London (GB) & Germany (DE) The Hoster Machine cancels
From Stamps of the World
History and Development of the Hoster Machines 1882 - 1893
(Adapted from Westley)
The 'Hoster trials' started in 1882 with a duo of machines built by Newton, Wilson & Company. The initial trials were conducted in the Inland Office of the GPO until August of that year. It is believed that the development of the Hosters came from work on the Azemar Machines used as early as 1869.
Initial suggestions believed that the machines were of no better use/efficiency in cancelling post items. Westley suggests that these two machines may in fact not have been 'Hoster' machines at all although no records have survived. In the following year of 1883 it appears that the GPO met directly with Mr. Hoster following no further dealings with N W & Co. Hoster supplied a further machine for testing which again resulted in no further satisfaction to the GPO. The reasons given by the GPO were that the cancels used an unusually large die, measuring almost 5cm x 3cm. Which although giving a more than satisfactory impression on letters and obliterating the stamps. However, it again was found not to improve efficiency in the number of letters that it could cancel viz handstamping. It also appeared to be prone to missing or misplacing the cancels as they passed through the machine.
Unperturbed by this, Hoster continued with determination on his machines to improve them. By 1884 the GPO after more testing came to a approval of a machine submitted and tested at the GPO Sorting Office. The machines were of a couple of types, one is known to be foot (treadle) powered similar to later sewing machine treadles, the other was hand powered. They were capable of cancelling over 6 letters per second. Far more than possible by hand and they also envisaged that the development of a steam type would give further increases in capabilities. It also benefitted over the previous machines as it was found to miss fewer letters in the processing. It was recommended that a further 3 machines be purchased by the GPO.
The introduction of the machines appears to have been developed over the next few years with the introduction of the machines in various offices including main PO's of Bedford Street and Charing Cross as well as at the Newspaper Branch.
However the machines were short lived and would eventually be retired by 1893 with the advance and development of other more efficient and better made machines. The machine did gain some international usage, with a number of machines also found being used in Germany during the same periods.