Today in Postal History

Martinique to France

July 8, 1877

This very neat quadrilled cover was sent from St. Pierre.
Martinique is in the middle of the Windward Islands at the east end of the Caribbean.
St. Pierre is on the west coast about 60 km north of Fort-de-France.
St. Pierre was destroyed by an eruption of Mt. Pelee on May 8, 1902, which killed
29,000 people - the record number of deaths for a 20th century volcanic eruption.
On August 2, 1902, Martinique was hit by a hurricane.
In 1906 Martinique had an earthquake.

This cover is franked with a 3-margin imperforate 1877 French Colonies
40c vermilion on straw colored paper Peace and Commerce (Scott 27).

The stamp was cancelled with a lozenge of dots with MQE (Martinique) in the center.
To the left there is a St. Pierre double ring CDS.

The sender used an oval purple handstamp as his return label.

The cover was addressed to Marseille.
The sender requested service "voie franšaise" - indicating the French packet.

Post offices were established in 1766 in Saint Pierre,
Fort-de-France, La TrinitÚ, and Le Marin.
Fort-de-France became the Martinique port of call
when French Ligne A began service in 1865.
The route ran from Colon, Panama, to Santa Marta, Colombia, to Martinique
and then on to St. Nazaire on the Bay of Biscay west of Paris.
By the time this cover was sent, the route had expanded to include
three more stops on the northern coast of South America and
routing via Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre) after Martinique.

The cover arrived in St. Nazaire on July 25 as noted by the receiver on the back.
There, it would have been sent by rail to Marseille.

All things considered, this is about as nice an example as one could ask for this usage.


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