Rhode Island Stampless
Covers & Letters
1866 Steamship Cover - Havana, Cuba
to Bristol, Rhode Island
Via Steamship Columbia (New York Steamship 10 Marking)
(Scroll Down for Background Information on Steamship Mail &
Text of Letter)
The Stampless Folded Letter
above was sent by the Agent,
J. E. F. Sanchez
in Havana, Cuba
to the Agent C. H. R. Doringh in Bristol,
Rhode Island. (I
believe that both the sender and recipient were lawyers judging
by the contents of the letter and were representing their
respective parties in some litigation.)
The letter traveled by the contract
which was owned by the "Atlantic
Mail Steamship Company"
of New York. The
"Steamship / 10"
marking was applied by the New York Post Office
and the letter was forwarded to Bristol. The Steamship Marking
is listed in
Volume II of the
"American Stampless Cover Catalog"
as C28 and has a
diameter of 28 centimeters. This
particular marking is readily identifiable by the
wide spacing between the S and
H of Ship. It was in use from
1851 to 1867.
Steamship Mail first appeared in
1849 and was in continuous use until 1875.
This marking unlike the "SHIP" marking, which applied to
mail entering the United states on
was carried via steamships that were
to the United States Post Office. The Steamship
marking is considered an Origin Marking
and was applied to identify these letters as distinct from ship
mail. The routes sailed by the contract steamships were
considered to be "Post Roads"
by the USPS and included the Caribbean,
Central and South America.
The initial steamship rates established in
1847 and in effect from 1848 to
1851 varied by port of origin. For example: Mail sent
to and from Cuba was rated at 121/2
cents and mail from Chagres, Panama
was rated at 20 cents. In 1851
Steamship rates were standardized at 10 cents for
letters traveling less than 2500 miles and
20 cents for letters traveling over 2500 miles.
The Postal Act of June 30, 1864,
effective on July 1, 1864 created a single
rate for all steamship mail regardless of the distance
traveled. The rate was set at 10 cents and this
continued until 1875 when the rate was reduced to
5 cents to conform to the Universal Postal Union
rate which applied to all mail sent and received from other
countries. Steamship markings were discontinued when the UPU
rates came into effect.
is advising Mr. Doringh that a Mr. Morales
remains unavailable and that the lawsuit against Mr.
Avedra has not yet been settled.
The Complete Letter Text
Havana, 2nd November 1866
C. H. R. Doringh Esq.
Agent Bristol R. I.
Since I addressed
you last on the 26' inst., as per
enclosed press copy, I have received your favor of 23rd
same month and have
taken due note of the contents. __
Mr. Morales continues still to be
very sick and is not allowed
to transact any business as the doctor considers any kind
of exertions to be
dangerous. I have arranged with the manager of Morales to
watch his chance
and seize the first favorable opportunity to propose to
him the discounting of
the plaso of 1867 and to advise me of the venues, which I
shall report to you
as soon as I know it.
The expenses of the lawsuit against
Sr. Avedra have not yet
been settled, but I am assured by the notary that they
will soon be arranged.
Very Truly Yours
Agt. JEF Sanchez
VIEW: A Second Cover from the
same period with an identical (C28) Steamship cancellation.
The second cover has a crisper strike
and shows the gap between the S and H on the steamship marking
much more clearly.
Full Size Letter
Recommended Reading for further
United States Incoming Steamship Mail: 1847 to 1875
Theron Wierenga 1983
American Stampless Cover Catalog - Volume II (David G. Phillips