Notes from the Past

Foreign Mail Handling

Mail addressed to foreign destinations in 1847 required special handling.  The Post Office Department encouraged routing such mail to four principal ports.  Use of this routing was favored since ships were paid by the post office that made up the mail and handed it over to the vessel.  The regulations for handling foreign mail were outlined 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 62.

Distribution of Foreign Mails.

    458.  The principal Post Offices for the despatch and receipt of foreign mails are the cities of Boston, New York, Charleston, and New Orleans.

CHAPTER 63.

Foreign Mails -- How Made Up.

    459.  When a letter is placed in a Post Office to be sent to a foreign country, postage on it must be paid to the seaport, except letters and packets sent to the British American Provinces, and those to Bremen, in Germany, by the New York and Bremen line of mail steamers, and those places in Europe to which mail matter will be sent by said line through the Bremen Post Office.
    460.  Postmasters at seaports will always receive letters that are offered for places beyond sea.  The letters so received together with those that come in the mail, addressed to foreign countries, should be marked with the name of the office, and the time of reception.
    461.  As soon as the postmaster finds that a vessel is ready to sail, which will be convenient to carry letters to the place of their destination, he will carefully examine all such letters, and see that there are none among them destined to another place.  He will then count them, and enter their number in a bill.  If there be few letters, and no bag for them furnished by the master of the vessel, they may be made into a bundle like a common mail, taking care to enclose the certificate with them, and sealing the wrapper with the office seal.  If a bag be furnished, the string is to be sealed with the office seal.  And if there be many letters, and no bag furnished by the master of the vessel, the postmaster will furnish one, and charge it to the Department.
    462.  The postmaster will obtain from the master of a ship, a certificate, specifying the number of letters and packets, with the name of the ship or vessel, and place from whence she last sailed, and a receipt for the money paid.
    463.  He will mark the number forwarded to other offices, and the number for delivery at his own office on each certificate.
    464.  He will then enter them in the Account of ship and steamboat letters.

Posted July 13, 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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