Sunday, May 14, 2023

A Special End of Pandemic Postal History Sunday

 Welcome to this week's edition of Postal History Sunday!  This week, we're going to do something ...erm... special, to celebrate (?) the termination of the federal government's emergency declaration for the pandemic.  This makes some sense, since Postal History Sunday was created as an effort to reach out to others during the earlier part of the pandemic.  But, the truth of the matter is this.  Both of us at the Genuine Faux Farm are recovering from our first bout with the virus.  Looking at the computer screen and concentrating are more difficult than usual.  

This week, we're going to make an adjustment to address some of the limitations I find myself with.  We'll go back to our Postal History Sunday roots and simply share a few items, without getting too deep into any one of them.  There is no theme other than these are things I appreciate and enjoy.

An uncommon destination overseas

It makes sense (to me at least) that the first thing I would select bears a 24 cent stamp from the United States 1861 design.  What doesn't make sense is that I would select an item that is complex (given my opening).  Still, we'll save many details for a future Postal History Sunday and make it easier on me.

This letter was mailed at the Clyde, NY, post office on July 19, 1862.  Initially, the sender attempted to mail this letter without paying any postage.  While the postmaster at Clyde felt this was okay to do, the New York Foreign Mail Office did not agree.  They put a marking on the envelope that reads "Returned For Postage" and sent it back to Clyde.  That's when the stamps were applied and a new Clyde postmark dated August 6 was struck on the envelope.

The letter was sent back to New York where they recognized it as paid and put it on a ship on August 9 so it could cross the Atlantic.

The destination of this letter was Madeira Island, located off the northwest coast of Africa.  Madeira was colonized by Portugal in the 1420s and was under their administration in 1862.  Ships from Southampton (England) and Lisbon (Portugal) regularly sailed though on the way west to the Americas.

This letter crossed the Atlantic from New York, arriving in London.  From London, the letter was sent through France and Spain to get to Lisbon, on its way to Madeira.  The recipient was required to pay 80 reis (Portuguese currency) to complete payment of the local postage, which could not be prepaid by the sender.

An interesting Iowa destination

Since I told you there was no particular theme today, I feel like it is perfectly fine for me to move from an 1862 letter from the US to a very uncommon destination to something that has to do with chickens.  Yes, I suppose some of you are going to complain a bit about whiplash with the drastic about-face on the topic.  But, hey, this is what brain fog does to a person.  One moment, they're talking about the the route through Lisbon and the next they're wondering if the Sure Hatch Incubator Company in Fremont, Nebraska sold much product in the early 1900s.

The letter shown above was sent under the 2 cents per ounce rate for internal United States mail.  The destination is South Amana, which is part of the Amana Colonies in Iowa.  South Amana is one of six communities established in 1855 (a seventh, named Homestead, was added in 1861).  The Amanas were established as a communal society populated by Germans who had established a settlement near Buffalo, NY in the 1840s after having left Europe to seek a location where they would have religious freedom for their belief system. 

Image of Sure Hatch Incubator Co (1912) from Nebraska Memories (viewed 5/13/23)

There is, currently, a Surehatch Incubator Company in Missouri that still sells product.  Whether it is the same business (or if that business has shared roots), I do not know.

For those who are curious, we traditionally buy "day-old" chicks for the Genuine Faux Farm from hatcheries.  We have only actively hatched our own poultry once.  It's certainly something we could have done, but you have to draw the line somewhere.  In this case, we decided hatching new birds was on the "other" side of the lines we drew.

Destination London

Sometimes it is important to simply look at an item and appreciate it for what it is.  This 1865 folded business letter was sent from Amsterdam (Holland) to London (England).  There are 15 Dutch cents in postage, properly paying the rate.  The stamps themselves are canceled (marked to avoid their re-use) with the word "Franco" which means "franked" or "postage paid."  I like this item because it is clean, neat, and pretty easy to decipher. 

According to the postmarks, this letter took a couple days in January to get to its destination.  The addressee, Grosscurth and Luboldt, was listed in an 1891 Trade Directory as dealers and importers of bismuth.  The contents of the folded letter may refer to a supply of "crushed" bismuth in Constantinople.  However, the writing is a bit difficult to decipher in places and I wanted to keep things simple, remember?

taken from this location

I was able to find this snippet from the January 8, 1909, London Gazette that announced the dissolution of the partnership of Grosscurth and Luboldt.  I was even able to find an announcement for Mr. Julius Grosscurth's death in 1924 (Dec 23 at age 88).

At the risk of perpetuating an "urban myth," I have read multiple places, that one Nicolas Papaffy was able to perpetuate the fraud of convincing people in the London Exchange to invest in a process whereby he claimed to be able to transform bismuth and aluminum to silver.  As a result, the prices of this metal were, for a time, artificially high, until Papaffy absconded with the money and left the newly founded business in London.  I can trace this story to a particular science text cited by several internet sources, but I have found no contemporary references after a short search.

And that's where I'll stop for the day.  I hope you found something enjoyable in today's entry.

Have a great remainder of your day and a fine week to come.


Postal History Sunday is published each week at both the Genuine Faux Farm blog and the GFF Postal History blog.  If you are interested in prior entries, you can view them, starting with the most recent, at this location.

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