Rhode Island Stamp Issues and Covers 1901 to 1950
1915 U. S. Postal Agency - Shanghai China
Precursor to the 1919-22 Overprints
Via Nagasaki, Japan to George E. Darling Co. - Providence, RI

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Stamps & Cancel

The Cover above was sent from the "American Concession" in Shanghai, China on May 29, 1915 to the George E. Darling Company in Providence, Rhode Island. The cover traveled via Nagasaki, Japan and then overland by Railroad to Providence. The cancellation type and the non-overprinted stamps seen on this cover were in use from about 1900 until 1919 after which the bureau issued the first overprints in May 1919, (Scott #s 498 to 518), although they were not issued to the public until July 1, 1919.

The United States was granted concession rights in Shanghai in 1861. the American Concession was a sovereign enclave within the city and maintained its own post office, police force and army. The Postal Agency was established in 1867 and was run by the American Consul General. American postal rates were much cheaper than either the British or French postal rates and soon mail for Europe was also using the American mail system. The European mail traveled from China to the west coast of the United States and thence by rail across the continent and then by steamer to Europe.

The amount of mail being handled by the Consulate Post Office had increased to a point in 1907, that a separate post office was required. This independent post office was launched in 1907 with John Darrah as Postmaster. 

The first Shanghai overprints were issued by the U.S. Postal Service in May, 1919. They were issued to the public on July 1, 1919.  The surcharged values on the overprinted issues, (Scott #498 to #518) were all double the normal values on the stamps. All of the issues were overprinted in black ink except for the 7c and $1.00 issues, which were overprinted in red.

By 1922, the supply of the Bureau overprints had run out and the Shanghai Postal Agency issued  new surcharged stamps, which differed from the earlier bureau issues in that they read "2Cts rather than "2."

The U.S. Postal Agency in Shanghai was officially closed on December 31, 1922 and all remaining surcharged stamps were returned to the U. S. Philatelic Agency and later sold to collectors until the supply was exhausted.

There are some earlier overprints that were  printed locally for Postmaster Darrah, however he was reprimanded by the U.S. Postal Service and told not to sell these stamps at his post office. These stamps are listed as local pre-cancels by Scott.

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