VERY FINE. AN EXCEPTIONALLY CLEAR STRIKE OF THE "SOUTHN. LETTER UNPAID" HANDSTAMP OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY. ONE OF ONLY FIVE RECORDED COVERS WITH THIS MARKING ADDRESSED TO A FOREIGN DESTINATION.
The U.S. May 27, 1861, mail suspension order prohibited Federal post offices from forwarding southbound mail to Southern states in rebellion. However, northbound mail from the South continued to be sent to Louisville, Kentucky. Through June 6, northbound mails were forwarded to Louisville from Memphis or Nashville. From June 7 through 12, only the Nashville office forwarded mail to Louisville, and Louisville continued to forward mail north.
With the resignation of W. D. McNish as Nashville's Federal postmaster on June 12 and the withdrawal of the U.S. mail agent from this route, Louisville held the mails still being sent north by the discontinued post office at Nashville. On June 24, Dr. John J. Speed, the postmaster at Louisville, was advised to forward letters from the South to the loyal states after removing postage. With approximately 5,000 such letters held at this date, Dr. Speed employed a more practical means of invalidating stamps by creating the "Southn. Letter Unpaid" handstamp. There are 29 "Southn. Letter Unpaid" covers recorded in the Special Routes book, including five foreign-bound covers, as follows:
1 To Prussia, Louisville June 27, three 10¢ No. 35, from St. Francisville La., ex Brown, J. D. Baker, Grunin, Ishikawa and Gross, offered in this sale as lot 226
2 To France, Louisville June 27, 3¢ U27, from Bayou Chene La., ex Wunsch and Myers (Sale 882, lot 2001), the cover offered here
3 To France, Louisville June 27, 3c and 12c Nos. 26 and 36B, from New Orleans, ex Shenfield, Sweet, Judd, Kilbourne and Walske (Sale 1119, lot 564)
4 To France, no Louisville datestamp, 3c and 12c Nos. 26 and 36B, from New Orleans to France, ex Antrim and Wishnietsky (Sale 1064, lot 23)
5 To England, Louisville July 11, 24c No. 37, from Petersburg Va., ex Matthies, Dr. Graves and Weill Brothers
Special Routes census no. SLU-5. Ex Wunsch and Myers. Signed Ashbrook. With 2004 P.F. certificate