A REMARKABLE FRANKING PAYING THE 50-CENT "PREFERRED MAIL" RATE THAT WAS ANNOUNCED IN APRIL 1863 AND SUPERSEDED BY THE 40-CENT TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPRESS MAIL RATE ONE MONTH LATER.
On April 16, 1863, Congress authorized a "preferred" mail service to be established by the Post Office Department to maintain communication across the Mississippi River, and to provide for "more speedy transmission of letters and dispatches." The rate in the statute was set at 50c per half ounce, and preferential handling was to be given to such mails. Although Jaronski found records of at least eight mail carrying trips undertaken by C.S.A. military officers in 1863, only five surviving "Preferred Mail" rate covers are known, all westbound.
Black Hawk, Mississippi, lies about 90 miles north of Brandon, where mail accumulated for westbound express runs across the Mississippi River. Very few examples of Confederate mail postmarked at Black Hawk are known (this and a larger dateless circle are recorded). Based on the use of the 5c Local (Richmond) print, it seems likely that this was used in early 1863, prior to the October 1863 "Express" period (for which the 40c rate was intended). Of the five "Preferred Mail" covers recorded, this cover, although undated, is considered to be the earliest.
Illustrated in Krieger book (no. E50) and Special Routes (p. 103). Ex Everett, Birkinbine and Walske
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. AN EXTRAORDINARY FRANKING FOR THE 40-CENT TRANS-MISSISSIPI RATE.
This cover front is No. W6 in the Krieger census. One other cover with a similar franking is recorded from this correspondence, but the stamps are on back and there are no postal markings (possibly carried privately). A 50c "Preferred Mail" rate paid by 5c Local Prints exists, and it, too, is a front only.
With 1975 C.S.A. certificate as Scott No. 6