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Europe/Great Britain : What can you tell me about this cover?

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Bobstamp
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10 Mar 2015
11:32:08pm
What do I know about early English postal history? Not much. I'm hoping that some members might enlighten me about this cover, which I just bought on eBay:

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I can't provide a detail image of the postmarks, but it looks to me like it was postmarked somewhere in England on Sept. 4, 1850, and received in Guernsey the next day. Does that seem correct?

The killer seems to have a numeral two in it. Is that correct? If so, what city does numeral 2 indicate?

I would describe it as a "folded letter". Correct?

The imperforate stamp is a Scott #3 red brown. My Scott catalogue tells me that these stamps were also printed on silk thread paper, but it's probably impossible to tell from this scanned image that the dealer provided.

FYI, I bought the cover because I wanted an example of early mail to (or from) the Channel Islands to use in the web page I am still working on. I will serve, hopefully, as an illustration of the impact of the German occupation, which prohibited any but local (intra- and inter-island) mail and Red Cross messages.

It will be interesting to learn more from you.

Bob

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cocollectibles
11 Mar 2015
05:45:12am
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

The numeral 2 in the horizontal oval is for London post office in Finchley or East Finchley, if I'm using my new "Collect British Postmarks" book correctly.


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nigelc
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11 Mar 2015
07:33:16am
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

Hi,

This has the figure 2 in a diamond within bars rather than in a circle and this makes it a London "Inland Section" postmark.

The Inland Section and Foreign Section were functions with the main post office in central London. In later years there were many postmarks that included the abbreviations "I.S." and "F.S." (or equivalently "F.B." for Foreign Branch).

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cocollectibles
11 Mar 2015
08:39:14am
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

I thought it resembled the first image on this page of Collect British Postmarks; see note 7/1 about it.

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nigelc
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11 Mar 2015
09:47:14am
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

Hi Peter,

From memory these are Inland Section marks and are followed in the book by the similar numbers in circles within bars which were used in the London suburban and district offices.


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smauggie
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11 Mar 2015
01:01:59pm
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

I concur with Nigel (which I can tell you is always a safe bet). I also have access to the Collect British Postmarks book by Dr. J. T. Whitney. The book, sadly is merely an introductory book and does not cover any of the other postal markings seen on the cover.

I can tell you what I suspect (welcoming anyone to shoot holes in my hypothesis) is that the item, coming from London, was sent via rail to the ports of either Bournemoth or Brighton. The "PB" in the earlier dated circular cancel suggests a transit marking at a Port with a city name which starts with B. Most likely it was Brighton which is a straight shot south from London by rail.

The item was then sent via ship to Guernsey and arrived a day after passing through the port.

Now there is a straight-line marking in thick lettering which I think denotes the ships name. I have not been able to divine the name.

I did find this article that lists Royal Mail ships and their time of usage. But I cannot tell enough of the name on the cover to match with an ship on the list. Of course the list may not be comprehensive, and the item may not have come via a Royal Mail Ship.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Mail_Ship


Edit: I did a little more poking around and found A History of the Ship Letters of the British Isles by Alan W. Robertson (reprint edition of 1993). He indicates that by 1845 mail delivery to the Channel Islands was transitioned from Royal Mail Ships to railroad lines and their ships. That seems to back up my hypothesis a bit. Prior to this mails were sent via the ports of Weymouth and Southampton.

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Bobstamp
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11 Mar 2015
01:34:07pm
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

Thank you Smauggie, Nigelc, and Cocollectibles for the interest you have shown in my cover. When I receive it, probably next week, I'll make some proper, high-res scans which may provide more data.

Bob


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malcolm197
12 Mar 2015
05:00:03pm
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

Bob

While I have been unable to access any direct information on the net about the route of your cover - it is unlikely to have gone via Weymouth as the Great Western Railway did not reach Weymouth until 1857 - and so travel to Weymouth for onward transmission would have been slow. However in 1850 the London and South Western Railway had reached Southampton and records show that a regular sailing from there to the Channel Islands was already well established.

Bournemouth was really only a village at this time, and while Brighton was a sizeable port ( Shoreham actually) I can only see reference to sailings to France ( although there could have been sailings to the Channel Islands - but unlikely as the distance is too great for a fast crossing).

Unless anyone has any definite information to the contrary, by elimination Southampton is the most likely routeing.

Malcolm

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Bobstamp
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12 Mar 2015
05:19:01pm
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

Thank you for that information, Malcolm. It strikes me that the Channel Island Specialists' Society might be able to shed some light on this.

Bob


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Bobstamp
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19 Mar 2015
06:51:53pm
re: What can you tell me about this cover?

Today I received the 1850 cover that is the main topic of this discussion. I can't improve much on the scans that were originally on eBay. Here's a high-res image of the postmarks, showing that the apparent transit time from London to Guernsey, a distance of about 180 miles or 290 km, was just one day. (My wife mailed a letter today to an address just two miles away from our apartment, and was told that it probably wouldn't be delivered until Monday, March 22.)

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I'm guessing that this is a good example of laid paper, about which Wikipedia says, "Laid paper is a type of paper having a ribbed texture imparted by the manufacturing process. In the pre-mechanical period of European papermaking (from the 12th century into the 19th century), laid paper was the predominant kind of paper produced. Its use, however, diminished in the 19th century, when it was largely supplanted by wove paper."

There also appears to be hand-stamped word above and to the left of the Guernsey postmark. It's not quite readable. I wonder if it's the name of the ship it was carried on.

Just above the Guernsey postmark there appears to be the impression of a hair. There's got to be joke here, but I'll let others search for it.

The cover is actually a medical form, filled out by a doctor on behalf of a woman who has been his patient. It's an interesting glimse of medicine in the mid-19th Century. Here it is:

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The hole in the paper (on the right-hand side) was torn by the sealing wax that was used to seal the form.

Bob

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