This page last updated: 12 October 2009


::: Mail to Foreign Destination Sent through the United States :::

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56 - Jul 26 to Loudiac France

Postmarked July 26 at Honolulu, this cover for France was rated at 28. The sender paid 5 for Hawaii postage and 28 for United States postage on a ounce letter to pay the 2 ship fee plus 26 to pay the postage rate specified in the United States Britain postal convention. Until 1857, the United States had no postal agreement with France and mail for France was typically carried via Great Britain. On this cover, Honolulu used its prepaid letter postmark to show United States postage was paid. From Honolulu, this letter was taken to San Francisco by the American bark Fanny Major, departing Honolulu July 26, 1856, and arriving San Francisco August 25. This cover waited at San Francisco for the departure of the Pacific Mail steamship Golden Age on September 5; the San Francisco postmark was dated for the steamship departure day. On September 18 the Golden Age arrived at Panama City and her mail was carried on the Panama Railroad across the Isthmus to Aspinwall, where it was loaded on the United States Mail steamship Illinois, departing Aspinwall September 18 and arriving New York City on September 27. At New York City, the cover was postmarked October 4 with the New York Exchange Office device showing the Transatlantic service was performed by an American packet an important note affecting how the 28 postage paid to the United States was divided between the United States and England. Because the letter was carried on an American packet, the United States paid the cost of the Transatlantic service so it kept the entire 28 (10 for United States mail carried via Panama and 16 allocated to the Transatlantic service). On October 4, the Ocean Line steamship Washington, an American packet, left New York City and arrived Southampton, England, on October 18. At Southampton, mail for Britain and France was offloaded, and the Washington then continued on to Bremerhaven. From Southampton, this letter was sent to France. Transit costs from Southampton to France were paid by France through an agreement between France and Britain. An "8" handstamp was applied in France to show eight decimes were due on delivery to pay internal French postage and to reimburse England for the cost of transporting the cover to France. A Calais transit mark dated 20 October shows the receipt there. Backstamps show the letter transited Brest, the largest city in Brittany, on 21 October and was received at Loudeac 22 October.

58 - Nov 18 Avignon

Another cover to France, illustrated above, was postmarked at Honolulu on November 18, 1858. By then, the United States and France had made a postal convention specifying a letter rate of 15 per ounce. That rate was divided among the United States, England and France, broken down to 3 for United States internal postage, 6 for the Transatlantic service, 2 for the British transit cost from England to France, and 4 for French internal postage. When mail was transported on an American packet, the United States kept 9 and credited France 6. From the 6 allocated to France, France reimbursed Britain for the transit from England. Under the convention with France, letters cost no more if sent from San Francisco than if sent from New York. The cover shown above was a triple weight cover weighing more than ounce, but less than ounce. The triple rate of 18 credited to France is shown in the New York Exchange office postmark. However, at Honolulu, the cover was rated as a double letter and marked "32". The San Francisco Post Office charged the 15 deficiency to the Honolulu Post Office account at San Francisco, so the letter went through to France as fully paid. How much money the sender paid is uncertain definitely 10 for Hawaii postage and 32 United States postage. It is most likely the Honolulu Post Office had no ability to obtain reimbursement for the extra rate charged to its account. From Honolulu, this letter was carried to San Francisco on the American bark Yankee, sailing November 18, 1858 and arriving December 1. At San Francisco, the cover was postmarked December 5. On that date, a Butterfield stage departed for St. Louis, Missouri, and a Panama Mail steamship departed for Panama City, so it is uncertain how the letter was carried to New York City. Regardless, the letter was in New York City in time for the Inman Line steamship Kangaroo departure on January 1, 1859 for Liverpool. For this trip, the British steamship Kangaroo was operating as an American packet under a temporary contract with the United States (see Hubbard and Winter, North Atlantic Mail Sailings 1840-75, p. 196). From Liverpool, the letter was taken to London and thence to Calais. In France, the cover was marked with a black ET. UNIS SERV. AM.A.C./15/Jan/59/L postmark with a circular outer circle and octagonal inner shape. This mark means the cover was carried by the American service and entered the French mail on the ambulant or rail car from Calais, and was processed by team "L". If the cover had been carried by the British service, the inner shape would have been a circle. French postmarks show the letter traveled to Avignon via Calais (January 15, 1859), and Paris (January 16), arriving in Avignon on January 17.

55 - May 24 - Ramsgate

The cover to England illustrated above has no Honolulu postmark, but it has a manuscript date of May 24, 1855, and was struck with the Honolulu red oval PAID mark. The manuscript rate written in the oval initially was "29", but this amount was overstruck with "31", because the 2 ship fee had to be added to the 29 rate specified in the United States Great Britain postal convention. Thus the sender paid 5 for Hawaii postage and 31 for United States postage, including the ship fee. The United States kept the 2 ship fee and divided the 29 convention rate with Great Britain as follows: 10 for United States inland postage via Panama, 16 for the Transatlantic service, and 3 fro British internal postage. Whether the United States kept the 16 Transatlantic service fee or paid it to Britain depended on whether the cover was carried by an American packet or British packet. This cover was carried to San Francisco on the American bark Frances Palmer, departing Honolulu June 5, 1855 and arriving San Francisco June 24. At San Francisco, a clerk marked the letter "PAID", and postmarked it June 30 for the departure of the Pacific Mail steamship Sonora for Panama City (July 15 arrival). The Honolulu Post Office account was charged 31. From Panama City, the letter traveled on the Panama Railroad to Aspinwall, on the Atlantic Coast, and was taken to New York City on the United States Mail steamship Illinois (July 19 departure; July 27 arrival). There is no postmark from the New York City Exchange Office, but a red "3" was handstamped there to show a 3 credit to England for the British inland postage portion of the 29 treaty rate. From New York City, the letter was carried to Southampton, England, on the American packet Arago (July 28 sailing; August 10 arrival), a steamship operated by the Havre Line, and taken to London where the cover was postmarked "PAID" on August 10. A backstamp shows the letter was received at Ramsgate on August 11.

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