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Posted Apr 2, 21 12:04 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Direct to Canton

July 1st direct ..... the Carrington for Canton


Posted Apr 2, 21 10:31 by Mark Schwartz (schwamoo)

My 12/31/46 cover via Aden to Canton

I was finally able to track the voyage down. Dateline 12/31/46 in NY; sent via Harnden to Boston Cunard Cambria left Boston on 1/1 and arrived at Liverpool on 1/15 The P&O Ripon left Southampton on 1/20; Gibraltar 1/30; Malta 2/15; Alexandria (Kirk has no date) P&O Hindostan left Suez on 3/4; reached Aden on 2/21-22; and Galle on 3/4 P&O Braganza left Galle the same day; trailed via Penang and Singapore and arrived at HK on 3/23. Docketing indicates that it arrived at Canton on 3/24.

I still do not understand why it was put into the Aden post office. Do the 2/21-22 dates for Aden indicated that the ship remained in port overnight? Seems strange, but could the letter have been put into the Aden post office for safekeeping?

Posted Apr 2, 21 7:34 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

The Canton Covers by Harnden


The "undercover" letter I posted did not go by P&O steamers to Aden.

The covers to Canton via GB involving Harnden are fairly well known and studied in philately for 100 years by some of the best. Though not many Canton letters survive, at the time there was a fairly large number being handled by Harnden. Harnden's office in Liverpool handled the pieces from/to the US and had predetermined methods for routing, etc. It also requires a knowledge of where the markings were applied, and when.

Harnden was, in this case, a mail forwarder in Boston and New York offering a (most of the time) prepaid to destination service starting in 1839. This became practical and easy with the passing of the new comprehensive postal laws in early 1840 for GB applying to the entire Empire.

Another thing that helps is looking at mails that partially went the same routings but to destinations such as India, Zanzabar, Cylon, Java, Egypt, etc.

Rather than get into the weeds here you can contact me offline and we can discuss and I can suggest some things to read. I can also show you examples of some of the other destinations I reference above.

Hope this helps.

Posted Apr 1, 21 22:16 by Winston Williams (winstonw)

US to Canton China paid by Harndens 1846 & 1849

We now have four covers from the US to Canton (two each of 1846 & 1849), each having Harnden city marking(s) and a separate H&Co Paid mark, and each endorsed “Overland” in some form lower left in the handwriting of the person writing the address.

Ron’s November 1849 cover did not to overland via France. It went the cheaper route via Southampton. That makes me query whether any of the four went overland via France, including Mark’s 1846 cover, which I previously said went via France due to its “Overland” route marking. With no British Post Office postal markings applied in England I suggest it was carried privately by a passenger on the P&O steamer service from Southampton to Aden on his way to India (possibly the Indian West coast). Ditto Ron’s 1846 cover.

I will even go so far as to suggest Ron’s July 1849 cover could have never gone via Europe and went by private ship direct to Canton via the Cape of Good Hope and perhaps then through the Sunda Straight. Harnden pocketing the money for the more expensive overland route via France? Something to sleep on before you all shoot me...

Posted Apr 1, 21 22:11 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

NY to China

Maybe the logical solution is not the right one after all.  Comm. Adv. July 12.  Also no go for sailings of the 13th and 14th.
Still curious where the charge account? marking was put on.
Added -- but I don't find a departure from Boston either.....
On the 16th there is a clearance for Shanghai from NYC.  I don't think that is much of a fit.


Posted Apr 1, 21 22:01 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

NY to China

I think Richard's explanation may make more sense, except that it would be surprising for NYC to use a CDS on port of exit letters in this period.  But that doesn't mean they didn't do it.

Posted Apr 1, 21 19:25 by Kent Halland (postalnoteguy1)

Paper Trails

Ordered mine yesterday, book store (B&N), they say the book shipped today.

I will be looking forward to reading it.

Posted Apr 1, 21 18:08 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Ron's July 1849 cover -- very cool

Ron, that looks like July 11 at New York.   These are very strange covers.  Is the shield marking a charge account at New York?  The lack of a rate marking indicates streamlined handling of mass mailings at New York.   I call this time saver "short marking." Different from downstreaming at Boston of Cunard letters (mischaracterized by Dick Winter and a certain hardliner we know and love) but with the same thrust.  New York also downstreamed some Great Western and Cunard letters.  Short marking is also found at Boston in the late 40s (and some offices in the 1770s, etc., etc.)  I had noticed something screwy about some late Harnden's stuff, but it is now a little clearer and very interesting. This is sort of a late parallel to the special arrangement they had in the early 40s. 
If that shield is not a charge account instruction at NYC, I am left asea.

Posted Apr 1, 21 17:58 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

Harnden’s to Far East

Ron -I would say by Harndens out of the mails to NYC and paid one cent private ship fee for outbound carriage (direct to China). Check sailings for ships to Canton ....

Posted Apr 1, 21 17:09 by Mark Schwartz (schwamoo)

Aden Cover

Thanks to Ron and Winston, as well as two others who contacted me off-board. I think my confusion began with the "p overland mail" directive. and did not realize that it meant overland to Marseilles. I am familiar with the "via Marseilles" markings used on letters from the U.S. a few years later to distinguish the overland route rather than by sea from Southampton. So the "p overland mail" threw me.

The question that seems to remain is why after it reached Alexandria and then Suez, was it sent via the post office at Aden instead of taking P&O steamers from Suez eastward eventually to Hong Kong, and then overland to Canton.

Posted Apr 1, 21 16:35 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

US to Canton China, 1849 Partially Undercover

While I have folks' attention I would like to show an interesting cover also to Canton in 1849.

Does anyone have ideas for a better description than I have? Or even why this would have been done.

NOTE: The wear and soiling on the exterior white envelope confirms that the green envelope was inside for an extended period of time.


Posted Apr 1, 21 16:09 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

U.S. via Aden to China - Date May Matter 1849

In the post below I showed an 1846 example....the one here is an 1849 example.

I do not have my references here so this is from memory. I believed the service out of Southampton to Alexandria started around 1848 or 1849. Harnden changed the routing to go by ship out of Southampton rather than by rail through France. Note Harndens, maybe in Liverpool marked the letter "Via Southampton ... Paid". Then applied the small red shield "PAID H& Co." confirming paid to a destination within the British Mails.

Once it arrived in Alexandria the routing was virtually the same as before by camel to Aden where the transit mark was applied and the by ship for Hong Kong, then up the river. Winston is correct that the actual sailings could have included stops in Cylon and/or Singapore; no markings since the bag from Aden was probably closed.


Posted Apr 1, 21 15:49 by Roland Cipolla (roncipolla)

U.S. via Aden to China - Date May Matter 1846


Whenever I see a Harnden Cover to China my juices get flowing. I have researched these for the last 15 years and I believe Harnden sent the China letters two different ways depending on the timeframe. Early on, as your is in 1846, I believe they were sent "overland" meaning from England overland to Marseilles, by ship to Alexandria Egypt - then overland by camels to Suez the across the Red Sea to Aden.

The Aden transit mark, which is by the British Maritime Markings book, is quite scarce. It would be on a ship directly sailing Hong Kong. Then it was sent up the river to Canton.

The example pictured below is also from 1846. The markings are similar to your cover.

The next post will show an 1849 example where the routing changed.


Posted Apr 1, 21 15:35 by Winston Williams (winstonw)

U.S. via Aden to China


Per overland was the instruction to the British Post Office to send it over France by land (to Marseille) rather than by sea through the Straights of Gibraltar. It was quicker and more expensive.

So its route from Liverpool to Aden was train to London & on to Dover, over the Channel to Boulogne (or possibly Calais), then via Paris to Marseille. From there by admiralty packet steamship via Malta to Alexandria, overland (I think by camel) to Suez, then steamer to Aden.

What surprises me is that I don't see any British Post Office manuscript paid marking, given that Harnden in Liverpool appear to have paid it to destination.

After Aden I expect it went by the relatively new contact steamer service via Galle (on Ceylon), but can't help you further - but I imagine via Singapore. I have a cover going the other way to Boston a few years later.

Posted Apr 1, 21 13:41 by Mark Schwartz (schwamoo)

U.S. via Aden to China

I need some help with this cover. Sent from New York via Harnden at the end of 1846, it first went to Boston, then by Cunard to the U.K. My understanding, by the "P overland mail" and the Aden handstand, is that it went by some overland route to Aden where it caught P&O Steamers to Hong Kong, and then was sent to Canton.

Can you tell me in more detail how it got across Europe and Asia to Aden?


Posted Apr 1, 21 12:44 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Access to Census Records

The National Archives is crowing about the opening of the 1950 records next year (which will bring some of us into inspectability to add to our respectability).  This link, when you click on a given year, shows various online sources for the data (pre 1950). is one that gives basic access in convenient form, but does charge for full data.

Posted Apr 1, 21 12:35 by Bernard Biales (bernard b)

Private Offices

The animation of the Helbock data is amusing.  There is a question I have.  In the early days --  around 1800 -- there was a small number of "private" offices.  These were authorized by the GPO, but managed privately.  I assumed that had faded out over time, but Robert D. H. and Diane D. told me that there was an enormous number of these offices in the late 19th century (and beyond???).  Did Helbock capture these offices?

Posted Apr 1, 21 9:34 by george dekornfeld (docgfd)

Paper Trails

"Out of Stock."

Posted Mar 31, 21 16:42 by Dave Savadge (nomad55)

Getting caught up after a rather unfortunate hospital stay - emergency surgery to remove half my colon and the appendix. Of course, I missed the Siegel auction (Rats!) Sometimes my timing sucks.

Posted Mar 31, 21 16:34 by Chip Gliedman (cgliedman)

Paper Trails

FYI - Here's the Table of Contents:
Note on Methods
Introduction: The Gossamer Network
1. Geography and State Power
2. Stories and Structures
3. Postal Maps, 1860- 83
4. Mail Routes and the Costs of Expansion, 1866- 83
5. The Post Office Window, 1880- 92
6. Money Orders and National Integration, 1864- 95
7. Rural Free Delivery, 1896- 1913
Conclusion: The Modern American State

Posted Mar 31, 21 16:07 by Chip Gliedman (cgliedman)

U.S. Post Offices 1792-2000

New book due to be released tomorrow on the Post Office and the expansion across the continent: Paper Trails - The US Post and the Making of the American West

by Cameron Blevins

It's based on the work that Richard Helbock did in recording every Post Office and its dates of operation. This dataset was coded into a map that allows one to view the westward expansion through the lens of the Post Office.

Animation of that dataset is here

The dataset is now available for others to use.


Posted Mar 30, 21 19:50 by Jeff Brahin (brahin)


Rob- thanks, and I suspect that your second answer is probably correct.

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