1854 Open Provision & 1858 French Convention Mail
1854 Providence, RI to Paris, France Via New York, Liverpool and Calais
1858 Paris, France to Providence, RI via Calais, Liverpool and Boston
Both were sent to Mrs. Marshall Woods
(Anne Brown Francis Woods)
(Scroll Down for Background Information & Family History)

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The two covers shown above were both sent to Mrs. Marshal Woods, (Anne Brown Francis Woods); the first to Paris, France in 1854 and the second to Providence, Rhode Island in 1858. The covers, spanning a period of four years are an excellent illustration of the transition from the Open Mail Provision to French Convention Mail established in 1857. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that through Mrs. Marshal; these covers also tie in with the Brown and Ives collection
SEE: Brown Family Letters and SEE ALSO: Brown Family Genealogy & History

There was no formal protocol between the United States and France before April 1, 1857. The majority of mail between France and the U. S. was carried under the open mail provisions of the British Treaty mail (21c/5c). Transatlantic mail to France during this time transited from either Boston or New York via Liverpool or Southampton and then to Calais or occasionally Havre

The 1854 Cover to the left was sent via the Pre-1857 Open Mail Provision of the British Treaty Mail. The cover contains a Providence red serifed CDS dated May 1 and a Black Straight-Line Paid, a Script Red 5 and a Hand-stamped Red 5, a red serifed New York - British Packet CDS; and a red Paris, France Double-ring Serifed CDS dated May 16. The rate for Open Mail to France via British Packet from the United States after 1851 was 3 cents U. S. inland mail, 10 cents British Packet, 3 cents British inland rate and 15 cents due the French Post Office for a total of 31 cents. The  black script 8 at the upper left corner of the cover indicates 8 decimes (or 15 cents)  was due on the French postal charge and the Black script 26 to the right indicates the total due of 26 cents, (5 cents was prepaid).

NOTE: In 1854; 1 Decime = 100 Centimes or slightly less than 2 cents U. S.

The Cover left New York aboard the Cunard liner RMS Asia on May 3, 1854 and arrived in Liverpool, England on May 14. It arrived in Calais on May 15 and in Paris on May 16, 1854.

The 1858 Cover to the right was sent via the French Convention established on April 1, 1857. This convention set up a separate postal system utilizing the existing routes and packet lines. The rate to France was 15 cents per 1/4 ounce. Prepayment was optional, however partial payment was not recognized. For instance; if the 3 cent U. S. inland rate had been paid, but not the transatlantic and French inland rates, then the cover would have been charged at the entire rate as if totally unpaid. 

The Cover bears the inscription "Etats Unis A Amerique," (American Service) at top left, however the red octagonal "BR Services" handstamp and the cancel dates indicate that this cover traveled on the Cunard liner RMS Niagara, departing Liverpool on July 31, 1858 and arriving in Boston on August 13. There is a red rectangular Paid Handstamp at the upper right and a red Boston Paid 10 Serifed CDS dated August 13 at top left with a Script 16 in black next to it. French Convention Mail to the U. S. via British Packet breaks down as follows: 4 cents French inland, 2 cents British transit, 6 cents Transatlantic, and 3 cents United States inland for a total of 15 cents.

Source: U. S. Postal Markings 1851-61 (2nd edition - 1979) by Thomas J. Alexander

Marshall Woods was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1824. He graduated from Brown University in 1845 and received a medical degree from the University of New York in 1848, although he never actually practiced the medical profession. Marshall Woods married Anne Francis Brown, the granddaughter of Nicholas Brown, (Brown & Ives) in 1848. Marshall and Anne had two children; Abigail Francis Woods born on May 27, 1849 and John Carter Brown Woods born on June 12, 1851

Marshall was the director of the Providence National Bank and dealt in real estate and other investments. He is listed as a merchant on the 1870 census. The 1880 census lists his personal wealth as; real estate $529,000.00 and personal assets $322,000.00. In addition, there are 7 domestic servants listed as living in the household indicating that the family was quite well off. Marshall was also an accomplished scholar in the fields of literature and art and in 1871 he donated $3000.00 to Brown University for the establishment of a "Lectureship on Fine Arts." He served as a commissioner to the 1855 Paris Exposition and also served as the treasurer for Brown University from 1866 to 1882. Marshall Brown died in London, England in 1899.

Anne Brown Francis Woods was born in Warwick, Rhode Island on April 23, 1828. She was the daughter of Governor John Brown Francis and Anne Brown. She was the granddaughter of Nicholas Brown (Brown & Ives) on her mother's side and the great-granddaughter of John Brown (The Four Brothers) on her father's side. She married Marshall Woods in 1848. Anne Brown Francis Woods died in Providence, Rhode Island on August 24, 1896.

Anne's son, John Carter Brown Woods graduated from Brown University in 1873 and Harvard Law in 1874. He served as a trustee of Brown University from 1884 on. He was active in politics and served as a State Representative from 1881 to 1887 and a State Senator in 1891 and 1894 to 1896. John was the founder of the Hope Club in Providence and served as President of the club from 1892 to 1898. He is the source through his articles and books on much of the Brown family history. John Carter Brown Woods died in Providence in 1930

The Dr. Marshall Woods House designed by Richard Upjohn in 1860 was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. It is located on 62 Prospect Street, Providence, RI and was constructed in the Italianate architectural style popular between the years 1850 to 1874. The house currently serves as the administrative and admission offices for the Rhode Island School of Design and houses the Woods-Gerry Gallery.

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