Today in Postal History

Chile to France
June 26, 1851

This folded letter was mailed in Valparaiso at the British post office.
There is a CDS for Valparaiso on the reverse.
The senders, G. Jagerschmidt and Carlos Jullian, requested service Par Panama.
The British post office rated the cover at 1 shilling 9 pence (?).
An alternate (and certainly better informed) opinion suggests that it is a French 42 [centimes].*

The first regular coastal mail services were provided in 1840 by the Pacific Steam Navigation Co.
In 1845, a contract to transport mail from Valparaiso to Panama and intermediate ports was signed.
The mail was carried across the isthmus to Chagres where the mail was sent on
its way via the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. for Britain and the rest of Europe.

The Panama Railroad was not completed until 1855 so this letter
was carried across the isthmus on mules, canoes, carts, etc.
Transport across the isthmus by the Pacific Mail Steampship Co.  was so bad that
New Grenada took over in 1849 but provided little, if any, improvement.

En route across the isthmus, the letter received a bold, red two-line PANAMA | TRANSIT on the front.

The red CDS on the rear was applied on the letter's arrival on August 21 in, I believe, Southampton/London.
Southampton was the home port for the Royal Mail Steam Packets from the Caribbean.

On August 22 it arrived in Calais and was marked with a ANGL[AIS] CDS indicating its origin in England.

The letter proceeded to its destination in Bordeaux where it arrived on August 24.

*Thanks to Jim Whitford-Stark for his opinion on the rate marking.


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