Adams Express Franks
Adams Express Franks - At present I
have record of only six examples of the printed frank of Adams & Co.
express. Unfortunately none are year dated but I suspect 1853 as the
most likely year of first issuance as on January 13, 1854 special postal
agent Fry gave notice to the express companies that they must have US
postage prepaid on letter mail. Adams went out of business early in
I consider these franks important for two reasons. The first is that they represent the earliest usage of any form of Western Express frank (defined here as a printed indicia indicating prepayment of express fees). They pre-date the usages on postal entires that became prevalent in the years after 1854. The second reason is that I believe that they were most likely intended for a different style of usage. The only reason I can think of to use a printed frank, as opposed to a "paid" handstamp, is to facilitate the deposit of mail in letter boxes after the normal business hours of the express. Much like a printed adhesive stamp, these could be used to prepare letters for mailing so that they could be deposited in a box and without having to wait in line if the express office was still open.
Such an intended usage might also help explain the rarity of these franks. Very few mailers would have much need for them and, at either 12.5 or 25c each, their advance purchase would represent a substantial outlay of cash if they weren't to be used up rapidly. The three types of franks are illustrated and described below.
As an aside, Adams adhesive and envelope "stamps" are listed in Scott's catalog. I have never seen what I consider to be a genuine example of any of these on cover. For a discussion of these see here.
Richard Frajola (May, 2004)