US postal - Philatelic Research

    Study guide: 1847 Period

  The 1847 Postal Issues

1847 Adhesive Stamps


On March 3, 1847, the future of the U.S. postage stamp was cast. Congress voted and passed an Act to establish Post Roads as well as for other purpose's. Effective July 1, 1847, the placement of an adhesive stamp on letter could prepay its necessary postage. With the authority vested in him by the statute to prepare postage stamps, Postmaster General Cave Johnson retained Rawdon, Wright, Hatch and Edson (RWH&E), a New York City banknote engraver and printer for the task. His choice was likely premised on the fact that RWH&E was the prominent firm of their time and they had engraved and printed the New York Postmasters' Provisional two years prior.

Philatelic History 

Early postal history

In the American colonies, informal independently-run postal routes began in Boston as early as 1639, with Boston to New York City service starting in 1672.

Officially-sanctioned mail service began in 1692 when King William III granted to an English nobleman a delivery "patent" that included the exclusive right to establish and collect a formal postal tax on official documents of all kinds. (Years later, taxation implemented through the mandatory purchase of stamps was an issue that helped to spark the American Revolution.) The tax was repealed a year later, and very few were ever actually used in the thirteen colonies, but they saw service in Canada and the British Caribbean islands.[1]

In the years leading up to the American Revolution mail routes among the colonies existed along the few roads between Boston, New York and Philadelphia. In the middle 18th century individuals like Benjamin Franklin and William Goddard were the colonial postmasters who managed the mails then and were the general architects of a postal system that started out as an alternative to the Crown Post (the colonial mail system then) which was now becoming more distrusted as the American Revolution drew near. The postal system that Franklin and Goddard forged out of the American Revolution became the standard for the new U.S. Post Office and is a system whose basic designs are still in used in the United States Post Office today.

Post offices and postmarks

Ellisville Post Office, Illinois, 1891
In 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General, the U.S. Post Office was born. So important was the Postmaster General that in 1829 this position was included among those in the President's Cabinet. As America began to grow and new towns and villages began to appear, so too did the Post Office along with them. The dates and postmarks generated from these places often has provided the historian with a window into a given time and place in question. Each postmark is uniquely distinctive with its own name of state and town, in addition to its distinctive date. Post Offices that existed along railroad lines and at various military posts have their own special historical aspect. Mail and postmarks generated from prisoner of war camps during the Civil War, or from aboard Naval ships, each with a U.S. Post Office aboard, can and have offered amazing insights into United States history and are avidly sought after by historians and collectors alike.

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JPCohen - 3 1851 stamp project: We continue Dr. Chase's work on the 1851 3 Washington stamp; offering a fresh look at this important US postal issue. This is perhaps the most collected US stamp ever issued. Currently we have over 3000 reference items in my personal research library, with a goal is to make them reviewable here at this site. We have two plate reconstructions in progress plate 2 and 3. If you have any singles from these plates contact us today, we would like to consider an acquisition or your gift in kind. UPDATE! You can now download a free sample copy of our book, before its even published!

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