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Item - #EP-USC-1791
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AMERICAN POSTAL HISTORY
UNITED STATES STAMPLESS
COVERS

1791 LOVELY DOUBLE RATE QUAKER LETTER FROM
PHILADELPHIA TO SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS
 WITH FRANKLIN MARK & "6"(DWT) RATE.

MONEY LETTER DISCUSSES ENCLOSED NOTES AND FLUCTUATING CURRENCY CONDITIONS
ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF CASHING U.S. BANKNOTES AT THE CUSTOMS HOUSE
LIKELY BECAUSE OF ITS DECREASING VALUE IN THE OPEN MARKET

This covers shows the American "Franklin Mark" cancel. Patterned after the British "Bishop Mark" (introduced in England by British PM Henry Bishop in the 1660's) it was used to date stamp a letter to show when it was received by the local post office. The intention was that the "received by" date would document the time for local delivery and thus prompt the postman to be diligent in his rounds. The American version is in black with "day over month" in a circle with no dividing line. The British mark has a dividing line and can have the day or month on the top depending upon whether or not it was inland or foreign post. There are also Scottish (oval in red) and Irish "Bishop Marks", as well as Canadian. The American version was named after Benjamin Franklin the first US Postmaster and is found on US delivered letters from the latter part of the 18th century, disappearing from about 1800, much scarcer than the British Bishop Mark

The cover also shows the "6" dwt American rating. This means "6 pennyweight". Translated this is 18d in sterling. Note on pennyweights: A pennyweight (1dwt) is 5/90ths or 1/18th of a Spanish Silver Dollar (the legendary "piece of eight" reales) which was the equivalent to 3d sterling per 1dwt (Spanish Dollar had a standard value of 4sh/6d or 54d). There were also 24 grains to the pennyweight, so ".16" dwt was 2/3 of 3d or 2d. So the 6dwt rate on the cover equates to 18 pence sterling which was the double American inland rate from Philadelphia to Salem, New England (300 to 400 miles). On February 20, 1792 the US moved to the decimal cents and dollars currency system. An extremely nice cover. See below for more details and a conundrum.

COVERED BY OUR 5 YEAR PHILATELIC GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY


 

 
Franklin Mark 13/Dec
15mm Diameter


6 dwt pennyweight rate


Manuscript S(hi)p Post
or p(er) Post or
p(arliamentary) Post


Front
: 13 December 1791 Franklin Mark + ms "6" + ms "pPost" lower left. The "6"(dwt) rate is likely twice the 3dwt rate for a letter traveling 300-400 miles. Philadelphia to Salem is roughly 325 miles on the old Boston Post Road. The fact that this was a "money letter" although not indicated as such on the cover, but in the contents, might explain the extra sheet of paper to conceal the contents and thus the double rate, or the double rate was an early form of "registration". An alternative, but less likely explanation of the rate is that it is a 16gr (2d) Ship Letter Rate added to a 1dwt (pennyweight) + 8gr (grains), or 4d, inland post delivery charge depending upon where the ship landed. This would require an interpretation of the lower left ms to be "Sp" Post which would be unusual as the ship rate does not follow the other indicia. Additionally the writer specifically discusses not sending the money "by water".
Reverse: Large Red wax Seal and miscellaneous penciled ownership and lotting marks.
Notes: A nice Franklin Mark Double Rate letter. The Quaker writer talks about enclosing a $50 bill and two $10 bills "banknotes of the United States" which he claims can be used at the customs house. US Decimal/Dollar Currency had been authorized by Congress but was heavily discounted and no doubt was best redeemed at a US Government Office such as the Customs House. He also discusses that the profit from a shipment of boards was 19.17 lawful money which was 24.16.3 in Pennsylvania money. A good example of the post war inflation and scarcity of sterling specie. If in fact Mr. Collins actually enclosed the currency he says he did, this would be a very early, although unmarked postally, "Money Letter". Ex Kramer, Gaston.
Condition: Very Fine with usual file folds.
Contents: Letter Dateline: Philadelphia December 12, 1791, from Stephen Collins to his "brother" William Northery. Transcription below:

     William Northery                                                                                              Philadelphia December 12, 1791

     Dear Brother

     I duly rec'd thy favor of the 22nd October by Capt Needham with the 6000 feet boards, value with some expences, 19.17 lawful money, in Pennsylvania money 24.16.3, for which I now enclose thee one fifty Dollar & two ten dollars bank notes, of the United States, being seventy dollars which will pass for Cash with you as they will be rec'd in all payments at the Custom Houses. I thought this better than conveying the money by water. so Billey, thee & Ezra could go frolicking all the way to Vermont & not come here- I wonder how you dare come so near to Philadelphia - and Ezra could go also to see brother Henery, or any thing but come here - However brother Sammy says he is now coming in the Spring, to bring the little boy Ezra- the son of Samuel with him - so I presume we shall not now be disappointed.

        With the affectionate regards of all our family, to every limb & spawn of the house of Lynn, I am thy loving brother

         [signed] Step[hen] Collins

 


Text of Letter


Reverse of Cover

 Offered by EmpirePost.com
a Division of Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.
Member: APS, BNAPS, CCNY, ICSC, DMSC, SPHS

OUR 5 YEAR PHILATELIC GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY

As a Life Member of the American Philatelic Society and in association with the American Philatelic Society's new guidelines on expertization, Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd. will guarantee the authenticity of this philatelic item to the purchaser of record for a period of five years from the date of sale. You will receive a full color receipt with our written guarantee of authenticity - signed and sealed. Please note that our five year Guarantee of Authenticity does not apply to condition issues such as centering, cancel, gum, paper or other aspects of the item. It is the buyer's responsibility to promptly examine the material upon receipt for any vices, defects or other dissatisfactions and return it within our seven day examination and "return-for-any-reason" period. However, if at any time during the five year period you receive an opinion from the American Philatelic Expertizing Service that this item is not authentic, please return the item in its original condition along with the written guarantee and contrary opinion and we will refund you the original purchase price and the cost of the opinion.

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