VERY FINE. A RARE "SOUTHN. LETTER UNPAID" COVER WITH THE 3-CENT 1857 ISSUE AND DELIVERED BY THE UNITED STATES POST OFFICE LETTER CARRIER IN WASHINGTON D.C.
This was mailed from Salisbury, North Carolina, during the first week the Confederate postal system was operational. It probably reached Nashville just as the last U.S. route agent mail was carried north to Louisville. The mail received at Louisville on June 13-14 was held pending instructions to Postmaster John J. Speed, which were received by wire on June 24. The first group to be processed with the "Southn. Letter Unpaid" marking (on June 25, but without a datestamp) was actually received in Louisville by private express after the U.S. route agent delivered the mail containing this cover. The second group was processed on June 26 and 27 and has the Louisville datestamp.
United States postage stamps and stamped envelopes used from the South were regarded as contraband and were refused as prepayment. There are 29 "Southn. Letter Unpaid" covers recorded in the Special Routes book (No. 25 has been deleted as a fake since publication), of which only 13 have the 3c U.S. adhesive stamp used to pay the domestic rate. Two of the 13 are used with the New Orleans provisional (offered in this sale) and one is in the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, leaving only ten 3c 1857 Issue stamped covers with the "Southn. Letter Unpaid" marking.
The street address and "Care of Thomas F. Harkness Esqr." directive are clear indications that this was delivered by the letter carrier in Washington D.C. We are unaware of any other "Southn. Letter Unpaid" covers that were clearly marked for carrier delivery. It is likely that this was sent by Commodore Samuel Barron, because he was in North Carolina in June 1861, and he would have been aware of the carrier's name from the time he spent in Washington D.C.
Special Routes Census No. SLU-1 (illustrated on p. 13). Ex Piller. With 1993 P.F. certificate