taipei Main Station to Banqiao Station.

The new Hilton Taipei in Banqiao opened in 2018, 15 years after the original Hilton Taipei closed in 2003. The former Hilton Taipei was located directly across from the Taipei Main Station.

The new Hilton in Banqiao is also near the train station but it's about a 10-minute walk.

So my brief visit to the Hilton reception netted me a couple of newly minted hotel envelopes. I affixed the 15 NTD worth of postage for airmail rate back home to the US. I walked the envelopes back to the Banqiao station and added the station souvenir stamp before dropping them off in the mailbox just outside the station post office.

One of the covers arrived with double franking over the pair of stamps: a round postmark in Banqiao and a second machine cancel in San Francisco on October 19, 2018. The Banqiao postmark date is difficult to decipher but it is likely October 15, the same day as the envelope was dropped off in the mailbox.

This makes the fourth Hilton Hotel cover that made it back. In fact, I've been posting two from each hotel just in case one goes missing. So far it's 8 for 8.

P.S. The original Hilton Taipei became Caesar Park Hotel in 2003 and the new Hilton Taipei Banqiao property is also developed by the same Caesar Park Hotel.  As for the Hilton cover series, it is part of my Hilton Centennial philatelic celebration.

Philatelic Ingredients of the Secret Formula

Figure 1
French chemist Angelo Mariani popularized the use of coca leaves with his Vin Mariani in 1863 which was made from grape wine and coca leaves.  The coca wine wave eventually made its way across the Atlantic from Europe to North America.

Atlanta pharmacist Pemberton introduced his version of the coca wine called French Wine Coca in 1884 and promoted its medicinal properties in the Carroll Free Press newspaper ad on June 13, 1884.

Timing was unfortunate for Pemberton's French Wine Coca as voters in Atlanta and Fulton County approved a referendum for prohibition of alcohol on November 25, 1885.  Enterprising Pemberton quickly revised his go-to-market strategy and derived a new formula using coca leaves but without the wine. He further amped up the ideal brain tonic with caffeine-rich kola nut extracts.
On Saturday, May 8, 1886, his new beverage Coca-Cola was first served at Venable's Soda Fountain inside Jacob's Pharmacy, located at 2 Marietta in downtown Atlanta.

Three weeks later on May 29, 1886, Coca-Cola's first advertisement appeared in the Atlanta Journal. It read:


  The New and Popular Soda Fountain Drink, containing the properties of the wonderful Coca plant and the famous Cola nuts.  For sale by Willis Venable and Nunally & Rawson.

As the inaugural newspaper ad promoted, the ingredients of Coca-Cola included coca plant and cola (kola) nuts.

Coca (erythroxylum coca) plant is native to South America and is grown in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. 

Figure 2
In 2011, Bolivia issued a pair of medicinal plant stamps featuring la hoja de coca. The Bs. 9.00 stamp featured the coca leaf (Figure 1) while the Bs. 0.50 stamp featured products made from processed coca leaves and a hillside field of coca plants (Figure 2).

Kola nut is the fruit of cola trees native to tropical Africa. It is consumed directly for its caffeine as well as a traditional medicine to aid digestion by the natives.

Figure 3
In 1969, Rwanda issued a set of 8 African medicinal herbs and medicinal plants. The 60c-denominated stamp featured cola acuminata (Figure 3).

Nearly a century after the first Coca-Cola ad appeared in the Atlanta Journal, on February 18, 1979, reporter Charles Salter published a photo of two notebook pages containing what appeared to be the secret formula of Coca-Cola. The photo and story appeared in his Georgia Rambler column.

The original owner of the notebook was R.R. Evans, a pharmacist and friend of John Pemberton. The new owner of the book was another pharmacist named Everett Beal, a friend of the columnist Charles Salter.

In the photo, written at the top of page 188 was "Coco Cola Improved."  Interestingly, the same misspelled name but with a hyphen also appeared in the Venable's Soda Fountain ad on June 20, 1886.  The lengthy classified ad listed "Coco-cola, very healthy" between "Egg phosphate, extra good" and "Apple Cider, delightful."

The first ingredient on page 188 was F. Ext. Co which was Fluid Extract of Coca, followed by Citric Acid, Caffene Pure, Sugar, Water, Lime Juice, Ext Vanilla, Flavor, Phos acid, Cinnamon Juice, Caramel, Glycerine.

Kola nuts was listed in the second line on the right half of page 188. The lower right half had the Flavor ingredients which included 7 different oils in this order: lemon, orange, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, prunes and neroli.

A similar recipe appeared on the opposing page 189 with differing amounts for some ingredients, especially for the mixture of oils as specified for the flavor for which 2 oz was to be added to 5 gallons of syrup. Also instead of seven oils, there were only six which I list here in order of decreasing amount: lemon, orange, neroli, cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander.

According to the formula, beyond the eponymous ingredients coca and cola, lime and vanilla also appear to be key constituents. Two pints of lime juice is added to 2 1/2 gallons of aqua (water) in the syrup mixture. Lime is a green citrus fruit grown in many countries around the world. Its origin is believed to be in Southeast Asia and later transplanted to the Mediterranean region.

Figure 4
In the 1965 Fruits & Vegetables with Queen Elizabeth II series from Montserrat, Lime was featured on the 12c stamp (Figure 4). Lime cultivation and export became a major industry for this Caribbean island during the second half of the 19th century.

The formula calls for 1 fluid ounce of vanilla extract for the Coca-Cola syrup.  Vanilla is a popular food flavoring derived from the fruit of a member of the orchid family. It is a native tropical plant of Mexico and Central America but since the 19th century, vanilla has been transplanted to the islands in the Indian Ocean.

Figure 5
In the 1957 Flora and Fauna definitives from Madagascar, an illustration of the vanilla plant (vanilla planifolia) was featured on the 12F stamp (Figure 5).  While Mexico was the leading producer of vanilla during the 19th century, Madagascar had become the world's largest vanilla exporter during the 20th century.

The syrup recipe adds a hefty 30 pounds of sugar for 11 quarts of the combined water and lime juice. Sugar or sucrose is a natural sweetener sourced primarily from sugar canes.

The earliest production of sugar granules from sugarcane juice was in India and after its introduction into China and elsewhere, sugar became a popular ingredient in desserts and beverages.

Figure 6
In the 1982 agricultural product definitives from Brazil, sugar cane (saccharum officinarum) was featured on the 20.00 Cr stamp (Figure 6). Brazil has been one of the top sugar producing countries during the past 3 decades.

Figure 7
Indonesia also had a sugar cane stamp issued in the 1960 agricultural product series depicting a sugar cane plantation. The 10 Sen stamp inscription TEBU means sugarcane in Indonesian (Figure 7).

Beyond the stimulating properties of coca and kola, aka Merchandise No. 5, and the sweetness of cane sugar, caramel was added for the appearance of the beverage.  Use of manufactured caramel coloring as a food ingredient began in the 19th century in the brewing industry.

Caramel coloring is made from heating sugar.  Commercially produced caramel color is made with additional acid and alkali.  As a food additive, caramel has been assigned E150 for the color brown.  E numbers are codes of an international number system (INS) for food additives originally developed by the European Union but has since been adopted by other countries for standardized ingredient labeling.  The E number for the ingredient caramel used in Coca-Cola is E150d (E for Europe) and in other countries such as Hong Kong or New Zealand is 150d.  Caramel 150d is also known as sulfite ammonia caramel.

According to the International Technical Caramel Association (ITCA), Class IV caramel color used by Coca-Cola is described as having a very mild aroma and flavor profile, and a rich dark brown color. Its stability in acid-rich liquids makes it ideal for soft drinks.

Although Coca-Cola's secret formula had been carefully guarded by its inventor and subsequent proprietors, some of the ingredients have been controversial to say the least. The first was the notorious coca leaf which contained the psychoactive alkaloid cocaine. Although cocaine was not illegal at the time, the public was becoming critical of its use as it was a catalyst for misguided public safety concern and racial prejudice towards the end of the 1890s.

On June 13, 1898, United States Congress approved a special tax for the Spanish American War effort on a variety of goods including medicinal tonics which included the 12-year-old Coca-Cola. The new proprietor of Coca-Cola, Asa G. Candler, who had purchased the rights to Pemberton's recipe in 1891, challenged the Internal Revenue Service that his product was a soda fountain syrup and not a medicine in a 1901 pamphlet WHAT IS IT? Coca-Cola WHAT IT IS.

Figure 8
The Coca-Cola Co. had paid taxes for the syrup it produced from 1898 to 1901 under the War Revenue Act. Revenue stamps were used to show that taxes had been paid for Coca-Cola as medicine. An example was the 5 cent proprietary revenue stamp cancelled with the company hand stamp and the date of July 11, 1899 (Figure 8). This proprietary1898 issue featured the USS Olympia, a cruiser that participated in the Spanish-American War.

As his marketing pitch for Coca-Cola pivoted towards an everyday beverage, Candler was well aware of the expanding public concern of its link to the cocaine controversy. He began to decocainize the coca leaves in an attempt to disassociate the drink from the narcotic.

Candler's legal battle with the government continued after the 1901 IRS lawsuit. Chemist Harvey W. Wiley was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to oversee the administration of the 1906 Pure Food & Drug Act.  Wiley firmly believed that caffeine consumption was harmful for public health. He ordered the seizure of a Coca-Cola shipment in 1909 for investigation which led to a federal court case. However, Wiley failed in his attempt to decaffeinate Coca-Cola, but seven decades later, consumer demand and the longtime cola war archrival successfully compelled the launch of Caffeine Free Coca-Cola in 1983.

Another controversial ingredient was glycerine or glycerol.  This ingredient appeared in the Beal notebook, the court case of United States v. Forty Barrels & Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, and the article Beyond Seltzer Water: The Kashering of Coca-Cola written by Michael Feldberg for the American Jewish Historical Society in 2013.

Feldberg recounted the story of Rabbi Tobias Geffen of Atlanta who investigated the ingredients of Coca-Cola in 1935 to determine if the beverage was kosher for passover. Rabbi Geffen learned from The Coca-Cola Company that glycerin was an ingredient in the secret formula which he code-named "Moris." It was "a liquid made from meat and fat tallow of non-kosher animals - an item which Jews are forbidden to eat and drink." To resolve this issue, he recommended that "'M' be prepared from plant oil such as that made from coconut, cottonseed oil, and other plants. 'M' made from any of these plants are kosher to drink."

The second problematic ingredient was alcohol which the Rabbi obfuscated as "Anigron." He explained that "'A' is made from chametz since any amount of chametz in a mixture prohibits its use on Passover. It is expressly forbidden to drink Coca Cola on this holiday." Thanks to Rabbi Geffen, he also suggested a solution which was to "prepare 'A' not from grain kernels, but instead from sugar beets or sugar cane."

Rabbi Geffen happily concluded by thanking God in the Teshuvah Concerning Coca-Cola that "the officials at the factory began to only use glycerin prepared from cottonseed oil and during Passover season, they utilized alcohol made from sugar cane."

Toda to Feldberg for deciphering the two coded ingredients: moris = glycerin and anigron = alcohol.

Figure 9
Even more spellbinding is the special flavoring known as Merchandise 7X. The magic formula of Coca-Cola contains a mixture of essential oils. According to the formula in Beal's notebook, only 2 ounces of this elixir is added to a 5-gallon mixture - literally just a few drops in the kettle.

The flavoring recipe:

Alcohol 8 oz
Oil orange 20 drops
. Lemon 30 .
. Nutmeg 10 .
. Coriander 5 .
. Neroli 10 .
. Cinnamon 10 .
use 2 oz flavor to 5 Gals Syrup

Essential oils are concentrated liquids derived from plants. Orange and lemon oils are both essential oils produced from the rind of their respective peels. Neroli oil is produced from the blossom of bitter orange trees (citrus aurantium). These three essential oils account for 70% of the flavoring mixture.

Figure 10
The 1962 Montserrat definitive series included a 20c stamp featuring the orange with its fruits, blossoms and leaves (Figure 9).

Figure 11
Northern Cyprus issued a set of fruit stamps in 1976. The 60M stamp featured oranges (citrus sinensis) (Figure 10) and the 80M stamp featured lemons (citrus limon) (Figure 11).

The other 30% of the secret flavoring are from herbs and spices.

Cinnamon is a popular spice used for cooking. Cinnamon essential oil is made from the bark of cinnamon trees. Indonesia and China produce over 80% of the world's cinnamon today.

Coriander is an aromatic herb. Coriander essential oil is made from its leaves and seeds.

Figure 12
In 2009, India issued a Spices of India mini sheet of 5 stamps which included cinnamon on the 5.00R stamp (Figure 12) and coriander on the 20.00R stamp (Figure 13).

Figure 13
Nutmeg is the seed of the fragrant nutmeg tree. It is used for cooking as well as a herbal medicine. Nutmeg essential oil is made from ground nutmeg. Top producing countries include Guatemala, Indonesia and India.

St Vincent issued a set of 6 Herbs & Spices stamps in 1985. Nutmeg (myristica fragrans) was depicted in the $1 stamp (Figure 14).

Figure 14
While most of the world continued to use cane sugar for Coca-Cola, the syrup manufactured in the United States began switching to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in 1980. HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch.

In 1982, Mexico issued a 1.60P Mexican Flora stamp featuring corn or maiz (zea mays) (Figure 15). 

Figure 15
The Coca-Cola Company introduced a short-lived New Coke in 1985 with a sweeter formulation. 1-800-GET-COKE got flooded with angry consumers demanding their original Coke and soon the old formula was resurrected as Coca-Cola Classic. However both Cokes were sweetened with HFCS. Sugar was no longer part of the formula except for seasonal releases of Kosher Coke in limited U.S. markets.

Fortunately, Coca-Cola hecho en Mexico is still made with azucar and Mexican Coke is widely available in the US as it is now being imported from south of the border in both 355ml and 500ml glass bottles.

The Coca-Cola Company and Cargill jointly developed a new plant-derived sweetener and launched the stevia-based sugar substitute under the Truvia brand in New York City in 2008. Sprite Green was the first Coca-Cola product to use stevia. Stevia-sweetened Sprite Green also made its debut in the Big Apple a few months after Truvia.

The sweetener is extracted from the leaves of stevia whose chemical compound is steviol glycoside.  Although not as sweet as cane sugar, stevia has fewer calories than cane sugar of equivalent sweetness.  The perennial plant stevia rebaudiana is native to Paraguay and Brazil.  The common name for stevia is candyleaf or sweetleaf.  

Figure 16
In 2009, Paraguay issued a 5.000G Mercosur Export Products stamp featuring stevia (Figure 16).  The indigenous Guarani people of Paraguay called the sugarleaf plant ka'a he'e.

Stevia-sweetened Coca-Cola Life was first introduced in Argentina in 2013 and arrived in the United States the following year. Similar to Sprite Green, green became the motif for Coca-Cola Life. Coca-Cola Life was sweetened with a blend of stevia and cane sugar providing consumers with a reduced-calorie Coke.

In 2017, Coca-Cola Australia introduced a reformulation of Coca-Cola Life and rebranded it as Coca-Cola with Stevia. Prior Coca-Cola Life had 35% less sugar than regular Coke Down Under. The new Coca-Cola with Stevia had 50% less sugar than regular Aussie Coke. In 2018, Coca-Cola New Zealand took it a step further and rebranded the green Coke as Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar. The Kiwi Coke formulation had moved to 100% Stevia.

Coca-Cola Life formula and brand name continued to be tweaked back across the Pacific. In 2019, Coca-Cola Canada introduced Coca-Cola Stevia in 500ml plastic bottles. The latest North American formulation also used 100% steviol glycoside (E960) as its sweetener. However, the Maple Leaf Coke formulation with stevia had no cane sugar but added two new food acids.

In addition to the phosphoric acid (E338) in the original formula, citric acid (E330) and malic acid (E296) are in Coca-Cola Stevia.  Furthermore, Coca-Cola Stevia as well as Coca-Cola Life have added potassium benzoate (E212) as a preservative.

Please note that the original Coca-Cola formula did not include a preservative, but that's Life. Just like New Coke, whether you like it or not, you decide. 

P.S. I hope you enjoyed the philatelic tour of the secret formula. Happy 134th Birthday Coca-Cola!

Fortress Island in Tokyo Bay

Once built as an island fortress for Tokyo in the 19th century, Odaiba is a popular shopping and entertainment destination in the 21st century.  My first visit to this man-made island was to see the newly opened World of Coca-Cola Tokyo in the AQUA CiTY Mediage.  The large retail store on the 6th floor was filled with hundreds of Coca-Cola licensed merchandise guarded by a 10-foot tall Polar Bear with a bottle of Coke.  Visitors can also order refreshments from the bar while shopping or enjoying the view of the Rainbow Bridge over Tokyo Bay.

During my last trip to Tokyo, I made my pilgrimage back to Odaiba to pick up some limited edition Coke bottles.  The World of Coca-Cola has since closed and moved to a smaller location inside AQUA CiTY mall on the 3rd floor.  Across from the mall was the 12th Hilton property in Japan which opened in 2015.  Before taking the Yurikamome back to Shinjuku, I stopped by the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba and asked for an envelope.

Since I had to transfer in Shimbashi for JR back to Shinjuku, I picked up the Shimbashi eki stamp for the Hilton envelope and affixed a crested ibis and Japanese primrose which I picked up the day before.  It didn't take long before I found a pair of large red mailbox outside the station for me to send my third Hilton cover back home.

P.S. My previous Hilton cover had Shinjuku postmarks that complemented the Shinjuku eki stamp.  However, the cover I mailed outside Shimbashi eki ended up with a Ginza postmark.  I checked Google Map and the nearby Ginza post office appears to be a larger post office than the Shinbashi post office.

Shinjuku Eki Stamp

As noted in the Hilton Centennial post, my first Hilton hotel cover was mailed in Los Angeles.  My next Hilton cover was mailed in Shinjuku.  Since I had more time in Tokyo, I wanted to decorate my Hilton envelope with something local and interesting.

Just two blocks away from the Shinjuku Hilton was the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building.  I took the elevator to the observation deck on the 45th floor on a cloudy and rainy day but I was even more disappointed that the souvenir rubber stamps were well used and couldn't create a good impression on paper.

So I headed to the Shinjuku train station to look for the Eki Stamp.  Inside the JR Ticket Office (Midori no Madoguchi) by the South Exit, I found the Shinjuku Eki Stamp which featured the old Shinjuku Depot and according to the poster on the wall behind the self-service rubber stamp and ink pad, there were 77 different JR Station Stamp designs in Tokyo.

Although the Shinjuku Post Office is open 9-9 everyday, by the time I got there, it had already closed.   I ambled back to the Hilton and was able to get a nice assortment of postage stamps from the concierge at face value,   unlike the the gift shop at Hilton LAX wanted a hefty mark-up.

Airmail rate from Japan to USA for standard-sized letters was 110 Yen for up to 25 grams.   I licked two snow monkeys, two crested ibises, two kitakitsune (ezo red foxes) and one sika deer to make up the 110 Yen rate.

When I returned home, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my Hilton corner card adorned with an emerald eki stamp received 3 neatly placed postmarks by hand as well as an azul AIR MAIL hand stamp.

Coincidentally, the Tokyo cover and the LAX cover both had the same postmark date.

P.S. Although the Shinjuku Post Office at 1-8-8 Nishi-Shinjuku is open 9am-9pm every day, the commemorative stamp vending counter is open 9am-7pm Monday-Friday, 11am-4pm Saturday, Sunday and Holidays. Shinjuku Post Office is only a 5-minute walk from the West Exit of the Shinjuku Station.