For the meeting of April 21, 1992 Calvet M. Hahn gave an hour long presentation on cross-border mails involving stampless covers. He began with 14 slides showing various rarities, most of which were subsequently passed around. He then moved into Part I of the program, passing around a series of covers relating to transportation methods used on cross-border mails—steamboat, railroad and express company covers.
Picking up from his chapter on Inland Waterways in his 1970 book Essays on Postal History, Hahn showed the three varieties of steamboat markings applied at Rochester. shows the early large 1838 Rochester STEAM BOAT. He also showed the very rare Rochester & Niagara R.R. marking (Towle 115B2) in blue (insert right), which is not a color known to Towle, and noted that Towle had had this railroad’s markings on his want list for years. Hahn proceeded to show markings on mail routed via Lake Champlain including the unique BOAT handstamp of Plattsburgh and the Lake Champlain ‘B’ manuscript marking as well as the various route agent markings (see Dr. Don Johnstone’s article in Postal History Journal on steamboat services on Lake Champlain.)
In covering cross-border express markings Hahn opted to begin with the Atlantic coast Favors express (two handstamps, a manuscript and a label, were shown as well as two examples of Turner’s express, and an unlisted Fishwick express combined with an Eastern Express label. (See Jephcott’s Postal History of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick express chapter (pages204-225 for more data). Shows the Fishwick combination express cover. Hahn then discussed steamboat carriers to New Brunswick (see Stamp Collector 2/7/83), showing both examples of Blake’s #393 (Boston Postmarks to 1890 as well as the unique example (Blake 376) with both Boston and St John’s markings, He also showed a rerated example of Jephcott #167 as well as an example of Jephcott #169 and the unlisted subsequent steamer express markings of the 1850s of a circled 10 CTS and CTS/10 for the U.S. Express Mail service and Fishwick’s Colonial Express Mails.
In cross-border stagecoach expresses Hahn showed a manuscript from Virgil & Co. as well as a Pullen & Virgil label and some 75 examples, on and off cover of the United States and Canada Express Company to illustrate the possible collecting depth of the cross-border express area.
Part II of Mr. Hahn’s presentation covered early colonial items through the War of 1812. He opened by showing a 1751 Halifax to R.I. and a 1759 Halifax to New York pair, both of which had unlisted American forwarders. He then showed the earliest U.S. to Canada cover he recorded (1770) that originated in the U. S. rather than coming from overseas through the U.S. and a Quebec waybill of 1773 that illustrated mail to Newport, R.I. He showed illustrations of the Montreal occupation covers which had escaped him and did show a Revolutionary wartime Glasgow to Quebec cover (see American Philatelist ‘Great North Post’ article November 1973, page 1005) as well as a 1788 Quebec to London example via New York (pg. 1006) and several pre 1792 Treaty covers of 1787-1791 (Collectors Club Philatelist November –December 1991 page 442 and Jan-Feb 1992 issue page 75). He also showed a letter that got into the ‘wrong bag’ in 1790.
After showing several examples of the 1792 treaty mail, Hahn turned to the War of 1812 mail and showed several rarities including a blockade cover sent from Boston via Halifax to England on May 14, 1814, a letter from the Camp at Fort George in occupied Canada dated July 15, 1813, that apparently went via the Army express mail service under the direction of Joseph Varnum. (He noted Fort George was occupied by the Americans from May 1813 to December 10, 1813 at which time the troops retreated, burning both Newark and Queenston, Canada on the way, leading to the reprisal burning of Buffalo and Black Rock in New York.)
Another featured item was a flag-of-truce letter from the significant battle of Lundy’s Lane that discussed POW baggage, It was this battle that the gray uniform of West Point was designed to commemorate. Hahn continued by showing the earliest post-war letter from Detroit (12/30/15), which was significant because a hero of the battle of Ft. Erie wrote it to a hero of the battle of Chippewa commending the latter on his actions. He also showed an eye witness account of the battle of Chrysler’s farm in Canada written ‘on the lines’ six days later, that called for the execution of the American generals who led that debacle.
Part III of the talk began with an 1817 example showing how letters were exchanged before official exchange offices were established. It showed the manuscript markings at Youngstown, N.Y. Hahn then proceeded to illustrate the U.S. postoffices abroad markings found in Canadian towns that were also official U.S. postoffices. Citing his Stamp Collector series of early cross-border mail (9/16, 9/30 and 10/5/85 as well as the 2/14/81 article featuring the ‘Niagara Paid to New York’ marking, he showed a number of covers. Among these was the 30 mm red Montreal marking U. STATES/Postage/PAID, , as well as manuscript and both color varieties of the well-known Toronto ‘9 & 25’ and ‘7 & 25’ paid handstamps
Two of the five recorded examples of the ‘U.S.P. Paid 25 cts’ marking of Lewiston were shown, including the earliest (see Susan McDonald’s ‘Canadian Handstamps Representing U. S. Postage’ in American Philatelist November 1976). He also showed the scarce Hamilton exchange marking ‘U.S. POST. PAID’ in red rather than the black reported by McDonald and the two-line BRITISH POSTAGE PAID/U. STATES Do PAID in black and red from the Glassco sale that McDonald was unable to illustrate. Finally, he showed the full rate prepayments from various Canadian cities during the period when Canadian offices served both countries.
Part IV of the talk was devoted to ferriage covers and other handstamped indications of U.s. postage used in Canada. This part opened with a pre-official item of 1821 from Hudson, N.Y. to Ancaster, U.C., via Lewiston, rated ‘8 and 2’ in Canada to show the ferriage separately. Hahn noted Canadian Postmaster General Stayner changed the unofficial ferriage arrangements by an order dated January 12, 1829, effective February 5th and showed a cover from Rochester N.Y. of January 11, 1829 to Niagara Falls on the 12th forwarded to Queenston on the 14th that showed the ferriage charge, figure15a. He also showed the ex-Lichtenstein 3-line ferriage cover of February 17th, figure15, (see page 59 of Boggs’ Postage Stamps and Postal History of Canada) as well as the 3¢ rate in a red straightline ‘U.S. POST/FERRIAGE; used at Cape Vincent/Kingston. Other examples were shown that included the ferriage in the basic rate a la the ‘Paid 9 & 25’ of Toronto. The ferriage portion finished with the rare short ‘2’ ferriage only rate used between cross border towns, figure 16, and an example of ferriage only being added to a ‘paid to the lines’ cover, figure 17, as well as one showing ferriage charges did not double on double covers. Non-ferriage items shown in this portion of the talk included the red ‘U.S. POSTAGE’ marking of Montreal, the ‘AMERICAN/BRITISH’ marking used between Detroit and Windsor as well as an example of the Queenston markings—the green ‘American Postage/British do.’
Hahn also showed examples of Canadian ‘freight money’ covers. With the advent of transatlantic steam passage, the ship’s owners began to charge to carry letters at 25¢ for steamer and 12½¢ for sailing packets. The postmasters in Canada and the U.S collected these monies for the ship owners. Freight money charges first appeared on Canadian mails October 27, 1838 and lasted until Britain ordered a stop on December 4, 1840; U. S. freight money continued into the 1847 period. Figure 18 shows a Canadian example, handstamped SHIP. Hahn also showed a cover with the Quebec STEAMBOAT that showed the rate breakdown of the 10¢ charge as 5¢, 2¢ ferriage and 3¢. The incorporation of ferriage charges into the 10¢ rate is not commonly known, he stated. He also showed examples of cross-border ‘money letters’ which are a form of registry. Canada to U.S. examples re fairly common, but only a handful are known in the opposite direction he pointed out, citing Horace Harrison’s research studies on the subject.
Part V of the talk was devoted to exchange offices. Hahn opened with a discussion of payments ‘to the lines’ using material from his five-part article on cross border mails in the 1847 era, ‘Oldies Yes, But Are They Goodies?” (Stamp Collector Jan/Feb 1976) He noted the system whereby Canadian offices could collect and remit U.S. postage ended November 11, 1847, after which they could only be prepaid to the lines. On and after April 6, 1851 it became possible to prepay postage all the way through at either 10¢ U.S. or 6d Canada with adhesives. An 1847 issue first day cover showing this exists (Stamp Collector 9/16-10/7/1985). When the Canadian beaver stamp was issued on April 23, 1851, it also became possible to prepay through rates with it, or a combination of a 3d beaver and a 5¢ Franklin. Such uses are very rare.
Hahn also showed all the handstamp markings associated with the New York state exchange offices. These included the fancy Rouse’s Point right-pointing shield handstamp in both red and black, figure 19 and 19A, as well as the left-pointing shield used at Cape Vincent. Figure 20 shows the latter in black used on a cover posted at Albany, N.Y. with a black steamboat handstamp and bearing a red FORWARDED applied at Kingston, U.C. He also showed both red and black examples of the octagon ‘U.S.’ (generally associated with the U.S. City Despatch local operation) applied on closed bag mail at New York, figure 21. He passed around covers with the fancy arc scrolls used at Burlington, Lewiston and New York as well as several colors the Buffalo exchange office marking with the fancy 10 superimposed over CENTS. He also showed the very rare semi-official half circle of Gananoque from the Tom Alexander collection, figure 22.
The final portion of the program consisted of a quick passing around of a dozen covers used wholly within Canada with inter4sting handstamp rates. Hahn also showed a birch-bark letter written by a member of the 1841 border survey of New Brunswick’s northwest boundary (Lat. 48o Long 68o) to Connecticut.
A more formalized presentation of the same subject given members in 1993is found below:
U.S./Canada-Postal Operations Abroad
© Calvet M. Hahn 1993
During the colonial era, Britain’s North American colonies were a single postal unit from Virginia through Canada. Canada had become part of the system following the Treaty of Paris of February 10, 1863, although Quebec had been stormed September 13, 1759 and Montreal surrendered in September 1760. Official British postal service dates from Hugh Finlay’s appointment as Quebec postmaster June 10, 1763. One of the earliest inter-colonial covers in private hands is figure 1. It originated at Boston on April 120, 1770 and got a red 43 x 8 mm BOSTON and a Franklin dater of 23/AP. It was triple rates 26 pennyweight (dwt), of which 10 dwt took it to New York and 16 on to Quebec.
The first opportunity for postal operations abroad came about from the American Revolution when the American forces occupied Montreal and the south bank of the St. Lawrence and set up postal service there. Several covers are known. I don’t own one being an unfortunate strong underbidder to the Canadian government when one was offered. Similar post offices abroad (Canadian) occurred after the peace due to the continued occupation of Detroit until 1796 and Ft. Niagara until 1797. Both fall outside my collecting interests. The War of 1812 brought additional occupation postal uses abroad, which will be discussed later.
Following the peace treaty of 1783, Canadian Postmaster General Hugh Finlay attempted, without success, to restore service via New York and then, alternatively, via Halifax for mail overseas. A few letters were carried on the all-Canadian route. Finally he proposed that Canadian mils be carried to Albany, N.Y. by Canadian couriers with American postage paid between Albany and New York. American Postmaster General Hazard objected violently and threatened to jail any Canadian courier who attempted to come south to Albany.
Finlay finally worked a direct deal with the Albany postmaster, who under the Articles of Confederation was not a Federal postmaster, by paying three shillings an ounce for the privilege of carrying the mails to New York. This arrangement continued until the Postal Convention of July 1, 1792, which stipulated that Americans would carry the British mails to Canada in a sealed bag to Burlington, Vt., at which point a Canadian courier would pick them up. The year before Canada had split into Lower and Upper Canada.
Figure 2 is one of the few letters of the pre-treaty or convention period illustrating the rate structure. It originated at Springfield, Mass. December 23, 1791 and did not go directly to Albany but rather went there via New York, where the earliest recorded type IA ‘N-York.dec 24’ was struck along with a PAID and a manuscript 2 dwt‘ rate. The interesting feature is the reddish ink manuscript ‘Albany to Quebec 1N4’, which covers the Canadian carriage rate. The cover was backstamped with a black 40 x 15 mm MONTREAL/JANy:12 for arrival. This rate covers the full New York to Quebec distance.
Under the new Convention, Canadian mail to or through the U.S. had to be prepaid to the order (lines), but U.S. letters to Canada could prepay the entire distance, pay only to the lines, or be sent unpaid with the Canadian postmasters remitting the U. S. postage to the U.S. as agents for the U.S. for which they received a 20% commission. Initially only the Postmaster General was involved, but soon individual postmasters became U.S. agents.
Figure 3 is a London letter of October 125, 1806 to Quebec on which the British packet agent at New York paid the 20¢ U.S. rate from New York to Canada and added a manuscript ‘U.S.P. Paid.’ Figure 4 is a letter from New York to Queenston, U.C. (a new office in 1801) sent as a double letter with a 50¢ rate due to be collected by Canada and remitted to the U.S. It is an early example of U.S. service abroad because of the payment remitted.
One of the more significant battles in the War of 1812 was that of Lundy’s Lane at Bridgewater, Ontario (near Niagara). Figure 5 (see figure 10 in the earlier version) shows the flag of truce cover sent august 4, 1814 after the battle by British Major General Conran to obtain the baggage of some of his American prisoners and to enclose a few letters to Americans, one enclosing monies. Figure 6 (see figure 9 above) shows a cover written at the camp at Ft. George in occupied Canada 7/15/1813 that was postmarked at Niagara on the 17th. Addressed to the Assistant Adjunct General at Washington this was marked Free and than rated 25¢. It almost certainly went via the 1813 express mail run by Joseph Varnum, the postmaster for the army who sent expresses three times weekly from Niagara to Buffalo. The British recaptured Ft. George on December 10th and in the retreat from Canada, the American forces burnt both Newark (Niagara on the Lake) and Queenston as well as York (Toronto) in reprisal for which the Canadians burnt both Black Rock and Buffalo, N.Y.
Figure 7 shows another war cover. This one contains an eye witness description of the battle of Chrysler’s farm across the St. Lawrence in Canada and was written ‘on the lines’ at French’s Mills, N.Y. six days later on November 17, 1813. It calls for the execution of the American generals who led that debacle. The letter came south probably by military express ‘from the northward’ to Albany where it was postmarked and rated.
By 1829, some postoffices began to use special handstamps for the U.S. postoffices abroad. One of the first was Niagara, U.C. where a red 34 x 26 mm double border oval was employed reading ‘NIAGARA/PAID/TO NEW-YORK. Figure 8 (figure 12 above) is the ex-Lichtenstein example, illustrated in Boggs’ Canada, considered the finest of the about a dozen examples known.
Another group of handstamps were used at Toronto in the mid-1830s. These were rate markings. A red straightline ‘PAID 9 & 25’ was used in 1836 and until 2/22/1837 when the 2d ferriage rate was abolished. At that time a red or black ‘PAID 7 & 25’ was introduced to account for the 2d reduction caused by the end of ferriage charges. (See figure 14 above) Figure 9 illustrates an example that did not make the packet in New York and therefore received the scarce New York ‘TOO LATE’ as well.
Incoming ship or packet letters were rated at new York and the U,.S. portions of the rates collected in Canada and remitted from there. Figures 10 and 11 show examples of 1830 and 1831 going on to Montreal. The Americans did not always agree with Canadian rating. Figure 12 shows a letter prepaid ‘9 and 25’ at Trafalgar April 1, 1835 to Abraham Bell & Co. in New York, but which was a double having an enclosure and therefore rated ‘Due 25’ as well when it got to New York.
Another set of the postoffice abroad handstamps dealt with the ferriage charge involved in crossing the Niagara River or the St. Lawrence. One of the scarcest of these is found at the exchange office of Niagara where the three line 40 x 25 mm ‘AMERCAN POSTAGE/ FERRIAGE /FORWARDED’ is seen on an ex-Lichtenstein cover (figure 15 above), which is also illustrated in Boggs’ Canada. It originated at Madison, N.Y. February 17, 1829 and went to Chippaway, Upper Canada via Black Rock and Niagara. While Boggs reported only two examples, I record over five. The corresponding marking in red, going from Montrose, Pa. to Dunwich, U.C. on a July 31, 1839 letter is seen as figure 13. The ferriage charge was 2d across the Niagara River with the U.S. being compensated only for its domestic carriage. Canada got the ferriage.
The crossing between Kingston, Ontario and Cape Vincent, N.Y. called for a longer ferry ride and therefore a 3d charge. Figure 14 is an example posted at New Haven to Gannannaque, near Kingston on October 9, 1829. The U.S. 25¢ rate for over 300 miles is translated to a Canadian 1/3 to which 3d currency for ferriage and 4½d internal Canadian postage are added. The handstamp is a straightline 29 x 9 mm U.S. POST./FERRIAGE and is quite rare. Ferriage charges are not always recorded in the rates, as can be seen by figure 15, which is from New York to Circaster, U.C. via Queenston. This double rated 50¢ letter is translated as 2/6, with the Canadian addition of 11d currency for a double 4½d internal rate 9d plus 2d for ferriage which is not separately noted.
Another handstamp of the U.S. offices abroad can be found on letters through Lewiston, N.Y. and York, Canada. Figure 16 is a letter from Lake Simco of March 22, 1832 posted that day and York and addressed to London. It bears a manuscript ‘pd to New York 9 & 25’ as discussed earlier as well as the red Lewiston exchange circle date stamp of the 25th together with the rare faint 52 x 4 mm ‘U.S. P. Paid 25 cts’ straightline of which I record five. Figure 17 illustrates the ex-Dale Lichtenstein example of this marking on a cover posted at York November 1, 1832.
Figure 18 shows another example of U.S. postage collected in Canada by the Canadian postmaster agent for the U.S. It is a Liverpool letter posted March 14, 1833, that went via the Blackball line’s North America (launched in 1831), into New York with a 20¾ rate due (this includes a two cent in-ship charge) and rated in manuscript ‘U.S. P. 1..1/1..02/1’ to show the detailed accounting and how much Canada had to remit to the U.S. An unusual feature of this cover is the fact the total amount due is charged to a Canadian charge box account.
Hamilton, Ontario used a variant of the York/Lewiston handstamp that is seen as figure 19. It is a red 32 x 2 mm. U.S. POST PAID’ and a manuscript 25¢ PAID and a 6½d currency for the Canadian rate to the border of 4½d plus the ferriage of 2d, on this January 23, 1836 cover, dated about a year ‘before the February 22, 1837 abolition of the ferry fee. At Montreal, another handstamp variant is found used by the postmaster there as a U.S. agent. This is the red 30mm circle reading ‘U. STATES/Postage/PAID’, which is found on a Kennedy correspondence charge box cover dated at Montreal June 17, 1847. It is known used June through September 1847 and is a U. S. handstamp used by the Montreal postmaster as U.S. agent. (See figure 13 above)
A somewhat different approach was used at the Coburg/Kingston exchange office point, where a letter of August 16, 1836 just got a Kingston boxed PAID and a ’11 cy’ for the Canadian portion of the rate, while the writer marked ‘pd. Single to Schda. H.B. Jr., to show the U.S. prepayment to Union College at Schenectady, figure 20. The same boxed PAID is seen on a May 13, 1843 Kingston cover of the Kennedy correspondence, figure 21, which only shows the double-rated U.S. portion. Figure 22 shows a Toronto cover of this correspondence which is a charge box item having a double U.S. 25¢ rate of 50¢, credited to the U. S. by its agent, the Toronto postmaster.
Sometimes the only rate shown is the U. S. portion; other times the combined rate is given and sometimes the rates are marked separately. Figure 23 is a Kennedy correspondence cover out of Quebec sent via ‘sealed bag’ to New York. The Quebec PAID is applied next to both the Canadian 11 cy rate and the U. S. 18¾¢ rate. In the 1840s, a change occurred in the Canadian rating regulations by which rating was done by ounce, while the U.s. continued to rate by sheet of paper. This created a situation whereby a cover could be single rated on one side and double rated on the other side of the border. Figure 24 illustrates a May 7, 1844 cover that was single rated in Montreal for the Canadian portion and double rated for the U.S. prepaid 37½¢ portion that was credited to the U. S. government by its agent the Montreal postmaster.
Figure 25 shows a September 24, 1839 cross-border prepaid cover from Niagara, U.S. to Tonawanda, N.Y. with a pencil notation it was to be prepaid against box #66. It received a PAID and a 6¢ changed to 10¢ to cover the short distance to Tonawanda within the U. S.
A predecessor handstamp to the Mont4real manuscript ‘U.S.P.’ and the handstamp ‘U. STATES/Postage/PAID’ is the red 46 x 4 mm straightline ‘U S POSTAGE’ found circa 1830-1831. It is found on mail incoming to Canada as on an Albany letter of September 17, 1830 to the suburb of Chambly rated 37½¢ at Albany, which was converted to 1-10½ Cy. (double rate) with a double 4½ (9d) for the Canadian portion in manuscript, figure 26. A similar item from Minot, Maine dated August 19, 1831 to Henryville, L. C. is seen as figure 26. It is a single rated item on both sides.
A series of handstamp markings are known showing the splitting of the U.S. and Canadian rates as applied by Canadian postmasters acting as U.S. government agents. Figure 27 shows a red 42 x 9 mm double straightline ‘BRITISH POSTAGE PAID/U. STATES* PAID’ applied at Kingston, U.C. with the Kingston boxed PAID on a September 26, 1836 cover to New York. It is ex-Glassco. Figure 28, also ex-Glassco, shows the same marking struck in black at Picton, U.C. January 19, 1842 transiting Kingston where it entered the ‘sealed bag’ and the marking was crossed out to be replaced by the Kingston boxed PAID and the U.S. rate credit that Kingston turned over to the U.S.
Another such marking is found at Queenston in green. Figure 29 is an August 13, 1831 letter with the breakdown marking ‘American Postage/British do’ applied on a letter to the postmaster of Sandwich, U.C. In this case the U. S. 25¢ rate from Baltimore to the lines is translated into 1/3 Canadian and the Canadian portion marked free because it is addressed to a postmaster. Figure 30 shows a Cleveland, Ohio letter to Amhurstburg, Canada West via Detroit’s corresponding exchange office dated December 29, 1846 and a circled V rate, due to the U.S. with was translated to a 3 cy in Canada with a 4½cy Canadian rate added. The handstamp is a red straightline ‘AMERICAN/BRITISH’.
In order to speed the Cunard line mails from Boston to Canada, the Canadians arranged to have express mail handling by private expresses in 1844-1845. An item in the Portland, Maine Directory of 1846 noted how the Boston runners beat the January 23, 1846 express by sleigh on the 30 hour trip to Montreal. Lot 1532 in the Maurice Blake sale (Siegel 12/9/1969) had two such covers dated 1844 and 1845, which were described as bearing red ‘U.S.P. & Ex’ with the 1845 item from Glasgow not having the last two letters clearly struck. Figure 31 shows this item. It took from February 19th, at Boston, to the 23rd at Montreal to transit this letter during the winter of 1845. Figure 32 is a companion cover sent by the British Consul at Boston to Quebec that left Boston February 8, 1844 and arrived at Montreal on the 13th and Quebec the 15th. It bears the handstamp ‘U.S.P.’ in a red straightline.
In 1838 another set of markings began to appear on Canadian origin cross-border letters. These markings represent the freight money charge in effect from October 27, 1838 to December 4, 1840 when the G.P.O. in London ordered the Canadian postmasters to stop collecting and remitting this private fee charge on transatlantic letters to the postmasters of New York or Boston for transmission to the packet lines. What had happened was that at the time regular steamship service across the Atlantic began and the owners of the vessels decided to impose a surcharge of 25¢ for letters carried on steamers and 12½¢ by fast sail vessels. The U. S. and Canadian postmasters collected these charges and turned them over to the shipping lines. Figure 33 is a letter from Guelph, U.C. dated February 20, 1839 addressed to Nottingham, England prepaid to England with a rate construction in manuscript showing ‘Paid Ap 25¢/ Packet 12½¢/B.7’. It went via sailing packet. It is ex-Reusille, who did much of the original research on freight money covers subsequently published by others. Another of the rare ‘freight money’ covers from Canada can be seen as figure 34. It originated at Raleigh October 19, 1839 and reached New York October 27th and London on November 21st. It is marked in pen, ‘Post Paid’ ‘Paid 9’ for the Canadian portion and ‘U.S. Paid 25¢/Pkt do. 12½¢’for the U.S. portion and the sailing packet freight money.
A particularly rare freight money example, ex-Reusille, is seen in the earlier section as figure 18. It is the only example with a handstamp SHIP PAID that I record. This cover is a missionary letter from Lenoxville, L.C. dated March 12, 1840 that was fully prepaid to England with 4½ Cy Canadian, 18¾¢ U. S. for transit from Derbyline, Vt. to New York and the ‘freight money’ private sailing ship fee of 12½¢–all prepaid.