FINE. A REMARKABLE AND RARE RETALIATORY RATE COVER FROM BOSTON TO NOVA SCOTIA VIA NEW YORK. ONLY TEN RETALIATORY RATE COVERS BEARING U.S. STAMPS ARE RECORDED, AND THIS IS ONE OF ONLY TWO TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA.
The full history of the Retaliatory Rate period is told in our catalogue for the famous Rush cover, available at http://www.siegelauctions.com/2006/912/912.pdf . The so-called Retaliatory Period resulted from Great Britain's effort to maintain its monopoly on transatlantic mail carriage through the subsidized Cunard steamship line, which operated without competition from 1840 through 1846. In response to the emergence of subsidized American packets in 1847 (the Ocean Line), the British issued an order (effective June 9, 1847) authorizing its receiving offices to collect the usual British packet postage on letters carried to England by American subsidized steamers. This effectively allowed England to collect 24c packet charges for every inbound letter, whether or not any service had been performed.
The United States vehemently protested the British order through diplomatic channels, but efforts to persuade the government to rescind the anti-American postal tariff were unsuccessful. In December 1847, U.S. Postmaster General Cave Johnson petitioned Congress for power to levy like charges on mail carried by British steamers to or from the United States, but he was not authorized to do so until June 1848. On all Cunard sailings from June 24, 1848 (the Caledonia from Liverpool) through December 31, 1848 (the Europa arriving at New York), American packet postage was required on all inbound and outbound mail to England whether or not one of the American vessels was used, creating the so-called Retaliatory Rate. Beginning with the departure of the Europa from New York on January 10, 1849, earlier rates were restored, and soon after the new U.S.-British treaty rate was effected.
This cover to Nova Scotia reflects the dispute between Great Britain and the United States. The 10c strip of three pays the 5c rate for internal U.S. postage from Boston to New York, plus a 1c overpayment of the 24c Retaliatory Rate. The letter was carried aboard the Cunarder America, which departed New York on August 16 and stopped at Halifax on its way to Liverpool. The 1sh 8p due from recipient represents the one-shilling charge for British packet postage, plus 8 pence for internal postage for distance of 101 to 200 miles for delivery to Pictou (9 pence in local currency).
USPCS census no. 12904. Ex Pope, Dr. Robertson and Mirsky. With 1985 P.F. certificate