VERY FINE. ONLY NINE EXAMPLES OF THE HONOLULU STRAIGHTLINE POSTMARK ARE RECORDED STRUCK IN BLUE. A GREAT HAWAIIAN RARITY.
This cover was carried on the bark Spartacus, which departed Honolulu November 7, 1850, and arrived in San Francisco on December 10. It was carried to Panama on the California, which departed on December 15 and arrived on January 3, 1851. After crossing the Isthmus by mule and riverboat, it left Chagres on the Falcon, which departed on January 12 or 13 and arrived in New York on January 24 after a stop at Havana.
Fred Gregory records a total of 35 examples of this straightline marking. Of these, the first nine are struck in blue, including one other with the same markings and sent on the same ships as the example offered here. The change from blue to black seems to have occurred after December 7, 1850.
VERY FINE. A BEAUTIFUL CLEAR STRIKE OF THE HONOLULU STRAIGHTLINE DATESTAMP ON A 42-CENT RATE COVER TO THE EAST COAST.
This cover was carried to San Francisco on the British clipper ship John Calvin, which departed Honolulu on Apr. 30, 1851, and arrived on May 24. It was carried to Panama on the Constitution, which departed on Jun. 1 and arrived on Jun. 23. After crossing the isthmus by mulepack and riverboat, it left Chagres on the Empire City, which departed on Jun. 26 and arrived in New York on Jul. 6 after stopping at Kingston, Jamaica.
Gregory Census No. 24. Ex Van Dyke, Ishikawa and Golden. With 2011 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE STRIKE OF THE HONOLULU STRAIGHTLINE, THE FIRST HANDSTAMPED POSTMARK OF HAWAII, USED BY HAWAII’S FIRST POSTMASTER, HENRY M. WHITNEY.
Fred Gregory records a total of 35 examples of this straightline marking. This letter was carried on the Corsair, which departed Honolulu January 31, 1851, and arrived in San Francisco on February 19. It was then carried on the PMSS California from San Francisco to Panama on March 5, 1851. After crossing the isthmus, it was carried on the USMSS Georgia, which departed Chagres around March 27, stopped at Havana on April 3, and arrived in New York on April 7.
Gregory census no. 14. Illustrated in Ashbrook, Vol. II, page 242. Ex Honolulu Advertiser and Goldberg.
VERY FINE. A BEAUTIFUL AND RARE COVER FROM THE EXPLORER CARL VON DITMAR ON HIS EXPEDITION TO THE REMOTE KAMCHATKA PENINSULA IN THE EASTERN SIBERIAN MARITIME PROVINCE. MAILED FROM HAWAII TO RUSSIA VIA SAN FRANCISCO, PANAMA, NEW YORK AND BY AMERICAN PACKET TO BREMEN.
We are aware of three covers from Hawaii to Russia. This cover and another (ex Honolulu Advertiser and William H. Gross) are addressed to Madame C(onde) von Ditmar in Addafer. The third cover is addressed to Y. L. Lortsch in Libau. The manuscript notation “P.P. Hafen” on the back of this cover and the other to Madame von Ditmar identify their origin. “P.P. Hafen” is an abbreviation for Petropavlovsk Hafen (Harbor), located in the Eastern Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. From 1851 to 1855 this remote volcanic region was explored and mapped by Carl von Ditmar (the subject of his book, Reisen and Aufenthalt in Kamchatka in den Jahren 1851-1855). Von Ditmar wrote the letter once contained in this cover on March 23, 1853 (as per receipt docketing) and sent it to Honolulu, probably on a passing whaling vessel. At Honolulu the forwarders, Hackfeld & Co., placed it in the Hawaii-U.S. mail for Russia.
Once it entered the mail at Honolulu, the cover was carried by the British brig Gazelle, which departed Lahaina on June 4, 1853, and arrived in San Francisco on July 5. From there it was carried to Panama on the PMSS Brother Jonathan, which departed on July 15 and arrived around July 28. It crossed the isthmus and was carried from Aspinwall to New York by the USMSS Illinois, which departed on August 1 and arrived on August 10. At New York it was put on the Ocean Line’s Washington, which departed on August 13 and arrived at Bremen on August 29. The address lists “St. Petersbourg, Dorpat et Oberpahlen a Addafer” as transit points, which are today in Russia and Estonia. After a journey of more than five months, it reached Madame von Ditmar in early September.
From July 1, 1851, to August 15, 1853, the Bremen Convention rate to Russia was 20c (retained by the U.S.), regardless of the distance to New York. The 28c rate indicated on this cover apparently includes 6c for transcontinental postage (an error) and the 2c ship fee. Postage due to the German postal system was collected from the addressee.
In 1854, the French and British, who were battling Russian forces on the Crimean Peninsula, attacked Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. During the Siege of Petropavlovsk, 988 men with a mere 68 guns managed to defend the outpost against 6 ships with 206 guns and 2,540 French and British soldiers. Despite the heroic defense, Petropavlovsk was abandoned as a strategic liability after the Anglo-French forces withdrew. The next year when a second enemy force came to attack the port, they found it deserted. Frustrated, the ships bombarded the city and withdrew.
Illustrated in Richard F. Winter’s article, “United States-Russia Mail: 1840-1875, Part 1: Bremen Mail, British Mail, Prussian Closed Mail” (Chronicle 241), and Gregory’s Hawaii Foreign Mail to 1870 (Vol. I, p. 314). Ex Golden.