U.S. Mails – It’s First 80 Years Without Stamps
By: Bob Rose

Sep 14 , 2021

Bob Rose was our presenter at the New York Chapter USPCS meeting on September 14, on the topic “United States Mails: Its First 80 Years Without Stamps.” His talk covered the period 1775 to 1855, during which postage stamps were either unavailable or optional. Aside from covering the evolution and history of the mails during this period, Bob showed some amazing examples of postal history.

He first discussed the social history and evolution of the mails, noting that letter writing was the primary means of communication, well into the 20th century. He also described the different means of carrying the mails in the U.S. over the early decades and noted how most letters were sent postage due prior to the early 1850s. Some of the stampless letters shown included: 1775 folded letter from Princeton to Philadelphia showing use of the Congressional Post; 1775 New York to Philadelphia with a red NY straightline handstamp; and an example of a letter marked with the very rare Bordenton & New York Stage marking, the earliest reported use of an independent mail handstamp!

Bob also showed many different types of handstamped markings used on stampless letters, including: early circular markings; oval postmarks in various colors; staightline markings; and several fancy mortised handstamps, including the very scarce Newark Valley, NY marking, with doves and hearts. Other postal markings included rimless circles and negative lettered handstamps. His talk concluded with the 1847 issue of general postage stamps and the gradual use of stamped mail.