Today in Postal History


Jamaica to Nova Scotia
February 17, 1890

Today's cover illustrates the hazards of handling mail.
It was posted in Kingston where it was cancelled with a squared circle datestamp.
The sender had marked the cover per. S.S. "Bergenseren" which was scheduled to sail from Port Maria to New York.
Port Maria is the shipping point for bauxite ore and also fruit.
The Bergenseren was a tiny banana boat of 666 tons built in Norway in 1884.

The cover was placed in a mail bag destined for New York and sent over the Blue Mountains
of central Jamaica to Annotto Bay on the north side of Jamaica about 35 km north of Kingston.

Jamaica Map

The route to Port Maria about 15 km northwest along the Caribbean coast from Annotto Bay.
The mail was to be carried by a mule cart to Port Maria.
On the evening of February 18 the mule cart came a cropper in the Haughton River
which flows into Annotto Bay killing two mules and the mail sack was washed away.
The mail bag was recovered 24 hours later, dried out, and prepared for resending.

A special note dated February 21 recording the history was
prepared by the General Post Office and glued on the back.

The cover received an incomplete circular red
JAMAICA PAID | 22 FEB marking to the left of the stamp.
This marking was probably applied as soon as the mail was recovered and dry enough for handling.

The cover was then returned to Kingston where it was given
a squared circle February 24 datestamp and sent on its way again.

There is no evidence of a New York transit so the cover may have been in a packet bound for Canada.
There is a Halifax receiver dated March 9 on the back.

Harmer's of London described a similar cover as "One of only five known envelopes."
I don't think it is all that rare as I found evidence of at least four on the internet.
Harmer's also claimed that the Bergenseren sank.


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