Welcome to the 98th entry of Postal History Sunday, featured weekly on the Genuine Faux Farm blog and the GFF Postal History blog. If you take this link, you can view every edition of Postal History Sunday, starting with this one (the most recent always shows up at the top).
As many of you might guess, there are weeks when I find that I lack the energy to attack some of the more complex topics I have in my "to write about list." In fact, I have had several weeks in a row where my energies and attentions have been focused everywhere but postal history. Up to this point, I have been able to work on older drafts of things that needed refinement or additions so they could be put out as Postal History Sunday. Well, nothing is sitting in my batch of "blogs being worked on" that looks like it can fairly easily be made into something I am willing to share without a fair amount of effort.
What to do?
when I have trouble getting going, I just pick an item and start to
write about it - following my stream of consciousness (as long as the
stream stays somewhere in the postal history realm). Let's see how it
works out this week, shall we?
Let's start with this folded business letter sent from Geneve, Switzerland to Rome (Papal States) in 1866. The postage stamps applied total 70 centimes in postage to pay for the postal service between the two locations. If you look carefully, you will notice a "PD" marking put on the envelope by the Swiss Postal Service indicating that the postage was fully paid to the destination. In addition to that, you might notice what looks like a stray slash in black ink that goes across the center of the address. This was applied by the clerk in Rome who agreed that the postage was paid and no more was needed from the recipient.
I'd like to compare it now to the 1868 folded business letter shown below:
This letter was ALSO sent from Geneve, Switzerland to Rome, but there are several differences. First, the postage applied on this cover is only 35 centimes (instead of 60 centimes). There is no "PD" marking. Instead, there is a marking that reads "P.P." marking that tells the Rome post office that postage was only paid to the Papal border. The clerk in Rome scrawled a "20" to alert the carrier that they should collect 20 centesimi from the recipient at delivery to pay the postage for postal services in the Papal territory.
So, what's the
difference? They both started the same place and went to the same
destination. They were mailed within two years of each other, so it
makes sense that they might fall under some of the same postal
Maybe you have already spotted it, but here is the difference that resulted in different postage requirements:
first cover was sent via Marseille, France. From there it took a
coastal steamship to Civitavecchia, the port city that provided Rome
access to the Mediterranean Sea - or, more accurately - the Tyrrhenian
Sea, which is a subdivision of the Mediterranean.
The second cover was sent via Florence, then part of the Kingdom of Italy. This letter was sent overland, using rail services for much, and perhaps all, of its journey.
The map below can provide you with a
visual so you can get an idea as to where things are if you don't walk
around with a mental image of southern Europe in your head (click
on the image to see a larger version if you would like).
The first letter (via Marseille) was sent from Switzerland via France and then to Rome in the Papal Territories. Postal agreements existed between France and the Papal States and France and Switzerland, making it possible for a person to prepay all of the required postage to send a letter to its destination.
The second letter was sent via the Kingdom of Italy, and it was here that there was a problem. The Pope refused to recognize the Kingdom of Italy, which meant the Papal postal system was not able to execute a postal convention for mail that went to, from, or through the rest of Italy. Because the Swiss and the Italians had an agreement, a person could pay for that portion of the trip. But, the Papal postal system was going to handle their own postage, thank you very much.
The first letter that went via the French mail and by steamer took five days to get to Rome. The overland route only took three days. So, there was reason for people to want to use the speedier service, even if it was a bit more complicated when it came to paying for things.
For those looking for details on rates (and if you aren't, feel free to skip):
Paid to Destination via Marseille
70 centimes per 7.5 grams : Oct 1, 1865 - Dec 31, 1870
Paid to Papal border via Florence
35 centimes per 10 grams : Jul 1, 1862 - Oct 26, 1870
Postage due Papal Post
20 centesimi per 7.5 grams: Sep 21, 1867 - Oct 26, 1870
The idea that postage rates could be different depending on the route and the postal services that were required to get the mail to its destination made me think about the next two items.
The letter shown above was mailed in San Francisco on March 30 of 1867 and was destined for Stockholm, Sweden. The total postage on this letter is represented by 68 cents in US postage stamps. You might notice the word "FRANCO" in two locations that indicated that this was recognized as being fully prepaid. Also, the red, circular marking was applied in New York and it also indicates that the item was "Paid."
And here is an 1862 letter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Stockholm, Sweden. Once again, there is a red, circular New York marking indicating that the letter is paid and the word "FRANCO" can be found just to the right of that marking. In this case, there are 34 cents in postage stamps and an additional 3 cents with the preprinted postage that was on the envelope (at the top right).
So, one cover has 68
cents in postage and the other has 37 cents in postage. Both were paid
to their destination with no additional postage due. Once again, part
of the explanation for the different amounts has to do with how each
item traveled to get to its destination (Stockholm in this case).
The easiest piece of evidence to spot on the first cover is this blue box that reads "Aachen 7 5 Franco." Aachen was located at the border of Belgium and Prussia (also known as Aix la Chapelle). This was they typical entry point for mail from the United States that was to go through the Prussian Mail system.
The "7 5," is simply the date - May 7 and "franco" indicates that the letter was recognized as having had its postage properly paid.
And above is a rough depiction of the route the first letter took to get to Stockholm. The letter would cross Belgium and enter Prussia at Aachen. From there I believe it went via Hamburg on its way to Kiel, which was the preferred route during the colder months. This letter entered Europe in early May, so it is possible the Winter route was still in use.
However, let me be perfectly clear here. The envelope itself
only provides me with markings for Aachen on May 7 and Stockholm on May
12. At this point, I cannot say that I am perfectly certain that the
route between those two points is accurate with complete certainty.
But, I can tell you that this Winter route was often used for the mail
from the US via Prussia to Sweden.
The second cover bears evidence that this item went through Hamburg in the marking shown above "N.York Hamb. Pkt. Paid." Like Prussia, Hamburg had a postal agreement with the United States which allowed it to serve as an intermediary for mail between the US and Sweden.
Hamburg mails to Sweden were carried on a mail route (opened October, 1851) from Hamburg to Lubeck. Beginning in 1856, Danish mail steamers picked up the mail at Travemunde (Lubeck), dropping mails destined for Sweden at Malmo. Of course, route via Kiel avoided water and could always be taken during the Winter months if necessary.
important thing to note in this route is that Belgium and Prussia are
not visited. Instead, a steamer went directly to Hamburg - and that
is the main reason that there is a different postage rate for this
So, what were the postage rates to send a letter from the US to Sweden via Prussia and via Hamburg that applied to these letters?
Paid to Destination via Prussia 34 cents per ½ ounce : Oct 1865 - Jan 1868
Paid to Destination via Hamburg 33 cents per ½ ounce : Jul 1857 - Jan 1867
first letter had 68 cents in postage so it must have been a letter that
weighed more than 1/2 ounce and no more than 1 ounce (a double rate
item). That one is fairly clear and really doesn't need any speculation.
The second letter had 37 cents in postage if you include the postage pre-printed on the envelope. So, essentially, the letter was overpaid by four cents. But, it was clearly a simple letter (a letter that weighed no more than 1/2 ounce) and there were no other rates that would make sense for 37 cents in postage.
So, why would anyone overpay the postage by this much? It's pretty easy to explain if the only postage on the envelope came from the 10 cent and 24 cent stamps. These postage stamp denominations were available and it must have been convenient to just overpay by a penny. As far as the 3 cents of postage supplied by the design printed on the envelope, we can only speculate as to why this was not used to pay part of the postage. All I think we can safely say is that the amount of postage was recognized as "enough" and it was treated as if 33 cents had been paid. The rest was just extra profit for the US Post Office.
Hey. Why would they say "no" to a donation of more funds to the cause?
The first cover from the US to Sweden was addressed to Madame Christina Lundberg in Stockholm. There is extra information at the bottom left that could help us determine exactly where in Stockholm Lundberg resided at this time in 1867.
The bottom line reads: Ladugårdslandet.
This was a district in northeast Stockholm that changed its name to Östermalm in 1885 after most of the buildings in that district were destroyed and replaced. Starting in the 1600s, Ladugårdslandet featured wood and stone houses that were typically yellow. The buildings often were surrounded by gardens or plots, with some of them being summer homes for the wealthy and influential. There was a strong military presence with a training field nearby.
If anyone wants to take a shot at helping me figure out the rest of the address, feel free to do so.
And, there you are. A Postal History Sunday that just simply went wherever it led me. I hope you enjoyed this week's installment and, maybe, you learned something new.Have a fine remainder of your day and an excellent week to come.