Today in Postal History

Syria to France
February 5, 1875

This folded letter was sent from the French post office in Beirut, Syria, in the Turkish Empire.
The letter bears a sender's oval handstamp for J.K. Fourie & Cie.

 The right of resident foreigners to run their own postal services in the Turkish Empire
were based on the 'Capitulations' negotiated in trade treaties starting in 1535.
Nearly all mail leaving the Turkish Empire (also known as the Ottoman Empire)
exited through foreign post offices established under these terms.

Until 1885 French stamps were used and the origination was identified
by postal markings, in particular the lozenge of dots numeral cancel.
For this cover, the lozenge of dots numeral for Beirut, 5082, is hardly readable.*
However, we have the benefit a readable CDS for Beirut.

The letter is franked with an 1872 80c perforated rose on pinkish paper Ceres (Scotty 63).
This franking earned the letter a boxed PD indicating that it was paid to its destination.

The destination of the letter was Lyon inland in southern France where it arrived February 16.
The routing would carry it through Marseilles on February 15.

There is a boxed handstamp indicating routing via PAQUEBOTS | DE LA | MEDITERRANÉE.*

The routing and dates indicate the letter was carried to Marseilles
by the Niemen operated by the Ligne de Syrie.
The Ligne de Syrie operated from 1873 to 1880.
It was one of the lines operated by the French Government
to provide mail packet service in the Mediterranean.

I believe this information can be confirmed in Encylopedie de La poste maritime francaise
by Raymond Salles who has written extensively on French maritime postal history.

*Thanks to Jim Whitford-Stark for deciphering this Pacquebot box.
Thanks to David Benson for providing the numeral in the lozenge of dots.


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