Notes from the Past

Earthquake Letters from San Francisco, 1906

With the wreck of a number of post offices, through the earthquake and fire which devastated San Francisco in 1906, and the subsequent demand for postage stamps which could not be supplied, the Post Office Department waived all regulations, and for about a week following the catastrophe, ruled that all mail out of the stricken city could be sent post-free.

Letters were written on scraps of paper, cuffs, collars, shingles, and bits of anything that would carry a written message, but all went through free.

In a miscellany collection of mine, I have a couple of these letters.  One is mailed without a postage stamp, from the Presidio Station, San Francisco, April 27, 1906, and was carried to [its] destination free.  The other one, dated April 25, was addressed to Philadelphia, but the postmaster there was apparently unaware of the suspension of regulations, and attached a 2 postage due stamp.  

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
August 31. 1935

Posted July 27, 1999

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