VERY FINE. A SPECTACULAR 1869 AND BANK NOTE MIXED-ISSUE USE DEMONSTRATING THE COMPLEXITIES OF FOREIGN-MAIL RATES DURING THE 1869-70 PERIOD.
According to the PRA 1978 Register article on the Lyman correspondence, this cover was franked for the 4c British Open Mail rate, but the foreign mail clerk in New York rejected the prepayment. It evidently cleared New York on Dec. 15 (1870) and arrived in England after the route to India via Marseilles was terminated due to the Franco-Prussian War. It was sent via Ostende (Belgium), Coeln (Germany) and Brindisi, but the surcharge for this route was not charged in India, thus they applied the 8a-8p due marking for the old via Marseilles route (30c less 4c because of the "Paid Only to England" marking). The Via Brindisi route was in use for less than nine months.
Benjamin Smith Lyman was a mining engineer for the Department of Public Works in India. The small Lyman correspondence is a challenge to postal historians, each cover presenting a peculiar franking and complex array of markings. Elliott Coulter always considered this cover the "pick of the litter" of the Lyman group.
Ex Coulter. With 2014 P.F. certificate