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An Early Usage of a Stamped Envelope Circa 1854

This envelope was probably mailed sometime around 1854, and unless the sender made a mistake in calculating the amount of postage needed, it must have been a hefty missive.

The letter was mailed from Attica, New York to Syracuse, New York, a distance of just over 120 miles. The letter rate at the time for an item traveling 3,000 miles or less was 3-cents per 1/2-ounce. This envelope includes 6-cents worth of postage, so this letter must have weighed a full ounce, or the sender paid twice the postage needed.

It's an interesting item in that it's an early usage of a stamped envelope. Stamped envelopes were first sold in the US in 1853, and this particular envelope - based on the die of the embossed image and the buff color of the envelope - was first put on sale in 1854. In the US Scott catalog, it is number U10. This would have been sold at a post office for 3-cents plus the cost of manufacturing.

All stamped envelopes were required to be printed on watermarked paper. The watermark on this envelope can be seen on the flap (Figure 3). The image is "POD" (you can't see the "P") over "US."

The envelope also includes a copy of a 3-cent imperforated stamp, which in the US Scott catalog is number 11a. That stamp was issued between 1852 and 1855.

The "ATTICA NY" postmark is pretty sharp, but other than the date of the 29th, you can't make out the month. The year, of course, was not part of this circular date stamp, but the likely year can be narrowed down by the year the stamped envelope and stamp were issued.

The recipient of this missive was Myron C. Merriman of Syracuse. Mr. Merriman was a Syracuse businessman and lawyer who was born in 1819 in Elbridge, New York. He moved to Syracuse around 1848. He died at age 83 in 1902 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.

He had a sister who resided in Attica, and she could well have posted this letter.

Figure 1 - Front

Figure 2 - Back

Figure 3 - Watermark on flap

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