Erie postal history
By: Thomas Mazza

Mar 1 , 2004

Tom Mazza was our guest speaker for the March seminar. Tom noted that Erie was founded by the French as Presque Isle in 1753, one of its strings of fortresses along the Appalachians, to prevent westward expansion of the English. Presque Isle was laid out as a town in 1795 and county seat in 1800. It gained a post office on September, 19, 1800 with J. Wilson as first postmaster. The name was changed in April 1811 to Erie with J. Gray as first postmaster and in 1851 Erie was incorporated as a city. It was an important port during the War of 1812.

Figure 1
Figure 2

Tom opened his presentation with Presque Isle covers and then segued into the rare War of 1812 express covers Figure 1.  A very rare item shown in Figure 2 was the 2 1/2 cts. printed matter rate, only a handful of which are known from the stampless period. Figure 3 shows a strip of 3 of the 1 cent plate 1 Late, as well as an advertising cover that was brought in and used at Erie, both showing the new black CDS used as killers. Moving to the Civil War period, Figure 4 shows an example of the 1861 three cent pink stamp used over the old 1857 perforated stamp, which was demonetized after the exchange period of August 22-28, 1861. Also shown here is an example of the three 1861 stamp used over a three cent star die to pay for forwarding the cover. While never demonetized, the star dies were briefly suspended in 1863 and permanently withdrawn in 1864.

Figure 5 shows an examined officer’s, prisoner of war, through the lines via flag-of-truce cover. It was charged double as a penalty for not being prepaid and was forwarded on to a warship on the Mississippi, with a tart note from the Erie postmaster. Figure 6 shows three covers illustrating railroad usages, while Figure 7 shows the only recorded properly prepaid three cent cover to Hong Kong via Japan during the three cent rate period, used December 3, 1864.