Western Overland Routes



Unites States Postal History

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Example - You bid estimate on an item valued at $500 and if your bid is the first to reach us, you will receive the item immediately at the $500 bid with no buyer's fee added. If on the other hand, you bid $400 on the same item and are still the high bidder at the end of the sale, the item will be mailed to you after the closing date at your bid amount plus 15% buyer's fee.

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Image Description Est. Price
Norwich, Connecticut - A Mounted Five Frame Exhibit Collection

[Norwich, Connecticut, Postal History Vignettes, 1755 to 1867], material from the collection formed by John Olenkiewicz distilled and exhibit mounted presented by Richard Frajola. Possibly the best documentation of the establishment of an 18th Century  post office operating in the United States. Link to the presentation is here. The collection as a PDF file here. Article about the Provisional Post Office at Norwich is here. Additional material includes:mounted but not included in the 5 frames here, unmounted extra covers here, additional documentation of the postal service is a 78 page, leather-bound book of the partially printed record of Letters & Newspapers sent from the Norwich office under Dudley Woodbridge, William Leffingwell and Christopher Leffingwell (January 9, 1783 to March 15, 1795, sample images here).

This exhibit presents significant vignettes that illustrate the pre 1867 letter mails to and from what is now Norwich, Connecticut. It is organized by the three post office locations and chronologically by name change within as follows:

1. Norwich I (1755-1836) and Norwich Town (1836-1861)
2. Norwich Falls (1828-1829)
3. Chelsea Landing (1802-1827), Norwich City (1827-1836) and Norwich II (1836-1867

Westerns & Express

[1859, Jones & Russell's Pike's Peak Express Co.], Denver City Dec 29 1859 datestamp on cover to Vermont, prepaid with two copies 3c dull red (#26), cover carried east over the Platte River Route and entered the mails at Leavenworth City with Jan 6 1860 postmark, cover corner stain at lower left, ex Knapp, Risvold (hammer price of $5,000 + 20% buyer's premium) and Walske


[1860, Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company], Denver City Kansas Territory undated oval "frank" indicating prepayment of express fees on back of 3c red Nesbitt entire used to Belmont, New York, COC&PP Denver City Jan 8 oval datestamp when turned over to the express company and green COC&PP St. Joseph, Mo Jan 14 oval datestamp when it arrived in the express office at St. Joseph, entered mails with Saint Joseph Jan 15 green double circle postmark, cover edges restored, very fine use with both COC&PP offices datestamps and dateless frank, ex Kramer


[1860, Pony Express], San Francisco Running Pony "Sep 22" blue oval origin datestamp on 10c green Nesbitt entire to New York, endorsed "Via Pony" by sender at bottom left, pencil "1/4" indicating $2.50 prepaid pony express fee for a one-quarter ounce letter, oval "3 Oct St. Joseph COC&PP Express Co." arrival datestamp, entered the mails with St. Joseph, Mo postmark, cover expertly restored at sides, the only reported example carried on this trip, Frajola Pony Express census #E20A, ex David New


[1861, Putt's Overland Envelope], red propaganda envelope with all over design used from Red Dog, CA to Middle Creek, PA with April 8 postmark, original 1861 letter, "PAID" handstamp and 10c rate, manuscript "forwarded from Middle Creek May 7th" and due 3 Cents," cover has a restored nick at top, probably the finest of the fewer than five reported examples of this design, ex Haas and Kramer

see pages 1 and 2 in PDF file here for full text of verso and images of this and related envelope (lot #5)



[1861, Sammy's Pacific Mule Envelope] red all over propaganda design cover used from Salt Lake City Utah Territory to Michigan with 3c Dull Red (#26) tied, correct east of the Rockies rate, this variant style of the Putt's envelope (note train at top right instead of two stage coach) was for use over Central Overland Route, text at foot says "Established in 1860" and on reverse, last line states: "All Difficulties settled according to Mormon Laws" (the Putt's envelopes for use on the Butterfield route state "established in 1858" and "All Difficulties settled according to Miner's Laws"), cover edge faults and tears

see pages 3 and 4 in PDF file here for full text of verso and images of this and related envelope (lot #4)


[1865, Pioneer Express, New Orleans ] Provost Marshal General's Office, Department of the Gulf, Official Business. imprint cover used from New Orleans to Philadelphia, fair strike of "Pioneer Express Co., New Orleans, June 19, 1865" circular datestamp, entered the mails with pair 2c Black (#73) tied by Cairo Ill. duplexed datestamp, illustrated in Allen, PF cert, the only reported example from New Orleans, ex Allen and Faust

Pioneer Express carried express matter onboard the Atlantic & Mississippi Steamship Co. steamer "Mississippi" that ran between New Orleans and Cairo, IL briefly after the War. At this date, F. A Starring was Provost Marshal General, Department of the Gulf.


[1756, The Earliest Reported Handstamped Domestic Mail Postmark of North America] 15 March 1756 folded letter of David Vanhorn in New York to Thomas Fayerweather in Boston, New York two line postmark and "4 dwt" manuscript rate, this letter is the listing copy in ASCC as the earliest date for the postmark which is the earliest handstamped postmark used on domestic mail (there is a earlier handstamped marking found on packet service letters that may have been applied in England according to Robson Lowe), ex 1981 Frajola auction #1 (lot 4, sold for $1,100)


[1759, Falmouth Packet to Philadelphia] New York brownish black, second style two line postmark, well struck, and manuscript "3" (dwt) rate (postage New York to Philadelphia) on folded April 2, 1759 packet cover from London to Philadelphia, red manuscript "P1/" (paid one shilling) rate and London "10 FE" origin backstamp, endorsed by sender "Pr the Packet" at lower left and with note on reverse (image here), "if sailed send back to John Edwin, Freeman lane, Southwark," slightly aged fold but a much finer example than usually seen

Carried on the British Falmouth packet The Earl of Halifax that departed Feb 18 and arrived New York on 28 March 1759, docketed as received 2 April




[1760, Falmouth Packet to London] folded cover to London, second style New York two line postmark in brownish red and manuscript "2/-" packet rate, London's 8 August datestamp on back. letter is docketed as being from "Mr. Seabury of Hempstead, April 28 1760" (on Long Island), cleaned fold, ex Haas (pencil note on reverse as 10/79 purchase from Kaufmann for $1,350)

Carried by Falmouth Packet The Earl of Halifax that departed New York on 28 June 1760 and arrived Falmouth 4 August 1760.


[1797, Earliest Reported Letter by Mail from St. Louis, Missouri],  St Louis, Decmb. 10, 1797 dateline on folded letter (while under Spanish control), entered the mails with "Lexington February 8" (Kentucky) straight line postmark, letter of William Kenner (pdf file of letter text here) a noted cotton factor and endorsed to be carried by "Mr Branham" a noted civil leader at Lexington, Kentucky and addressed to General James O'Hara, a major land owner in western Pennsylvania, letter is somewhat soiled and file folds, believed to be the earliest reported letter carried by US mails from St. Louis, ex David New


[1802, From Russia, via London, New York, and Stamford to Boston],  Business letter dated 22 April 1802 from St Petersburgh, Russia addressed to New York, bears a London June 2 1802 red postmark and manuscript "3/8" rate, carried by Falmouth Packet Princess Amelia to New York, taken out of the mails at New York and posted from Stamford (Conn.) with their straight line postmark and "17" rate due for carriage to Boston, ex Olenkiewicz


[1829, Stonington, Conn. via Maiden Voyage of Havre Packet Ship Formosa to France] magenta Stonington Ct, Sept 8 manuscript postmark and matching "Paid 12" rate on 1829 letter to Nantes, France, endorsed "To be forwarded by Ship Formosa Capt W. B. Orne for Havre" by sender, prepaid rate to New York City where it was placed on the Formosa, her maiden voyage, red Havre 14 Oct 1829 entry datestamp and boxed handstamp, Nantes arrival backstamp, ex Olenkiewicz



[1839, Hale's Letter Office at the Tontine Coffee House, New York],  1 February 1839 letter from New York to London, endorsed "Pr Columbus" on front "FORWARDED FROM HALES FOR. LET. OFFICE, Corner of Wall and Water Streets, NEW YORK" handstamp on reverse, by Liverpool packet Columbus to Liverpool (arrive 22 Feb 1839), Liverpool ship letter handstamp and 4/9d due

The last ad for Hale at Tontine bldg address is 5 March 1842. Then for a couple weeks he used "Wall St" only. The first use of "58 Wall St" address I find is 9 April 1842.


[1849, Fort Gaines, Minnesota Territory] July 2, 1849 dateline on folded letter that entered the mails down-river at Fort Snelling with their 11 July 1849 manuscript territorial postmark and "10" rate for postage due to St. Louis, extremely fine, ex Kramer

Letter (here) mentions cholera and that the writer is pleased that he did not have to go out with the Red River Expedition. Fort Gaines was very short-lived name for what became Fort Ripley later in 1849.


[1851, Havre Like Franklin to France] Philadelphia Paid 5 cts red boxed rate handstamp corrected in manuscript to 21 cents on folded letter endorsed "Per Steamer Franklin" to France, blue origin postmark, carried by Havre Line "Franklin" (the third sailing of the Line) departed New York on Feb 8 and arrived Havre on Feb 21, red Havre entry and 6 decimes due handstamp, scarce use from this Line


1847 - 1870 Issue Stamps on Cover and Stationery

[Providence & Worchester Rail Road] blue "Prov & Wor RR" datestamp on cover to to New Haven, 5c Red Brown 1847 issue (#1, complete to full margins), tied by matching blue grid cancel, an attractive use, ex Judd



[(Dunham's) Messenkope's Union Square Post Office] black on green adhesive (#106L1), partially torn away at foot before use indicating that it was used after Dunham had taken over the local post, tied to cover to the mails with 3c Dull Red (#11) by New York Mar 13 postmark, (Scott catalog value as Messenkope stamp used with #11 on cover is $2,000), ex Conland


[1857/1861, Pacific Rail Road Company] three items - an 1861 multicolor rail road pass (image of mounted here) signed by D.R. Garrison as President; a blue cameo corner card cover with train illustration used from California, MO with 3c Dull Red (#11); and a perfect strike "Pacific Railroad" route agent handstamp tying a 3c Dull Red to cover, the group ex Risvold (cost $2,280 including buyer's premium), ex Kramer and David New

On September 16, 1858, the first westbound mail was carried from Saint Louis to Tipton, Missouri by the newly constructed Pacific Railroad, a distance of one hundred and sixty miles. On arrival at Tipton at 6 PM the same day, the mail was transferred to the first Butterfield Route westbound stage for its long journey of two thousand, seven hundred and thirty miles - the longest continuous stage line in history. The first westbound stage arrived in San Francisco on Sunday morning October 10th in the all over time of 23 days, and 23.5 hours. California is the first station east of Tipton.


[Patriotic Cover, Arms of the Keystone State] superb multicolor design cover with "Edward Cogan, 48th N. Tenth St., Philadelphia" imprint on flap, 3c rose (#65) tied by Philadelphia July 24 1863" postmark, gem extremely fine, PF certificate


[Stencil Postmark] #65, 3c Red, neat pen cancels, on cover with fancy stencil Upper Jay N.Y. postmark with manuscript March 30 date, original 1867 letter, ex Myerson and Conland


[Wells, Fargo, New York to Arizona Territory] Wells Fargo & Co Express, New York blue Aug 1 datestamp tying pair 3c Rose (#65) to cover address to Hon John Goodwin, Governor (of newly created Arizona Territory) at Prescott, Arizona Territory, sender endorsed "Per California Steamer" at left, (per PMSS steamer "Golden City" arv. SFC from Panama on 25 Aug 1865)

Cover was handled by Wells Fargo as far as their office in San Bernardino where it was placed in the U.S. mails, San Bernardino, California Aug 29 postmark, unusual routing and handling during the the first couple months of regular postal service to Prescott (see news article in 26 September 1865 San Francisco Bulletin), believed to be the earliest reported use to the early capital of Arizona Territory, ex Birkinbine


[Union Flag Patriotic cancel] Healdsburg, California postmark and waving flag with "UNION" text cancel, well struck, tying 10c green (#68) to cover to Illinois, cover edge faults, ex Oscar Salzer


[1864, Eagle and Shield Patriotic] 2c Black (#73) tied to local use, yellow cover with multicolored patriotic design, red "The Union & Constitution" in ribbon, red "Middletown Ct. Aug. 9, 1864" datestamp (in this period Middletown always used a red postmark), and black cancel, the patriotic response had largely died away by 1864 and most patriotic covers bore 3c adhesives, as a result of this uses on drop rate patriotic covers are generally under-appreciated, this example ranks as one of the finest known ex Walcott and Faust


[#73, 2c Black, Railroad Route Agent Postmark] Marseilles C. & R. I. R. R. Mar 10 fancy shield, ticket-dater route agent datestamp tying pair 2c black to overpaid cover to federally controlled Helena, Arkansas, 1865 docket on reverse, ex Hennan, Russo and Faust


[1869, Trans-Pacific Use to Swatow, China] #93, 2c Black "F" Grill pair used with two copies 3c Red "F" Grill (#94), on Wingate correspondence cover to Swatow, China, prepaid 10c trans-Pacific rate, "Bristol NH Mar 10" (1869) origin postmark, scarcer "New York Paid All" exchange office datestamp, Hong Kong transit (May 9 1869) and Swatow arrival backstamps, signed Ashbrook, ex Allen and Faust

Carried on PMSS Great Republic from San Francisco, via Yokohama, to Hong Kong (arrived May 9). Then carried on P&O steamer Azof from Hong Kong to Swatow (departed May 15, arrived May 16).




[1869, Trans-Pacific Use to Swatow, China] 10c Green (#68) tied to Wingate correspondence cover to Swatow, China, Stratham, NH May 28 1869 origin postmark and endorsed "Via California" at top, New York transit postmark (instead of the previously used NY exchange markings as at this date it could be transmitted on the newly completed trans-continental railway to the San Francisco, their magenta "Jul 3 Paid All" exchange, carried on PMSS steamer Great Republic via Japan to Hong Kong, "Hong Kong 6 Aug 69" transit and "A-Swatow Aug 7 69" arrival backstamps an early use on the new route


[1862 use to Guatemala] 24c Steel Blue (#70b) tied with 10c Dark Green (#68a) to Crosby correspondence cover to Guatemala by "Washington D.C. Apr 18, 1862" double-circle datestamp, 4 reales due handstamp, a rare and attractive use, PF cert, ex Haas


[1865 use to Russia] #73, 2c Black tied with 3c Rose (#65, faults) and 30c Orange (#71) to Pierce correspondence cover by PCM to St. Petersburg, Russia by Portland Maine duplex postmark, red "N. York Br. Pkt. Paid Sep 20" exchange datestamp and "14" credit handstamp, blue "Aachen/Franco" boxed handstamp, blue crayon "F3" (sgr) transit to Russia, prepaid correct 35c rate, carried on the Cunard Line steamer "Scotia" from New York on Sep 20, 1865, ex Gibson, Paliafito and Faust


[1863 use to Shanghai, China] #73, 2c Black (two) used with 5c Red Brown (#75) and three 12c Black (#69) on cover to Shanghai, stamps overlapped and tied together by crossroad cancels, "Norwalk Con Dec 15 1863" origin datestamp, endorsed "Via Southampton" and correctly prepaid for the 45c British Mail rate, faint strike of red New York Br. Pkt. datestamp on back and manuscript "48" credit which incorrectly corresponds to the 53c rate via Marseilles, red London Paid transit datestamp (Dec 25), red "1d" Colonial rate handstamp, blue Hong Kong "C" (Feb 25 1864) and Shanghai (Mar 3) backstamps, cover has been cleaned (not mentioned on PF cert), ex Faust


[1866 use to Italy] #73, 2c Black tied by New York City FM circle of wedges cancel to Sep 15, 1866 printed circular, per "Scotia" to Naples, Italy, red framed "Arrivo 4 Oct. 66 Napoli" arrival backstamp, "17 cmi" postage due handstamp, ex Faust


[1866 use to France] #73, 2c Black tied with 3c Rose (#65) and 10c Green (#68) to cover to Paris, France, "Chicago Il. Apr 24" (1866) datestamp, red "Chicago Ill Paid 12" exchange office credit datestamp, red Calais May 12 entry datestamp, attractive three-color franking, carried on the Cunard Line steamer "Persia," ex Faust



[1866 use to Germany] #73, 2c Black tied by red geometric cancel duplexed with "N.Y City Jun 23" datestamp, repeated in the clear at right, to short paid cover to Germany, "N. York Brem Pkt 3 Jun 23" debit datestamp, blue "America/Uber Bremen" transit and "22" due handstamp, Frankfurt transit backstamp, unpaid 15c rate via Bremen Mail with US debit of 3c for internal postage, postage due 22 kreuzers, unusual use of city postal markings on a foreign use cover, ex Burrows and Faust


[1867 use to Switzerland] #73, 2c Black tied by cogwheel cancels together with two 5c Brown (#76) and 10c Green (#68) to blue cover to Switzerland, "San Francisco Cal Jul 10" (1867) origin postmark, via Panama to New York, their red "New York Aug 3" credit "9" exchange datestamp, red French entry, Swiss arrival backstamp, 1c overpayment of 21c French Mail rate, ex Faust



[2c Black on Advertising Cover] #73, 2c black tied to deep red, all over design "The Great American & China Tea Company" advertising cover to Watkins NY, illustrated design with a Chinese merchant and junk, original pre-addressed return envelope enclosed (image here, these rarely survive together), extremely fine, ex Faust


[2c Black on New York City Cover] #73, 2c Black tied to local use cover by red "PO" in circle fancy cancel, matching New York City Dec 26 datestamp, addressed to a "late" soldier and with pointing hand "Returned to Writer" handstamp used to return it to address in Manchester, NH, black New York Jan 23 datestamp, ex Metzger and Faust

(see Chronicle 251 Cover Corner) for similar example from same sender who exploited a loophole in the 1866 Act regarding return to sender forwarding without additional postage by mailing in New York City




[2c Black on New York City Cover] #73, 2c Black tied to local use cover by red star shaped geometric cancel (SE #ST-E 50), duplexed with New York City Mar 1 datestamp, ex Newbury and "European Connoisseur" (aka "Besancon" collection)


[2c Black on New York City Cover] #73, 2c Black tied to local use cover by brilliant orange-red "New York City Mar 5" datestamp duplexed with fancy negative star in star cancel, ex Faust



[2c Black on New York City Cover] #93, 2c Black "F" Grill tied by New York City fancy red geometric cancel to local use cover, red "New York City Sep 9" datestamp, ex Faust


[2c Black Advertising Postal Entire] 2c Black Jackson buff entire (#U54), blue all-over illustrated advertising design of "Wallace Johnson" produce dealer, depicts egg carrier and butter worker, one of the nicest examples of an illustrated 2c Black entire I have seen, ex Burrows (brought $1,420) and Faust


[Helena Montana Advertising Cover used from Utah] International Hotel, Helena, Montana Territory all over illustrated advertising cover in brown used with 3c 1869 (#114) from Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, their duplex postmark, ex Walske and Kramer


[1874 use to France] 6c Dull Pink (#159) tied in combination with 3c Green (#158) to cover to France by red Baltimore Foreign Mail wedges cancels in red, matching "Baltimore Md. Sep. 25 9AM" datestamp, red "New York Paid Sep. 26" exchange office datestamp, blue Paris 1874 entry datestamp, an attractive example of the 9c rate that went into effect the previous month

Confederate States

[Ten Star Flag and Verse Patriotic], Dietz #F10-11, used with Kinston, NC postmark and "Paid" handstamp, "J. Bonitz, Goldsboro, NC" imprint at left, no flap, very fine and attractive, ex Myerson


[#3, 2c Green, Spur Variety], variety "spur at top left" (position 60L) clearly visible in margin, large large margins, tied to local use cover by blue Petersburg Virginia July 14 postmark, cover has two small tone specks that do not detract, extremely fine and one of the finest known quality single frankings, ex Richey, Hart and Kilbourne





[Inbound Blockade-run Cover & Letter], Charleston S. C. Sep 12 (1863) entry postmark, "Steam-Ship" oval handstamp and pencil "12" rate (10c + 2c ship fee) on inbound cover to Dr. Randell Croft at Greenville, SC; original ALS of Charles K. Prioleau, dated July 31, 1861, on "F.T & Co., 10 Rumford Place, Liverpool" imprint stationery of Fraser Trenholm Co. (Prioleau was President of the famous blockade-running company), cover carried via New York and Nassau and blockade-run into Charleston on one of the very last inbound runs of the year before Union batteries made blockade-running into Charleston too dangerous:

1. Dep Liverpool 1 Aug, Cunard Line steamer China, arv NYC on 11 Aug
2. Dep NYC on 15 Aug per Corsica arv Nassau on 19 Aug
3. Dep Nassau on blockade-runner Spaulding on her second run into Charleston (Dep Charleston on Sep 18th back to Nassau and was captured on her next run to Charleston (Oct 11, 1863)

Letter content:

Liverpool July 31, 1863
Dr Randell Croft, Greenville Dear Sir,

I have just received your letter of 14th Jany and hasten to say that I will have much pleasure in selecting the Pitcher for you and will exercise all the taste I possess in its choice but I must wait to hear further from you as you did not instruct me on whether or not to ship it through the blockade or wait until the war is over. Under present circumstances I would advise the latter course and I do not like to take the responsibility of sending it now. I would by all means advise you to send a Bale of Cotton if possible which would at present prices net me $100 and if you do so, please instruct me whether to invest the whole of the proceeds in the pitcher or only pounds 20.

I have often heard my brother as well as his widow & children speak gratefully of many acts of kindness on your part received by them and I am very glad to be able to render you any service in my power. I heartily wish I could put you in way of retrieving any part of the losses you have sustained through the war of our independence but in the present disjoined condition of affairs it is impossible & futile to suggest anything. We cannot tell what a day or an hour may bring forth. We can only hope and pray that God will ere long grant to her invaded and oppressed country the blessing of liberty and peace.

I remain dear sir, C.K. Prioleau


Richard Frajola (Aug 12, 2019)