Friday, April 13, 2018

Letter Rates Between France and Italy


The Project
Postal agreements prior to the General Postal Union/Universal Postal Union in 1875 were highly diverse, though they show increased uniformity over time from 1850 to 1875 in Europe.  This post focuses on mail between France and Italy.  Last edited: Nov 7, 2018

Organization of this Post

  • Postal Arrangements (in progress)
  • France to Italy Prepaid Rates (in progress)
  • Italy to France Prepaid Rates (in progress)
  • Border Crossings (in progress)
  • Duchy of Savoy and the County of Nice (in progress)
Postal Arrangements: France and Italy
Prior to 1861, Italy was a diverse set of independent states.  The postal agreements set by the Kingdom of Sardinia became the basis of those used by the Kingdom of Italy.  To reflect this, I am including the prior Sardinian convention to show the development of the agreement.  Agreements between France and other Italian States may be added at a later point in time if I locate postal history items that encourage me to do so.

Franco-Sardinian Convention of Nov 9, 1850
Effective on July 1, 1851, this convention used a linear weight progression along with a distance and/or carriage component.  The distance component simply translated itself to a special border rate that amounted to the same thing in the next convention.

Border Changes 1860
An agreement with Sardinia saw the border between Sardinia (becoming the Kingdom of Italy) and France move eastward.  The County of Nice and Duchy of Savoy were annexed by France via treaty followed by plebiscite.  Details can be found later in this post.


Franco-Sardinian Convention of 1860
The new convention became effective on the first of the year.  The border rate maintained the same 30 km distance but the sea carriage rate was deleted from the language.  Postal rates declined slightly while the standard letter weight increased from 7.5 grams to 10 grams.  The Two Sicilies did not join until Oct 1, 1861, when the 1860 convention was already in place.  The depleted Roman States did not use Kingdom of Italy postal conventions until 1870.

Convention Snippets
1850 1860 1869
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Click on the text image to see a larger version.


Franco-Italian Convention of 1869
This is the first full convention between France and the Kingdom of Italy though both agreed to apply the Sardinian convention protocols prior to this.  The border rate was removed at this point in time.  This convention remained in place until the General Postal Union took effect.

France to Italy Prepaid Rates
The Sardinian Convention of 1850 was made available to Lombardy, Parma and Modena in June/July of 1859.  Tuscany joined in July of 1860.

French/Sardinian Rates July 1, 1851
Effective Date Rate Unit
Border < 30 km distance 25 centimes/centisemi 7.5 grams
All other distances 50 centimes/centisemi 7.5 grams
Sea carriage 70 centimes/centisemi 7.5 grams

Prepaid Letter Rates - France to Kingdom of Italy
Effective Date Rate Unit
Jan 1, 1861 (a) 40 centimes 10 grams
Jan 1, 1861 - border 20 centimes 10 grams
Aug 1, 1869 - all  (b) 40 centimes 10 grams
Jan 1, 1876 (GPU) 30 centimes 15 grams
May 1, 1878 (UPU) 25 centimes 15 grams
Oct 1, 1907 (UPU) 25 ctm / 15 ctm 15 g / add'l 15 g
(a) - Sicily and Naples (Two Sicilies) begin to use this convention Oct 1, 1861
(b) - the Papal States begin to use this convention Oct, 1870


40 ctms per 10 gms  : Jan 1, 1861 - Jul 31, 1869

Single Letter Rate Example - via Steamship


Marseilles, Jul 23, 1862
par vapeur (steamship) Aunis
Genova Jul ? 1862 (verso)
Francia Via Di Mare
As the Kingdom of Italy was taking form, the government made a commitment to improve rail transit.  The increasing reliability of railways would soon result in many fewer examples of mail taking steamships between Genoa and Marseilles.

July 23 was a Wednesday and Thursday was the normal departure date in 1862 for the mail steamer from Marseilles to Genoa.  The Aunis did, indeed, leave Marseilles on July 24 of that year according to Salles. 

40 ctms per 10 gms  : Aug 1, 1869 - Dec 31, 1875
Granted, the standard letter rate is no different than the prior period.  For the purposes of this post, the big difference is the elimination of border rates.

Single Letter Rate Example - via Modane Tunnel


Paris Feb 12 1875
Paris Etranger Feb 12 75 (verso)
1? Dist Feb 15 (verso)
Napoli Feb ? (verso)
The 1875 date of this piece of mail puts it very close to the activation of the General Postal Union.  Sadly, from a postal historian's viewpoint, markings for foreign mail seem to become a bit less descriptive for deciphering routes.  The standard "Paris Etranger" marking simply indicated that it was processed as a foreign mail destination item.

Double Rate Example - via Modane

Marseilles  Mar 24 1872
Modane-Torino Ambulant
       Mar 25 72 (verso)
Napoli Mar 26 72 (verso)


Italy to France Prepaid Rates
Once again, the 1851 Sardinian rate table is included for quick reference with any items that follow in the examples section below. 

French/Sardinian Rates July 1, 1851
Effective Date Rate Unit
Border < 30 km distance 25 centimes/centisemi 7.5 grams
All other distances 50 centimes/centisemi 7.5 grams
Sea carriage 70 centimes/centisemi 7.5 grams

Of particular interest is the simple 1 to 1 conversion from the French franc to the Italian lira.  In fact, one will find similar arrangements with Belgium and Switzerland during this period.  This was formalized further via the Latin Monetary Union agreement of December, 1865.  The agreement to mint coinage under the same specifications was put into place in August of 1866, thus facilitating the use of interchangeable money systems for the participating countries. 
Letter Rates - Italy to France
Effective Date Rate Unit
Jan 1, 1861 (a) 40 centisemi 10 grams
Jan 1, 1861 - border 20 centisemi 10 grams
Aug 1, 1869 (b) 40 centisemi 10 grams
Jan 1, 1876 (GPU) 30 centisemi 15 grams
May 1, 1878 (UPU) 25  centisemi 15 grams
Oct 1, 1907 (UPU) 25 ctsm / 15 ctsm 15 g / add'l 15 g
(a) - Sicily and Naples (Two Sicilies) begin to use this convention Oct 1, 1861
(b) - the Papal States begin to use this convention Oct, 1870

Greece joined the LMU in 1867 and Austria/Hungary came to a separate agreement with France that set a conversion rate for coinage between the two countries.  The LMU was officially ended in 1927.  It is very interesting to see the movement towards standardized mail exchange between nations and its parallel with monetary exchange.

40 centesimi per 10 grams : Jan 1, 1861 - Jul 31, 1869

Letter Rate Example - via Susa and Lanslebourg

Torino Oct 7, 1861
Susa
Italie Lanslebourg Oct 9, 1861
St Jean de Maurienne
Lyon Oct 9 (verso)
The Alps crossing that eventually led to the development of the Modane Tunnel (and the route via Mt Cenis prior to that) often used Lanslebourg as the exchange office in France.  Susa is commonly referred to as the Italian border crossing town.

Letter Rate Example - via steam packet from Genoa to Nice



Genova Sep 30, 1863
   the Vatican?
Genes Bat. A. Vapeur                 Oct 1, 1863
As rail lines developed in Italy, the use of steam ships (Bateau A Vapeur) declined for the carriage of mail between France and Italy.  Genoa and Nice likely continued to use water transit until the Ventimiglia crossing was fully open in 1872.  It was unlikely that the route north to go via the Susa/Modane/Mt Cenis route and then back south to get to Nice was going to save any time unless a night time train departure was eventually arranged.

40 centesimi per 10 grams : Aug 1, 1869 - Dec 31, 1875

 Letter Rate Example - via Ventimiglia rail crossing
Genova Aug 19, 1874
Ventimiglia - Nice (rail opened 1872)
Italie Amb Marseilles Aug 20
Bordeaux Aug 21, 1874

I do not fully understand the ambulant Marseilles markings and admit that I am only using deductive reasoning in some of these cases.  I would suppose there are French postal markings specialists who could potentially separate them out with respect to the route and border crossing in question.  In this situation, it isn't terribly difficult to determine the route.  If this item had crossed the border further north, other markings would be far more likely than the ambulant Marseilles exchange. In fact, with the Bordeaux destination, this route would have been the most efficient to follow.
Border Crossings and Exchange Offices
The border changed in 1860 with the annexation of the County of Nice and the Duchy of Savoy by France.  Prior to that time, a completely different set of border crossings and exchange offices would have been used.

Post-Annexation of Nice and Savoy:

The Susa/Lanslebourg Crossing
A carriage road via the Mont Cenis Pass was constructed 1803-1810.  The exchange office for France is often Lanslebourg and Susa will show up on the Italian side of the coin.

Mont Cenis and the Modane Tunnel
Exchange markings will sometimes reference Mont Cenis in France where Italy might reference the Modane/Torino ambulant railway office.  I have also seen markings that reference Susa.
 Mont Cenis Railway 1868 - 1871
Modane/Mt Cenis Tunnel - Construction 1857-Dec 1870
                                          - Opened Sep 17, 1871
Route:

  • Chambery
  • Mont Melian
  • St Jean de Maurienne
  • St Michel
  • Modane
  • Susa
  • Turin (Torino)
Crossings Over the Water:
This topic could be worthy of a separate post since much of the Cote d'Azur (known as the French Riviera in the US) and Ligurian coast in Italy was most easily accessed by the Mediterranean.  Steam packets running from Genoa to Nizza (Nice) were fairly common, just as mail traffic from Civitavecchia to Marseilles was a normal route.  One example above shows an item that went by steamship from Genoa to Nice.  Of course, once reliable rail service was established in 1872, most mail would use the faster ground routes.  But, until 1872 it is unclear to me if some of this mail went via ground routes using carriages where the rail was not yet complete or if there was a complex series of water transports that might see entry at ports other than Nice and Marseilles. 

The Ventimiglia/Menton Crossing:
French exchange office markings for Menton are applied in the earlier 1860's, which may indicate ground transport.  A carriage road or roads shows up on maps between Genoa and Nice at that time and I suspect, like all mail during that time, the route was chosen depending on the sea departure schedule for mail packets.

I seem to recall reading somewhere (and I need to find it again) that France had considered promoting the Menton/Ventimiglia crossing by including Menton as an exchange office.  But most mail ended up going via Mt. Cenis and Menton was either removed from the rolls and/or as the rail line was finished a traveling post office (ambulant) provided exchange office services instead.

The Ventimiglia/Menton Railway Crossing:
The rail line from Genoa to Marseilles was entirely complete by 1872.  However, as with all rail projects, segments of the rail line opened over time.
French Railway: Marseilles to Ventimgilia
1858 Marseille to Aubagne
1859 Aubagne to Toulon
1862 Les Arcs
1863 Cagnes-sur-Mer
1864 Nice
1868 Monaco
1869 Menton
1872 Border crossing to Ventimiglia complete

Italian Railway: Genoa to Ventimiglia
April 1856 Genoa to Sampierdarena
Oct 27, 1860 Proclamation to build the Ligurian Railway
May 1868 Sampierdarena to Savona
Jan 25, 1872 Savona to Ventimiglia
March 1872 Border crossing opened to Menton

Border Movement: Duchy of Savoy and the County of Nice
The Treaty of Turin (Mar 24, 1860) ceded the Duchy of Savoy and the County of Nice to France (from Sardinia) which was confirmed by plebiscite not long after the signing of the treaty.  It is an interesting study in politics to read about the techniques used to insure that the plebiscite results matched the intentions of France and Sardinia.  Essentially, Savoy and Nice were the price of doing business with the French in the effort to free Lombardy/Venetia from Austria.  
The Modane tunnel, under construction since 1857 was now partially in France.

Open Questions:


Resources
Les Tarifs Postaux Francais: Entre 1848 et 1916 by Jean-Louis Bourgouin
     This has been my "go to" site for determining French rates for some time.  Data appears to be backed up by postal acts and agreements of which I have confirmed some and I hope to collect access to others as well.

Matha, T and Mentaschi, M, Letter Mail From and To the Old Italian States: 1850-1870, Vaccari, 2008.
While the layout of this book took me a little bit to get used to, it provided some sound guidance for a number of Italian rates.  The area I tended to care about falls outside the scope of this book since they tend to only take postal agreements up to the point an Italian State was absorbed in the Kingdom of Italy.  After that point, only the Papal States get treatment.  But, focusing on Sardinian rates and reading between the lines for the rest can get you a long way.  The level of detail is inconsistent at times, but I am pleased that the authors published rather than hold out for perfection.

Abensur, Robert, The Franco-Sardinian Route in International Relations: Conventions, Regulations, Tariffs, 1818-1851, Academie de philatelie, 2017.

Convention material links on its way.

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