Today in Postal History
This cover was sent using the stationery
of the famous
Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo.
It has two Shepheard's Hotel |Cairo English and Arabic CDS.*
The destination is Oak
Park, Illinois, a suburb about 8
miles west of central Chicago.
The cover is franked with two 1888 5m.
rose carmine Pyramid
There are no transit marks on the front.
The corner card is a hotel coat of arms.
The hotel's name is in a banner across the top of the envelope.
The stationery is printed with a color illustration for the hotel.
The only things I found about the message
was that the
too busy to write and he crossed two rivers and walked 5 miles.
Anne Burson-Tolpin, a collector of
Egypt, added these
cover. I love the engraved logos on some of those old
envelopes. Shepheard’s Hotel, as you say, was definitely
famous. In the 19th and early 20th century, it was THE place
wealthy Europeans - especially British - to stay while enjoying the
sites during the winter tourist season. Anyone who reads
Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody mysteries knows it well.
because of its association with the British, the venerable Shepheard’s
was burned down in January, 1952, during the Egyptian
A few years later, a new hotel of the same name was rebuilt on a
different location. But it’s just not the same.
Shepheard’s and the Continental Hotel (also in Cairo) share the honors of having the first hotel post offices. Their post offices were opened on November 1, 1891. According to Smith, the earliest date seen for the Shepheard’s CDS is December 14, 1891. This particular cover has an H-Sp 7 type of CDS (a gibberish designation unless you're an Egyptian specialist). This type was used between November, 1907(?) and November, 1930.
The rate on this cover is interesting. The going rate for international letters at that time was 1 piastre (1000 milliemes = 100 piastre = 1 pound). However, in 1905, Egypt entered into a reciprocal agreement with Great Britain, Italy, and most of their colonies to set rates on letters going to and from Egypt at the internal Egyptian rate. This was about half of the international rate. It seems that the sender of this letter may not been aware of this and paid double what was necessary! [Ed. note: but this preferential rate may not have applied to the United States destination of this cover.]
Here is a description of the hotel in the 1870s, written by Victorian traveller Amelia Edwards in A Thousand Miles up the Nile. This is a picture of the dining room. An impressive place, to be sure.
Thanks for the addition, Anne.
*Thanks to David Benson for catching the
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