Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
1838 Business Letter from William H. Allen - New York, NY
to B. Allen & Co., Providence, RI October 1, 1838
1 Cent Drop Rate with Providence CDS
(Scroll Down for a History of Drop Letters)

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(First Page only)

This business letter was sent from William Allen at Rd "3" New York  on October 1, 1838 to B. Allen and Co. Providence, Rhode Island and concerns the sale of the company's goods and the prices realized for them, (A Grand Total of $4209.38). The listed items are different types of laundry supplies. The letter is one folded sheet with two pages and begins as follows:
New York  Oct 1, 1838

Msrs B. Allen & Co.

Enclosed I have the pleasure to show you the sales of Laundry goods as follows:
This is followed by the list of goods and their respective prices which you can view in The full Size Letter. A short history of United States Drop Letters follows below. 


Drop Letters are those letters that were dropped off at a Post Office for the Addressee to pick up at the same Post Office. In the 18th and 19th centuries, everyone had to pick up their mail at the post office unless it was delivered by a private courier. Drop letters were never sent from one Post Office to another and they were sometimes referred to as Box Letters. (The system was similar to General Delivery.) 

The Postal Act of 1794 set the rate for Drop Letters at 1 cent per letter. There was no additional fee by weight or number of sheets. The 1 cent charge was a Fee paid directly to the Postmaster, rather than a rate charge. 

Drop letters were sent either prepaid or collect until February 1861 when the Postal act of that year required that they be prepaid. 

Postal markings on Drop Letters are often lacking or incomplete, since they were delivered and picked up at the same Post Office; it wasn't felt necessary to apply all of the postal marks and cancellations to insure proper delivery. 

The customer or recipient of the Drop Letter would go to the counter at the Post Office, give the clerk his personal information and the clerk would sort through the alphabetically filed letters to find the correct letter. 

Between 1845 and 1851 the Drop Rate was increased to 2 cents, but was reduced to 1 cent again on July 1, 1851. During the 50 percent rate increase of 1816, drop letters should not have been affected as they were a fee and not a rate, however a total of 9 Drop Letters have been found with the 1 1/2  rate applied.

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
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Joseph Tillinghast
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