A NEW DISCOVERY IN THE FIELD OF CARRIERS AND LOCALS. THE HONOUR'S FIRST ISSUE WAS PREVIOUSLY KNOWN ONLY ON YELLOW AND BROWN ROSE PAPER. THIS STAMP ON BLUISH GRAY PAPER IS UNLISTED AND SCOTT AND PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED.
This is the tenth recorded example of Honour's first-issue stamp. It recently came to light in an estate collection. Its emergence is all the more remarkable, because the stamp is printed on Bluish Gray paper, not the Yellow or Brown Rose papers identified in Scott as 4LB2 and 4LB1, respectively (we refer to them in reverse Scott order, because that is the correct chronological order).
John H. Honour, Superintendent of the Charleston Penny Post, advertised the commencement of carrier service in the Charleston Mercury on May 9, 1849. The earliest recorded Honour's cover is postmarked May 24, 1849, establishing the oval stamp on Yellow paper (Scott 4LB2, four recorded) as the likely first issue of the Charleston carrier stamps. The same design on Brown Rose paper (4LB1, five recorded) is known with July and August 1849 dates. The wording and configuration are identical to the contemporary Boyd's Eagle & Globe stamps (without the Eagle vignette). The Bluish Gray stamp paper on the newly-uncovered August 9, 1849, folded letter falls into the proper period of use for the oval stamp. The paper is comparable to the Bluish Gray paper used for the subsequent typeset issues.
The use of the Charleston S.C. carrier stamps on inbound mail originating in other cities (Aiken S.C., in particular) has been well-known to specialists for years. In 1875 a South Carolina philatelist named William H. Faber interviewed two of the men who had served as carriers in Charleston and learned that stamps were carried or sent to other places and used to prepay the carrier fees on mail addressed to Charleston (the Faber interviews were reported by John N. Luff in the American Journal of Philately, March 1898, and by Elliott Perry in The Philatelist, June 1974). This August 9, 1849, letter is the earliest recorded inbound cover with one of the Charleston carrier stamps. However, in our opinion, the Bluish Gray stamp on this cover was probably applied after the letter reached Charleston’s carrier department. Based on patterns of stamp use in other carrier departments--for example, Philadelphia--we are convinced that certain carrier department stamps were sometimes applied by the carriers as receipts and as a means of recording how many letters they delivered and were paid for, rather than by the sender to prepay the carrier fee. As the photo shows, a piece of the stamp has been torn off, and the paper is skimmed in a triangular shape pointing toward the center, in the direction the paper was peeled. This damage might have been the result of a stamp collector trying to remove the stamp, but another possibility is that the carrier peeled off the “2 Cents” portion of the design. This might have been his way of “cancelling” the stamp once the 2c carrier fee and 5c postage was paid. Those who are skeptical of the this theory should observe that the street address--“Canonsboro, end of Bee St.”--is in handwriting that differs from the address and Graniteville postmark. A possible scenario is that the letter arrived at the Charleston post office and was given to the carrier department for delivery, based on standing instructions left by the addressee. The street address was added to the letter, and the carrier was instructed to collect 7c (5c postage plus 2c carrier fee). The carrier affixed the stamp as a receipt for money received, and he peeled off the bottom of the stamp (with denomination), which was otherwise left uncancelled. By using a stamp from his supply, the carrier could accurately report how much he received and was due for his services (the postage would be paid to the post office). Obviously, this theory is purely speculative, and the damage to the stamp might be pure philatelic vandalism. However, if a stamp collector intended to remove the stamp, why not finish the job? We believe the damage occurred in August 1849 at the hand of the Charleston carrier.