Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
1858 Stampless Folded Cover from Williams Park & Co. - Liverpool, England
To The Providence Tool Co. Via the British Mail Packet "Asia"
(Scroll Down for Background Information and Complete Text of Letter)

The Stampless Folded Letter shown above and to the right was sent collect from Liverpool, Great Britain by Williams Park & Co to The Providence Tool Company. It was dated December 10, 1858 and made the voyage across the Atlantic on the British Mail Packet "Asia," which left Liverpool on December 11, arriving in New York on December 27th. and received the BR Packet Marking at the New York Post Office on December 28th.
(Asia departed New York on January 5, 1859 and arrived back in Liverpool on January 16th.)

The Postal Act of March 3, 1855 - effective on April 1, 1855 made the prepayment of all domestic mail compulsory, however prepayment of letters to and from foreign destinations did not become compulsory until 1875.

Tracing of the CDS

The postal rate for this Stampless Folded Letter was set by a treaty with Great Britain on December 15, 1848 - effective February 15, 1849. This treaty rate was in effect until January 1, 1868, when the rate was reduced to 12 cents.

The rate as indicated in The Circular Date Stamp (CDS) was 24 cents and broke down as follows: 3 cents - British Inland Postage, 16 Cents - Sea Postage and 5 cents - United States Inland Postage.

British Date Marking
on Reverse of Cover

The 19 cent marking to the left of the BR Packet CDS is the combined British Inland and Sea Postage rates. There is also a Liverpool date stamp to the lower left side of the cover and another British date marking on the reverse. (Shown at Left). The letter arrived in New York City on December 28th, where it received the "BR Packet - Dec 28 - 24" marking and was sent overland from New York to Providence, Rhode Island.

RMS Asia was one of the Cunard Line's Royal Mail Steam Packets. The company was founded in 1840 as the "British and North America Royal Mail Steam Packet Company" by Samuel Cunard, a ship owner from Nova Scotia. The name was changed to the Cunard Steamship Company in 1878.

The first four ships of the line were contracted to the noted naval architect and Mr. Cunard's partner, Mr. R. Napier. They were the wooden paddle steamships Britannia - launched on February 7, 1840; followed by the Acadia, Caledonia and Columbia.

The Britannia was 200 feet in length overall and had a beam of 32 feet. The Britannia sailed on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic on July 4, 1840. The crossing to Halifax, Nova Scotia took 12 days and 15 hours and she reached Boston in 14 days and 8 hours. During the next thirteen years the company added eight more ships to the line including Hibernia, Cambria, Europa, America, Niagara, Canada, Africa, and Asia, (the ship which carried this letter).

The first Iron built ship, Australian was acquired by the line in 1853 and from this time on, all Cunard built ships were constructed of either iron or steel. Beginning in 1869, the company faced competition from the White Star Line and for the next forty years the two companies would battle for supremacy. Cunard built 21 additional ships during this period including such notable ships as; Campania, Lucania, Carinthia, Sylvania, Ivernia, and Saxonia and in 1907, Lusitania followed by  Mauretania, Aquitania, and Berengaria.  The Cunard Line merged with the White Star Line in 1934 and became the Cunard-White Star Limited Line.

The Asia, (2,226 tons) was built in 1850 and sailed for the Cunard Line until 1867, when she was sold and converted to sail. During the time this letter was sent, the Asia's master was Captain E. G. Lott.

Via "Asia"                                                                                                                        Liverpool  Dec: 10th 1858

Messrs The Providence Tool Company
                    Providence, Rhode Island

Dear Sirs, 
                   We Annex invoice of hinge iron shipped Via "Island Bight" which we hope will reach you safely. The quality is very superior & we trust it will please.
                   We are daily expecting your Refd  B?? - (lost from letter in breaking the seal) iron, which will be shipped on arrival with all possible dispatch --
                   We are glad to say the iron market is gradually improving. There is a good demand & every prospect of higher prices ere long. Your further orders will oblige.

Dear Sirs :                                                                                        Yours Truly, 

                                                             Williams Park & Co

RI Historical Society
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Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
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