Notes from the Past

Alaska Covers

One seldom sees covers used with U. S. stamps in Alaska dated prior to 1898.  The earliest I have seen were covers bearing the 3¢ 1869, one use June 13, 1870, in the Hollowbush collection, both postmarked "Sitka, Alaska T." in a black circle, coupled with a black target device, of the style widely used throughout the United States in the period.

Alaska was purchased from Russia by the Treaty of March 30, 1867, and the census of 1870 gave the total population as 461 whites, no effort being made to count the Eskimos.  The mail out of Alaska at this early period must have been few and far between.  The Sitka district was densely timbered and must have been very isolated in 1870, and the first Americans to enter this district, other than a few Russian trappers, were Indian traders who arrived in the Spring of 1870.

These early Alaska covers would have to be ranked as among the rarest or most difficult, in Territorial postmarkings.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
July 16, 1938

  Posted December 17, 1999

Editor's Note:  See previous note concerning Earliest Alaska Cover.  

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