Frajola World Covers


Richard Schaefer Collection of Pioneer California Express Covers

Offered by Richard Frajola
(Table of Contents and Ordering Instructions)

Letter Bag Operators and Post Office Mail

San Francisco Letter Bag Operators: These companies, mostly operated by news agencies, received mail for carriage on the next available steamer. Mail was given to the ship pursers, or to the post office, for onward transmission.


[Noisy Carriers] San Francisco (July 1, 1853) to Oakdale, Pennsylvania deposited in Noisy Carrier's letter bag and delivered by them to San Francisco Post Office, small "NOISY CARRIERS PUBLISHING HALL / 77 LONG WHARF SAN FRANCISCO / CHARLES F. KIMBALL PROPRIETOR" handstamp,  fewer than five reported examples of this three line handstamp, ex Haas, Vogel and Walske


(page image, stock #9001, $6,000) (sold)

[Independent Line] San Francisco to New York out of the mails by the Independent Line, 6˘ postage prepaid with 3c dull red (#11) "INDEPENDENT LINE AHEAD OF THE MAILS, UNCLE SAM AND NORTH STAR VIA PANAMA" handstamp, entered the mails September 27 (1854) in New York for carriage to Warren, Maine, carried on the last trip of the Independent Line from California, ex Meir


(page image, stock #9002, $7,500) (sold)

Sutter's Mills, California August 19, 1849, dateline on early miner's letter to Yellow Springs, Iowa (complete contents on  page here), entered mails at Sacramento City post office with manuscript September 1 postmark and "Paid 40,"  letter from one of the first overland 49'ers, JH Blair, writing from the site of Sutter's original gold discovery includes description of the journey to California, method of using rocker to extract gold, and his success, carried in the first transcontinental through mail bags from Sacramento City, via Panama, to the East, ex Straley and Walske


(page image, stock #9003, $5,000)(sold)

Stockton Cala Dec 19th 1849 magenta manuscript postmark and 40c rate on folded letter to Steuben, Maine, letter of William P Shaw, dated at Stockton mentions: "I arrived here some time in Sept. I have enjoyed good health ever since I left the States. It was rather late in the season when I arrived but I have done tolerable well and have a good prospect of making money in the Spring," a very early use as PM appointment confirmed in Washington in November 1849, ex Haas, Vogel and Walske

(page image, stock #9004, $1,200)(sold)

San Francisco Cal Oct 1 (1850) orange red postmark and "80" double rate handstamp on cover endorsed per Steamship California to Mrs. Voorhees, New York, carried on PMSS steamer California, the first contract mail steamer in service in the Pacific Ocean

(page image, stock #9005, $500) (sold)

Exeter, New York March 31 manuscript postmark and "10" rate on cover to San Francisco, postal rate corrected to 40˘ due on arrival, addressed to Augustine Hale of the New England Mining & Trading Co., and early inbound cover by post office mail


(page image, stock #9006, $500) (sold)

Adams & Co's Express (Nov 1849 - Feb 1855)

D.W. Haskell was sent by Adams & Co's Express to organize a California operation for banking and the safe transmission of gold between California and New York. He arrived in San Francisco on October 31, 1849. The new branch of the nationwide Adams Express company quickly became the leading express throughout California by expanding routes and purchasing smaller express companies. On February 23, 1855 Adams & Co's Express closed their California operations as a result of a financial and banking crisis.

Per Steamer California to Panama, thence via N. York, per Adams & Co Express, To be Mailed in N York extended endorsement on Gibb correspondence, linen-lined cover to Glasgow, Scotland, after carriage by Adams express it entered the mails at New York as quadruple rate postage due, on July 2, 1853, red London transit and orange Glasgow arrival backstamps


(page image, stock #9007, $1,250) (sold)

Adams & Co's Express San Francisco Apr 14 (1854) blue double circle datestamp on inbound cover to Stockton, California, originated in New York and carried by Vanderbilt line steamer, "Via Nicaragua In Advance of the Mail" oval, pair 3c dull red (#11) with pen cancels as carried out of the mails, ex Haas and Walske


(page image, stock #9008, $7,500) (sold)

Adams & Co's Express Mormon Island, double line oval handstamp on cover inbound, via Sacramento City, to Auburn, originated with two copies 3c dull red (#11) tied by "Paid" grid cancel, red " postmark, endorsed by Adam's agent for delivery with "Auburn" and $1.00 express fee due, PF cert, ex Dale Lichtenstein and Walske


(page image, stock #9009, $1,250) (sold)

Adams & Co's Express Angels, oval handstamp with October 30 (1854) date on folded cover to Sacramento, addressed to John Denver, Secretary of State of California the only reported example of the Adams Express Angels office marking, ex Haas and Kramer


(page image, stock #9103, $1,200)(sold)

Adams & Co's Express Vallejo red lined double oval handstamp and matching boxed "Paid" handstamp on 3c red Nesbitt entire, with seal on reverse, to San Francisco, with Nesbitt seal on flap, very fine, ex Bartels, Dale Lichtenstein and Whitington


(page image, stock #9010, $1,500) (sold)

Adams & Co. Paid "over our California and Coast Routes" first type printed frank, horizontally, on non government entire to San Francisco, red oval "Adams & Co. Placerville Dec 4" (1854) datestamp, fewer than five examples recorded, ex Dale Lichtenstein and Whitington


(page image, stock #9011, $6,000) (sold)

Berford  & Co's Express (1849 - Feb 1855)

Berford & Co's Letter & Package Express was founded by Richard G. Berford in the fall of 1849 after his arrival in San Francisco on May 8. The express operated between coasts and advertised agents on all Pacific and Atlantic steamers. A December 1849 advertisement listed offices in San Francisco, Sacramento City (T. J. Bayless), San Jose (Plitt), and Stockton. In December 1850 they began advertising as the only express operating to San Jose. The last California advertisement for his ocean to ocean service appeared on February 26, 1855.


Berford & Cos Letter & Package Express California red shield handstamp on cover from San Francisco to New York, docketed as received in New York January 9, 1850 the earliest of five reported covers bearing this first handstamp of the company, ex Clifford, Vogel and Walske


(page image, stock #9012, $3,500)(sold)


Bowers Express (1850 - 1852)

Bowers Express operated between Nevada City and San Francisco via Grass Valley and Rough and Ready when they started in the express business in 1850. After June 1851, the express worked in concert with Freeman & Cos Express for carriage between Sacramento and San Francisco.


Bowers Express / Forwarded By black oval handstamp on part letter probably from Nevada City area mines to Richmond, Virginia by Bowers Express from Nevada City to San Francisco post office, faint San Francisco October 19 postmark and "40" due handstamp, the earliest of seven reported examples, ex Dale - Lichtenstein and Walske


(page image, stock #9013, $2,000) (sold)


Brown's Express Co. (Jun 1850 - Apr 1853)

Brown's Express was one of the principal express operators to the southern mines. Founded by W. A. Brown in June 1850, he connected with both Todd & Co. and Newell & Co. operating between (Stockton and San Francisco and they, in turn connected at San Francisco with Adam's Express for ocean to ocean service. Brown was murdered on April 2, 1853 and the express continued under his name even though it was then operated by Adams Express.

Brown's Express Murphy's large blue double oval handstamp, mostly clear, and double line octagonal "Paid" on cover to Stockton, fewer than five reported examples of this marking, ex Whitington

(page image, stock #9014, $250)(sold)



(California) Penny Post Company (Jun 1855 - May 1856)

The California Penny Post was established by Henry L. Goodwin in San Francisco on June 25, 1855. The latest advertisement found appeared in the October 4, 1855 issue of Prices Current & Shipping List although the firm continued to operate. Exceptionally, this company operated only as a letter express and did not carry express matter. They provided city delivery via their local post. Goodwin ran afoul of the San Francisco postmaster as he usually used government mails for carriage between cities. The latest newspaper notice found, not related to lawsuits, appeared in the May 26, 1856 Sacramento Daily Union thanking the Penny Post for delivery of San Francisco news.

To The Penny Post Co., Penny Postage Paid 7, black frank (#34LU11B), with imprint on reverse listing the Penny-Post Company address and the several cities to which service was provided, on 3c red Nesbitt entire used to San Francisco, entered the mails with Pleasant Springs, California Jun 2 double circle postmark, ex Whitington


(page image, stock #9017, $3,500) (sold)

To The Penny Post Co., Care Of, Penny Postage Paid 7, blue frank (#34LU11a var, unlisted in blue) on 3c red Nesbitt entire used during last month of operation of the post with Benicia, California May 12 (1856) postmark, three reported examples of this frank in blue, ex Dale Lichtenstein, Golden and Whitington


(page image, stock #9016, $8,500) (sold)

From the Post Office, Care of the Penny Post Co, Paid 5, frank (#34LU3) on 3c red Nesbitt entire to San Francisco, dark blue "Sacramento Penny Post" handstamp, pencil note on verso “Please ask your correspondent to give the number of your store” applied by the company, heavy wrinkles, ex Whitington


(page image, stock #9018, $1,500) (sold)

California Penny Post Company, Paid Seven Cents red embossed seal on 3c Nesbitt Penny Post entire, with imprint at left, (#34LU7), Sacramento, Penny Post handstamp and used to San Francisco, ex Dale-Lichtenstein, Walske


(page image, stock #9015, $7,500) (sold)


Chase's Express (1856 - 1863)

George W. Chase operated his one man express by wagon from Yreka to Humbug and Indian Creek along the Klamath River in northern California. He operated from the Wells, Fargo office at Yreka. The express was sold to Charles Prindle in 1863.

Chase's Express, Paid, Yreka - Deadwood & Indian Creek, colorless embossed ribbon frank on 3c red Nesbitt entire to San Francisco, entered mails with Sacramento City, California May 14 postmark, ex Barkhausen and Whitington


(page image, stock #9019, $1,500) (sold)



Copley's & Co's Miners' Express (1855 - 1856)

This express operated from Marysville to the Gibsonville Ridge and the Feather River mines. It operated in 1855 and 1856.

Copley & Co's Miners' Express red ornamented oval handstamp on 10c Green Nesbitt entire used to Sempronius, New York, entered the mails with blue Marysville, California December 4 "Paid By Stamps" postmark and with matching grid cancel tying indicia, six recorded examples of this red handstamp, ex Kapiloff, Salzer and Whitington


(page image, stock #9020, $6,000) (sold)

Cram Rogers & Co Express (1851 - Mar 1855)

Cram Rogers & Co's Express operated to the mines in the Shasta area and extending into mining areas in Oregon. Over the period of operation, from 1851 until March 27, 1855, they connected with Gregory's, Adams, and Newell & Co. expresses.

Cram Rogers & Co Express San Francisco & Shasta, blue oval handstamp on inbound cover, Ridgeway, Wisconsin manuscript origin postmark and "40" rate, blue Gregory's Express two line handstamp, manuscript "$3.00" due, including 40˘ US postage, 2˘ advertised letter fee, and express charges, three reported examples of this oval marking, edges worn, ex Vogel and Walske


(page image, stock #9021, $2,500) (sold)

Cram Rogers & Co Express Yreka, blue oval handstamp on cover to San Francisco with 3c dull red (#11) tied by pencil stroke cancel, carried by Cram Rogers from the mines to Shasta, conjunctive use and carried by Adams & Co express onward to San Francisco, Adams Express Shasta Jan 18 (1855) red oval datestamp and red Adams Marysville Jan 20 datestamp, ex Dale - Lichtenstein and Whitington


(page image, stock #9022, $4,500)(sold)

Davis & Brother's Express (1852 - 1854)

Virtually nothing is known of this express. An E. G. Davis appears as the master of a steamboat operating between Sacramento and Marysville after August 1854. He may have previously been involved with the express.


Davis & Brother's Express oval on inbound 1852 cover from Bloomingville, New York, via New York City to Marysville by government mails, 10˘ postage due cover was endorsed to be delivered to Evert's & Co's Express but carried by Davis & Brothers Express from Marysville to Onion Valley, manuscript endorsement and $1.50 due two reported examples of Davis & Brother's Express marking, ex Pearce and Walske

(page image, stock #9031, $2,500) (sold)


Deming & Wall Union and Eureka Express (ca. 1856 - 1857)

This express was founded by Byron Deming and William H. Wall and operated in Humboldt County, California between Union (Uniontown, now Arcata) and Eureka. In 1860 Byron Deming is listed in "Stimson's Express Directory" as an agent for Wells, Fargo in Uniontown.

Deming & Wall, Union and Eureka Express, Paid printed steamboat and sailing ship illustrated frank, on cover to Bucksport (nearby in Humboldt county), the only known cover of this express company, illustrated in Letters of Gold, page 181, ex Haas, Edwards and Whitington

(page image, stock #9023, $7,500)(sold)

Dodge & Co's Express (Oct 1850 - Aug 1851)

Dodge & Co's Express first advertised their express service on the ocean to ocean route on October 14, 1850 and their last advertisement appeared on August 4, 1851. They served as agents for Mumby & Co's Express in San Francisco and arranged shipments of gold and letters, via Panama, to the East.


Dodge & Co's Express / Forwarded By, clear red oval handstamp and "Free" on circa May 1851 folded cover to Panama, addressed to the editor of the Panama Echo, wxpress companies often carried letters and newspapers free to editors of newspapers who in return were expected to thank the express company in print for supplying the current news, two reported covers bear the company handstamp, Illustrated in Letters of Gold, ex Haas, Edwards and Walske

(page image, stock #9024, $2,500)(sold)

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Richard Frajola (May 15, 2013)