Notes from the Past

The Duties of the Postmasters - Part V

The next step for the postmaster was to open the packets of mail which he found in the mail bag which had just arrived.  Again, this process was described in the Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department included in Postal Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department published in 1847 as follows:
CHAPTER 11.

Opening the mail.

    97.  Upon the arrival of the mail, at any post office, the packets addressed to that office, and none other, will be opened and the postmaster will find in each one a bill of the contents, called a post bill.  Compare this will with the contents, and if they do not agree, note upon the bill the amount of the difference, and whether undercharged or overcharged.
    98.  Every postmaster will then look over the letters thus received, to see if the postages be properly charged or marked on them, and correct the rates on the letters, where he sees mistakes, noting the amount corrected on the bill, as under or overcharged.
    99.  If the postmaster observes any letters that are not within his delivery, and are missent to his office, he will put them in the proper place to be forwarded, noting on the bill the amount forwarded, and writing on the letter the worded "missent and forwarded," with the date.  They should be forwarded by the first mail.  [Here is a stampless cover that illustrates this regulation.]
    100.  Upon making up the mail it is the duty of every postmaster when he is of opinion, or has good reason to believe, that any letter has been illegally franked, to erase the frank, and charge the same with the legal postage; and the postmaster at the office of delivery of any letter which he believes has been illegally franked, is directed to charge such letter with the legal postage; and if upon an exhibition of any letter franked and rated with postage upon which postage has been charged and collected, it shall appear, that the same was a letter rightfully and legally franked by the person who wrote it, or if written by another at the request of him who franks it, upon the business of the office of the person franking, the postage will be refunded, and the proper entries made.
   101.  These examinations having been made, the postmaster is ready to deliver the letters, newspapers, &c.

To be continued.

Posted June 24, 2000

Editor's Note:  Modern philatelists are indebted to Theron Wierenga who republished this volume in 1980.  Italics follow the original.

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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