Colonel Asa Holman Waters II (1808-1887) was a wealthy and well-educated
resident of Millbury, Massachusetts, a mill town near Worcester with a
population of 3,000 in the 1850’s. Holman was graduated from Yale in 1829 and
earned his law degree from Harvard. His considerable family wealth came from
manufacturing guns, including the 1836 Army Flintlock Pistol made by Waters and
Johnson from 1836 to 1844 (source: www.gunandswordcollector.com/Templates/articles/
10_asa_waters.html). The mansion he built in 1832 still stands as a historical site.
Waters received his postmaster’s appointment from Andrew Jackson on January 18,
1836, and he served as nominal postmaster through the administrations of
Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler and Polk. Most of the functions of
postmaster were performed by Waters’ deputy, Henry Waterman, a local jeweler,
who was directly responsible for issuing the adhesive provisional stamp in 1846.
Waterman succeeded Colonel Waters as postmaster on November 10, 1848.
The distinctive Millbury provisional stamp is one of two postmasters’ 1845-47
issues with portraits, both of which depict George Washington (the other is the
New York City adhesive). The Millbury was printed by typography from a single
woodcut die. The cartoon-like portrait is a three-quarter portrait of
Washington, with the words “Post Office” above and “Paid 5 Cts.” below, but the
post office name is entirely absent. All known examples are printed in black on
a bluish white paper. The town postmark used on mail spells the name “Milbury”
with one L, but the official spelling is with two L’s.