Today in Postal History

Egypt (French Post Office) to Italy
December 19, 1862

This stampless folded letter was mailed in Alexandria.
The postmark is that of the French Post Office.
Alexandria was another location for post offices of several European powers.

The destination of the cover was Livorno (Leghorn) in
Tuscany at the time just south of Pisa on the Mediterranean.

The arrival datestamp on the back appears to be December 30.

There is a Naples transit mark on the reverse however I cannot decipher the date.

The sender requested service 'Par le Bateau des Messageries Imperiales'
which meant the mail was to be transported on a vessel
of the French-owned line operating in the Mediterranean.*

The French began a state-owned steamship service in 1835
operating in the Mediterranean between Marseilles and the Levant.
The company entered into an agreement with the French government
to run the posts throughout the Mediterranean and
took charge of the postal administration in the summer of 1851.

Also in 1851, with 16 ships it was transferred to the management
of Messageries Nationales, the state operated road communication concern,
operating as
Compagnie des Services Maritimes des Messageries Nationales
The steamship lines were split from the road operations in 1852 and became

Compagnie des Services Maritimes des Messageries Nationales
La Compagnie des Messageries Imperiales was the name
used with the return of the monarchy in 1853 until its end in 1871.

The line expanded to 57 ships by 1857 and 62 vessels by 1866.
During the period of 1862 to 1869, it operated service from
Marseilles to Alexandria in the Mediterranean with overland service to Suez and
beyond to French Indochina with Mauritius feeder service to Aden and Suez.
Google translates the name of the company to "The Company of the Imperial Transport."

There is what appears to be a 10 rate marking pencilled on the front.
The seller describes this as a 'tampoon' mark equal to 1 lire.
This would probably have been 10 centimes.

*Many thanks to Jim Whitford-Stark for providing the
nucleus of information which led to the extended information
on the steamship line which carried this item.


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