Notes from the Past

Postage Rates in 1847 - Part II

The postage rates in 1847 provided special handling of mail handled by ships and steamboats.  Ship's masters operated their vessels as shipping businesses and mail was legitimate cargo.  The regulations and postage revenue recording requirements for such letters were provided by Postal Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Post Office Department published in 1847 as follows:
CHAPTER 16.

Postage on Ship and Steamboat Letters.

     122.  All ship letters and packets are to be charged with a postage of six cents each, when delivered from the office at which they are first received; when forwarded in the mail to other offices, with two cents, in addition to the ordinary rates of postage.  They should all be marked "Ship," at the time of receiving them.  This applies to all letters and packets brought by vessels from foreign countries, as well as those conveyed from one port to another in the United States over routes not declared post roads.
    123.  Masters of foreign packets are not to be paid any thing for letters delivered into the office; such letters are, notwithstanding, to be charged with postage, when delivered from the office, or forwarded by mail.
    125.  The above rates of postage are not to be increased on letters and packets, carried in a privates ship or vessel, from one port in the United states to another, though a part of the voyage be over water declared to be post road.  Thus, the Mississippi river from New Orleans to the mouth, is a post road; yet letters carried by ship between New Orleans and any other port in the United States are subject to the usual ship letter postage.  But if the whole of the water between any two ports, be a post road by law, then inland postage will be charged.
    126.  Letters and packets that are carried on any of the waters of the United States, in packets, under an arrangement with the Department are subject to the same postage as if carried in the mail overland.
    127.  If a letter be received as above, to be sent in the mail to another office, there will be charged the proper rate of postage for the distance between the place at which the letter was placed on board the boat, and the office to which it is addressed.  Letters brought by steamboats should be marked "Steamboat," at the time of receiving them.
    128.  For every letter received by a postmaster at a sea port, to be conveyed to a foreign country, there shall be paid to the postmaster one cent.--Act of 1825, sec. 34.
    129.  The master (except of a foreign packet) is to be paid two cents for each letter and packet delivered by him, except to ports on Lake Erie, where one cent is to be paid to the master, and except where special contracts are made.
    130.  If the letters be delivered into the post office by a passenger or sailor, and not in behalf of the master, nothing is to be paid for them; they are, nevertheless, to be charged with ship letter postage, and the number entered in the account of ship letters, with the name of the vessel in which they were brought.
    131.  For every letter or packet, delivered by the master of a steamboat, every postmaster will pay him two cents, or one cent if on Lake Erie, unless his boat carried letters and packets under a contract with the Department.  He will take the receipt of the master, specifying the number of letters, and the places from which they were brought.  Act of 1825, sec. 6.
    132.  On ship letters and packets, two cents are to be charged in addition to the ordinary rates when mailed for other places.
    133.  The account of steamboat letters received, with the sums paid for them, and the postage on such, as are to be delivered from the office is to be kept in the account of ship and steamboat letters received, and as the account of ship letters.

To Be Continued.

Posted August 31, 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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