Sale 988 — The Steven C. Walske Collection of Civil War Special Routes
Sale Date — Thursday, 27 May, 2010
Category — Mail Carried by Diplomatic Pouch
AN IMPORTANT POSTAL HISTORY ARTIFACT. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF THE MOBILE POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONAL ON A COVER ORIGINATING IN EUROPE. THIS WAS SENT FROM BRUSSELS TO WASHINGTON D.C., THEN CARRIED BY DIPLOMATIC POUCH ON A UNITED STATES NAVY VESSEL TO THE BELGIAN CONSUL AT MOBILE, WHO MAILED IT TO GENERAL ELISHA Y. FAIR IN MONTGOMERY.
This cover originated in Brussels, Belgium, on July 12, 1861. It was sent by Mrs. Wyatt Fair to her husband, Gen. Elisha Y. Fair, who was former U.S. Minister to Belgium and left Brussels in late June 1861 to join the Southern cause. Mrs. Fair was unable to return to her native land until June 1862, due to the Federal blockade of Southern ports. This cover and the New Orleans provisional cover in lot 304 surfaced in 1999 and provide heretofore unreported examples of mail brought into the Confederacy through diplomatic channels. If this was sent by regular transatlantic steamer, then it was carried on the Cunarder Arabia, departing Queenstown July 14, 1861, arriving Boston July 25.
THIS REMARKABLE COVER IS UNIQUE IN SEVERAL RESPECTS -- MOST NOTABLY AS A COMBINATION OF THE UNITED STATES 3-CENT 1851 ISSUE AND NEW ORLEANS POSTMASTER'S PROVISIONAL.
This unusual cover was found with the Mobile cover offered in lot 303 and undoubtedly carried a letter from Mrs. Wyatt Fair in Brussels. If sent on a standard trans-Atlantic steamship, then this was carried by the Cunarder Europa, departing Liverpool Jul. 27, 1861, arriving Boston Aug. 9.
The handwriting does not match the Mobile cover, but the use of a U35 entire indicates that the envelope had to have been addressed by someone in the northeast who had access to the new-issue 3c embossed envelope. That person probably enclosed Mrs. Fair's letter for delivery to Gen. Elisha Y. Fair and arranged for it to be carried south to New Orleans via diplomatic pouch. Based on the docketing, it originated in Brussels on July 23, 1861. It was routed through New Orleans, almost certainly through the Belgian consul, J. Deynoodt, or his vice-consul, J. Noblom. The unusual franking suggests that the sender used the new 3c entire and searched for a 3c stamp -- finding an old imperforate 1851 Issue -- in expectation that the letter would travel via the U.S. post office. The Belgian consul mailed the letter in New Orleans and affixed the two pairs of provisional stamps for the double 10c rate to Montgomery.