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. On January 13, 1854 U.S. special postal agent Fry gave notice to the express companies that they must have US postage prepaid on letter mail so I believe these predate that order. As Adams went out of business early in 1855 (see company history here) these franks couldn't have seen much use. 

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 rapidly. The three types of franks are illustrated and described below.

Type 1.  Vertical frank, the "O" of "Over" is aligned to left of left edge of "A" of "Adams" - some letters weakly printed, most noticeably the "f" in "California"

No other examples are reported

Type 2. Horizontal frank, the "O" of "Over" is aligned to right of left edge of "A" of "Adams" - all letters of "Over our California and Coast Routes" clearly struck

One other example is reported struck on a 3c Nesbitt entire used from Dom Pedro's Bar August 28th.

Type 3.  Horizontal frank, the "O" of "Over" is aligned to left of left edge of "A" of "Adams" - some letters weakly printed, the "f" in "California" very faint

The three recorded examples are shown.

Richard Frajola (July 12, 2004)