New York to California Mails
By: Tom Mazza

Mar 10 , 2015

Tom Mazza, our speaker on March 10, presented a wealth of postal history material that documented the evolution of “New York to California mails.”  Starting with the first contract mail in 1848, Tom provided us with many rare to unique examples of stampless and stamped mail sent over various postal routes during the 1850s and 1860s.

Some of the highlights of this presentation included:  only cover known from the first mail delivery at San Francisco; earliest recorded large ‘40’ handstamp; several examples of the 40 cent ‘hanging paid’; examples of the 80 cent double rate; 10 cent imperforate stamp on insurance company corner card; and the only recorded compound star die envelope up-rated to California.

Tom also showed many examples of the scarce marking ‘Via Nicaragua, Ahead of the Mails.’  This included a cover with a diagonal bisect of the 12 cent issue as well as another cover with a block of four of the 3 cent issue.  Other forms of this marking were well represented, including a pair of the 3 cent issue on a beautiful advertising cover and another pair on a cover marked “Forwarded via Nicaragua from Noisy Carriers.”

A fair number of Western express covers were presented, including: Berford & Co.; Freeman & Co.; Gregory’s Express; Kenyon’s Foreign Letter Office; and Langton’s Pioneer Express.  Other rare items included a Wells Fargo cover with a pair of the 10 cent issue going to Germany, as well as a Wells Fargo Pony Express cover (½ ounce imprint text) going from NY to Placerville, California.