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Posted Jul 21, 21 22:26 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)


When I cooked up that W = Way theory, eventually I went through all the "w"s in Johnson's dictionary to make sure that "way" was the best fit.  It was.   I then started on a rather old Webster's Unabridged, but I don't think I made it all the way, as it were, through.  I think Calvet may have outbid me for the WW that was in a Frajola Sale c1985? with some ohter goodies -- I thought maybe a bit of Carson material was being sold, but evidentlynot) -- Tim, that may be the cover you have.

Posted Jul 21, 21 20:03 by Tim O'Connor (drtimo)

Western Way

Lawrence and others, WW is a rare designation for a Way letter harvested by the Post rider heading East, ie from the West. EW eastern way are seen from the Portsmouth NH area. The 2 known WW are from New London. Archival examples of both reside in the Historical Society of Penna. This from Lyme Conn. rated 1 dwt 8gr = 4pence Sterling. It is a Norwich Subscription Post letter, and the 6d (Conn. money) is the price for transport from New London to Norwich. The final fee of 1/ (Conn. money) includes the Conn. money equivalent of the 1 d 8gr (6p). Again, I'm indebted to John Olenkiewicz for his research into this area. Tim


Posted Jul 21, 21 19:19 by Brian Buru (brianb)

rates vs weights

Tim, in England the “per ounce” rule was enforced by an Act of Parliament with the establishment of the Post Office of England in 1657. This applied equally to Scotland and to Ireland from the same year (if not prior), and almost certainly also to the American Colonies from 1711…..there was no good reason to amend it.

Posted Jul 21, 21 15:19 by Mark Schwartz (schwamoo)

CT rates

Larry, The "6" is actually a "d" for "11d", and I think is the rate in lawful British Money. The 2.16 is the rate in coined silver (penny weight and grains), which was the official specie for mailed letters. I believe that the 1/5 is 1 shilling, 5 pence in local Connecticut paper money, used as many folks did not have even coined silver and used scrip.

Posted Jul 21, 21 14:41 by Lawrence Haber (ldhaber)

CT rates

I have sort of caught up on the discussion regarding rates in CT and have an interesting cover to share.

It's a 1766 cover from New Haven to Lebanon, CT by way of New London.

In the upper right you'll note a "WW" for west way and next to that "2.16". That is 2 dwt and 16 grains, ie the rate for two sheets under 60 miles. The modern distance between New Haven and New London is c.48 miles.

Some what more interesting in the upper left you will see "6" "1/5" and below these "11".

I would suggest that the "11" is 11d equivalence for 2:16 in CT currency, the "6" is the fee for the carriage, private, from New London to Lebanon, there being no PO in Lebanon at the time. Then the "1/5" is clearly the sum of 11d and 6d or 17d or 1 shilling and 5 pence, ie 1/5.

It would appear that the writing in the left is intended to provide a full rating, at the time, for this cover and its conversion into CT currency.

Make sense?



Posted Jul 21, 21 14:34 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

A Cute PM Free Frank, c. 1817

Folks have posted some PM Freefranks......

Below is one that I have always enjoyed, c.1817.

Despite the notations on the cover, by the previous owner, this is not unique.

I purchased in the Fisher Sale conducted by Shreve, pre-Spink.


Posted Jul 21, 21 14:16 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

The West Way Cover


So the "WW' lives with you? One of my top 10 Colonial covers! Lucky man.

Posted Jul 21, 21 13:30 by Lawrence Haber (ldhaber)

CT rates

I have sort of caught up on the discussion regarding rates in CT and have an interesting cover to share.

It's a 1766 cover from New Haven to Lebanon, CT by way of New London.

In the upper right you'll note a "WW" for west way and next to that "2.16". That is 2 dwt and 16 grains, ie the rate for two sheets under 60 miles. The modern distance between New Haven and New London is c.48 miles.

Some what more interesting in the upper left you will see "6" "1/5" and below these "11".

I would suggest that the "11" is 11d equivalence for 2:16 in CT currency, the "6" is the fee for the carriage, private, from New London to Lebanon, there being no PO in Lebanon at the time. Then the "1/5" is clearly the sum of 11d and 6d or 17d or 1 shilling and 5 pence, ie 1/5.

It would appear that the writing in the left is intended to provide a full rating, at the time, for this cover and its conversion into CT currency.

Make sense?



Posted Jul 21, 21 11:17 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Pure peny post not a penny! Mixed use a peny.

There was a peny into the peny post and a peny for delivery.  So typical peny post cover  (peny spelling in the relevant law) was tupence.  At some earlyish point, a weight limit of 4 0z was imposed.  This London, but the service was expanded and America got included.  Letters arriving in the post paid only the one addtional peny. 

Posted Jul 21, 21 11:11 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

PM free mail

This is entirely legitimate.   Except cod 1845-7 and after mid 1863 the DPMs had the franking privilege for personal, including business, letters.   They couldn't sent other people's letters free and I think it did not apply to printed matter in this period.

Posted Jul 21, 21 7:53 by Tim O'Connor (drtimo)

rates vs weights

Brian, there's a lot of truth to what you say, so well done. I've seen weight notations of 1 oz. and greater and so far, none less. The Act of Anne 1711 first mentions the word "ounce" in the context of rates for pacquets of letters, writs, deeds et al, so presumably Government officials trusted that Postmasters had some way of performing the measurement. Franklin and Hunter in their 1753 "Instructions to Postmasters", Item 4, tell Postmasters to be careful assigning the correct rate based on distance and weight. Again, Ben and John thought to PMs had a measurement system. I don't think it's too much of a leap to think scales are ubiquitous. Attached is one from 1747 from Charlestown SC, with the alchemical notation for 1 oz in the upper left of the address panel. This letter would have been expensive for the Church had it not been carried privately. The thrifty Society was probably thrilled to pay only a penny. Tim


Posted Jul 21, 21 7:18 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

PM free mail



Posted Jul 21, 21 7:17 by Richard Matta (rkmatta)

PM free mail

David Snow - I used to own a number of Sandy Spring, MD covers including various free uses by the PM up until the 1850s. The one below is earlier but shows that he was using his PM privilege solely for commercial purposes - he was marketing corporate seals and enclosed an example. Being a good and well-known Quaker I'm sure he wasn't blatantly breaking rules, maybe bending a bit?


Posted Jul 20, 21 19:43 by Gordon Eubanks (gordon)

San Diego Stamp Show

Mark, congrats and congratulations on putting this together!!

We need stamp shows!

Posted Jul 20, 21 0:44 by Mark Banchik (mbanchik)

San Diego Stamp Show website live!

Our website is live! October 8 - 10, 2021

Exhibit & Bourse Applications/Information available. La Jolla Marriott; special show rate - link on website.

Local sightseeing information available. Continuous website enhancement - check back often

Posted Jul 19, 21 20:08 by Brian Buru (brianb)

Colonial Weight Rates

My understanding is that enclosures were only charged by weight provided they were deemed to weigh one ounce or more. In theory, even a single sheet could qualify, but in reality it normally only applied to a number of sheets. Such were charged at a “per ounce” (plus part thereof) rate, equivalent to four single sheet distance based rates. Thankfully, postal reforms eventually changed all that to a purely weight based system.

Posted Jul 19, 21 19:23 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

3.17 dw g and all of that

1)  The weight of the letter equalling (and may have changed a bit over 1/4 milleniium) 3.14 dwt gr is rather nice.  But if so, it has nothing to do with the post, as suggested by Tim.  No one would have thought it weighed over an ounce.   Moreover, it looks like the notation may have been added by the recipient,  which makes me think it was likely not a kid playing around with a balance.    Payment by wieght was part of the QA rate structure.
2)   About 20 years ago I suggested to Tim that the 1712 1 1/2ounce cover might have gone through the post office, as why else would it be marded with the 1 1/2 oz?   Howsomever,  under QA 9, there is no provision for charging port of entry ship letters (incoming ship drops) progressively (indeed the law is vague -- the captain gets 1d.  The charge to the recipient is not specified!  !!   !!!)  The theory then could still be right, but only if there was some sort of invented charge structure in play.
The 1792 Act was nowhere effective until June 1 (technically june 2).
The letter was also rebagged at Boston.
PS.  I do have examples of the Colonial Norwich subscription post, Norwich penny post, and Lebanon subsription post available in stock for sale. 

Posted Jul 19, 21 16:48 by David Snow (dwsnow)

One more

Here is another example (also 1859) of free mail, as indicated by ms. "Post Master" at upper right. To same addressee, from same sender. Not in my collection. I am amazed that generous privilege was given to postmasters.


Posted Jul 19, 21 16:44 by David Snow (dwsnow)

free mail delivered by Blood's Despatch

Here is a later (1859) example of a cover marked "P.M." at upper right, as on my folded letter, and appropriately handstamped "Free" by the Phila. post office. This cover is not in my collection.


Posted Jul 19, 21 16:35 by David Snow (dwsnow)

free mail

I just posted this 1851 folded letter addressed to a postmaster, to-the-mails use in Philadelphia by Blood's Despatch. See Cover ID 29133 for full story.

What indicates that it was sent free is the "P.M." manuscript marking, and absence of a rate marking. Surprisingly, the Philadelphia post office did not mark it as free. In my next postings I will show examples where such outgoing mail to the Phila post office, delivered by Blood's, was handstamped "Free". 

What I did not realize is that evidently mail addressed to a postmaster from anyone was sent free at the time. Even for non-official business. Can someone confirm that was indeed the case, and if such incoming free mail privilege to postmasters ended when the franking privilege was abolished in 1873. That was quite a perk for a postmaster, while it lasted. Thank you in advance.

As a side note, I never cease to be amazed at the biographical information available online for historical research. For example, check out this link for information about the addressee of this letter, which confirms that Alexander Armstrong was the town's postmaster. Scroll down to "Armstrong", look at 2nd paragraph lines 3-4. Excerpt: "Mr. (Alexander) Armstrong was the postmaster at this place from receipt of his commission from President Tyler until his death . . . "  Source: book published in 1903.


Posted Jul 19, 21 15:01 by Nick Lombardi (nick lombardi)

NOJEX 2021

NOJEX will hold its 56th annual North Jersey Philatelic Exhibition during the weekend of October 15th through 17th, Friday to Sunday, at the Meadowlands Hilton Hotel, 2 Meadowlands Plaza, East Rutherford, NJ 07073 located right off Route 3 East and the New Jersey Turnpike. This World Series of Philately Show will host the annual meetings of the United States Stamp Society, the Eire Philatelic Association, the Society of Israel Philatelists, the Bermuda Collectors Society, the New Jersey Postal History Society and the Mid-Atlantic Federation of Postal History Societies.

There will be more than 200 frames of multi-frame and one frame exhibits, The awards will be presented at the Saturday night awards banquet. The multi-frame Grand Award winner will be eligible to compete in the 2022 APS Champion of Champions Competition to be held in Sacramento, California, in August 2022, while the single frame Grand Award winner will be eligible to compete in the Single Frame C of C also in 2022. The NOJEX Prospectus and Entry forms are available on the NOJEX website,

The bourse will be home to more than 40 dealers offering a full range of philatelic material. There will also be a number of presentations made during the course of the show covering topics which are sure to be of interest.

Both the show and the banquet are on-site at the host hotel. The hotel is offering a special rate of $149 per night plus free parking. To obtain this room rate contact the hotel at (201) 896-0500 and request Group Code NOJ14A or use this link:,WW,HILTONLINK,EN,DirectLink&fromId=HILTONLINKDIRECT

Be sure to check the NOJEX website at to get additional information about the show as it becomes available.

Posted Jul 19, 21 8:47 by Tim O'Connor (drtimo)

weights for rates

OK, found another, this one from St. John's Newfoundland 1712, which is quite early. The text mentions "enclosed letters" asking the Merchant firm to "forward as soon as possible". There is no clear indication as to who placed the weight notation. Ship's Captain, author or Merchants are possibility, but not the Postmaster, lacking a Boston town marking and corresponding Sterling rate. Tim


Posted Jul 19, 21 5:14 by Tim O'Connor (drtimo)


All, Colonial rates as began with the Neale Patent in 1693, were usually based on distance to be travelled, and the number of sheets, one sheet = single, 2 = double etc. Weight markings are unusual, and I'm not sure when they started. Antique scales for weighing letters are interesting adjuncts to postal history, but I don't know when Post Offices became equipped with such. Attached is a quadruple weight from 1774. Tim


Posted Jul 18, 21 18:49 by Galen Radebaugh (gwradebaugh)

1792 letter

Let me add more data & thoughts to the discussion. I weighed the letter and it weighs 5.6 grams. As reference 1g = 15.4gr in Troy or Avoirdupois.  5.6g  = 3 dwt 13gr = 0.177 oz Troy, or 0.187oz Av.  Prior to the Act of Feb 20, 1792, P.O.s had counter-weights in Troy (for payment in silver) for their balances. After the Act of 1792, they were required to weigh letters in Avoirdupois, so they had counter-weights for Troy & Av, or they had conversion charts for Troy to Av.  The letter, datelined Feb 17, 1792 is datestamped Feb 24 (not Feb 21 as I previously reported), and was received in Lebanon 2 days later, Feb 26.  Amazingly fast even with today's transportation.  Its very unlikely that the 3 P.O.s in the delivery chain (Portsmouth, New London, Norwich) would have implemented the Act in the time needed for this letter.  So based on the conversation so far,  it appears the 2:16 rate in specie was applied in Portsmouth based on 200-300 miles; the 3.17 (the letter was weighed in Troy to confirm the letter weighed less than 1 ounce) was applied in New London; and the 1/ was applied in Norwich to compensate for delivery and local currency.  Or maybe, Norwich was left out of the delivery chain altogether, and 1/ was applied by a delivery service from New  London.  The delivery and local currency part is least understood by me.  OK, shoot.

Posted Jul 18, 21 11:27 by Rob Faux (robfaux)

Trip to Rome

This week's Postal History Sunday includes a trip to Rome and back.
I hope everyone has a great day!

Posted Jul 17, 21 19:24 by Tim O'Connor (drtimo)

Currency confusion

Bernard, I've attached a Doctor Wheelock letter that, I believe, illustrates your point. NY to new London was rated 8p Sterling in 1768, expressed in specie as 2 dwt 16 grains. The Connecticut equivalent was 11d Conn. "mony". It traveled up the Thames River (or along beside it) with a rider as part of the Norwich Newspaper Post, a Subscription Post as John Olenkiewicz wrote in his Conn. Postal History Journal article. The final charge was 1/5 (in a reddish ink) in Conn. money, which included an extra 6d added to the 11d, total 17 d. This interesting, independent Subscription Post has 2-3 other examples. Tim


Posted Jul 17, 21 12:10 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Numerology Rules

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. 
With unique items -- the 3.17, one should me modest.  The 11 or 1/ is a conundrum -- but the earlier 11s are clearly understood (they come with the extra 6d subscription rate added to give an additional 1/5 marking).  
The bogus rates of New England are well supported and the New England Old Tenor analysis is based on many overs over time and space  --  it was ithe basis of an exhibit about 30 years ago and has been generally adopted, although not always with full understanding.

Posted Jul 16, 21 4:26 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Numerology Rules

With enough combinations / permutations possible, one can make any desired outcome out of any large enough set of numbers. ...

Posted Jul 15, 21 22:41 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

1792 to Lebanon

   Yes to the analysis.  Mostly.  Lebanon had no USPO at the time..  The conversion of 2.16 is 11d local.  That looks more like 1/ than 11 -- I would be mildly surprised if they rounded up to 12.  I suppose there could be a penny post charge to get it to a forwarder, but that is a stretch. During the Colonial period, the New London (no Norwich PO yet) conversion on 2,16 was 11d local.  The 3.17 is  extremely weird -- not clear that it has anything to do with carriage.  It would be 11d plus stg or 15- d local.  If it were included  forwarding that portion would be 4d local.  
   There was at least one  private post charging 6d local in 1787 in Connecticut (to Ashford or thereabouts).  The  3.17 does not look like a letter charge.  Unless there was a payment in actual silver weighed out.  If so, probably unique docketing.
    Note the apparent 2 day transit, including pickup at Norwich or forwarding from Norwich.  Seems awfully fast, but not quite impossible.
    What I never thought of until reading the comment on 3.17 equaling almost 6g was that the cost of sending a letter could be more than its weight in silver. 
   Note that the Portsmouth 1721 cover is a very late use to Boston before the (Old) Tenor rates came in.  The rate is illegal.  A similar cover in the Jordan article, but to Newport was the key that let me crack the Old Tenor rates, although much additional analysis was required.  You had to know that an illegal rate was buried in the main mass of covers which were to Newport from Boston.  Turned out the ohter common rate, the ship rate, was doubly illegal.  There is a story that someone found that cover on eBay at a very favorable ticket, and, instead of buying it outright, was about to make an offer when sanity prevailed.  A gorgeous item indeed.

Posted Jul 14, 21 15:58 by Tim Henninger (pälzer)

Württemberg cover

Yes, Sören is right, the envelope has nothing to do with the postal-area of the kingdom of Saxony, it was mailed from Geradstetten, today a district of the municipalty of Remshalden in Württemberg Württemberg became kingdom at 1806-01-01 and joined the German Empire at 1871-01-01 but held it`s own postal-sovereignty - with it`s own stamps - till 1920-03-31. The Kreuzer envelope-stationaries from Württemberg were issued with 1, 3, 6 und 9 Kreuzer values between 1862 till 1871 and remained in course until 1875-07-01, when the south-german Gulden rhinish (= 60 Kr) were replaced by the german Mark (= 100 Pfennig). To analyse when the envelope was exactly issued I need to see the whole backside with the flap-mark, which were different. 9 Kr rate with 3 Kr for the GAPU and 6 Kr = 1 2/3 Silbergroschen (SGr) credit was the one via Hamburg or Bremen, everything perfect. Regards Tim

Posted Jul 14, 21 15:42 by Leonard Piszkiewicz (lenp99)

Württemberg postal stationery

Somehow my research got confused. Geradstetten is a suburb of Remshalden, apparently in Wurttemberg, but there's a Remshalden in Saxony, if you believe Google. Must be the one in Wurttemberg. Thanks, David.

Posted Jul 14, 21 15:27 by Sören Andersson (sorena)

Württemberg cover

Both Geradstetten and Grunbach are quite small places located near Stuttgart in Württemberg so I think this cover is sent from the state of Württemberg. But it is still an interesting question how German foreign mail was handeled before 1871 if mailed with stamps from another state than it was sent from.

Posted Jul 14, 21 14:46 by David Snow (dwsnow)

Württemberg postal stationery

Len P.,

Here is another Württemberg postal entire (1864 use) in my collection, 3 kr domestic rate, for comparison purposes. Use within the Kingdom of Württemberg. Note same green diagonal printing at upper right, and on back. Your example evidently is a legitimate use of the 9 kr. treaty rate to U.S. in 1872. Insofar as it being mailed in Saxony, I am not sure of the postal regulations of using such stationery, or stamps for that matter, from another part of the German Empire (convertability). Before the formation of the German Empire in 1870 both Kingdoms were part of the North German Confederation.  Maybe someone else can comment.

Actually, Geradstetten, where your example is postmarked from, is described online as "quarter of Remshalden, Baden-Württemberg, Germany", not Saxony. However, the backstamp from Grünbach is from Vogtlandkreis district in Saxony. I assume that is a transit marking. I am guessing your cover was routed north by railroad to Hamburg to get on a steamer for America.

See Cover ID 28678.


Posted Jul 14, 21 12:51 by Leonard Piszkiewicz (lenp99)

Germany to USA cover question

Here's a Württemberg stamped envelope that appears to have been mailed in Saxony. Was this a legal use of this postal stationery in 1872? How did that work for German states?


Posted Jul 14, 21 9:56 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

What An Important and Beautiful Cover You Posted


That is a wonderful P4 cover; quite early 1720/21 I believe. Must have come from EBay!


Posted Jul 14, 21 8:04 by Tim O'Connor (drtimo)

Act of Queen Anne 1711 rates

Brian, thanks for your map. It's a useful guide as long as the numbers aren't viewed as absolutes. The Act named rates between certain towns, Boston to Piscataqua (Portsmouth New Hampshire) for instance, which are further than 60 miles apart. The stated rates for these named Towns, rather than measured distance, is the gold standard. Tim


Posted Jul 13, 21 20:54 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Philatelic Resources

I guess some time has passed since I last reminded readers that there is a good page of links to rates, etc on my webpage here:

When in doubt, go to the home page and use the search function at bottom of the page. There is a lot of good information on the site that is not easily found without the search function.

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