VERY FINE AND EXTREMELY RARE EXAMPLE OF TRANSATLANTIC MAIL CARRIED FROM ENGLAND TO NEW ORLEANS VIA TAMPICO AND BROWNSVILLE DURING THE PERIOD WHEN COSTA'S EXPRESS WAS IN OPERATION.
On October 15, 1861, Antonio Costa announced a post office-endorsed foreign-mail private express service out of New Orleans. In his circular, he stated, "The undersigned, now suffering in common with others, the inconvenience of blockade and non-intercourse with foreign countries; has, by the advice and approval of J. L. Riddell, Post Master at New Orleans, taken all needful measures to establish at his own expense, a monthly mail between New Orleans and the Mexican port of Tampico, to connect with the regular British Mail steamers touching at that port." J. L. Riddell also added a postscript stating that, "Letters intended for this Mail, may be enclosed along with the money required per tariff above, and the outer envelope addressed to Costa's Foreign Mail, care of Postmaster, New Orleans." The tariff indicated was $1.00 to Europe, including C.S.A. postage.
The cover offered here was very likely carried by Costa's Express for some portion of the route. The unusually lengthy delay between the August 16, 1861, origin date in London and February 24, 1862, postmark date at Brownsville is explained by the special circumstances affecting transit. The Cunarder Asia, referenced in the letter, departed Queenstown on August 18 and arrived in New York on August 29. Although the sender probably intended for the New York forwarding agent to send it by Adam's Express, the express routes had been closed down only a few days earlier on August 26. Facing this new circumstance, the forwarder probably decided that the best course of action was to send the letter to Havana, where it could be forwarded to Tampico. We can reasonably speculate that the New York forwarder held this letter (and another known with identical routing and dates--Sale 988, lot 368) until he became aware of Costa's Express, which started advertising in New Orleans on October 15 (news would have reached New York later). There appears to have been another delay incurred somewhere en route to Brownsville. The trip from New York to Tampico via Havana took about 14 days, and from Tampico to Brownsville another 16 days. The Brownsville February 24 postmark date indicates a departure from Tampico on February 8. The letter could have been held by the forwarder at Tampico during the Siege of Matamoros (October-December 1861), then given to Costa to safely carry to Brownsville, where it entered the C.S.A. mails. The receipt docketing date of March 14 coincides with the arrival date on a cover carried by Costa's Express, illustrated on page 166 of the Special Routes book.
VERY FINE. A RARE COVER CARRIED ACROSS THE BORDER FROM MEXICO TO EAGLE PASS, WHERE IT ENTERED THE CONFEDERATE MAILS TO SAN ANTONIO.
Brach-Shonfeld & Co. was a prominent commercial firm involved in the cross-border trade between Mexico and the Confederate States. The addressee, Dr. W. G. Kingsbury, was a director on the board of the San Antonio Mutual Aid Society.
With 2019 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE DOUBLE-RATE CONFEDERATE GENERAL ISSUE FRANKING ON A COVER CARRIED ACROSS THE RIO GRANDE AND PUT INTO THE MAILS AT EAGLE PASS DURING THE FEDERAL OCCUPATION OF BROWNSVILLE.
Brownsville was occupied by U.S. forces from November 7, 1863, to July 20, 1864. During this time, mail between Mexico and the C.S.A. was carried across the border further up the Rio Grande between Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass.
Johann August Forcke, a German immigrant, arrived in Texas in 1845 and was a practicing pharmacist in New Braunfels for 50 years.
Ex Brooks and Walske. With 1984 P.F. certificate
EXTREMELY FINE. A SUPERB AND EXTREMELY RARE BLOCKADE-RUN COVER FROM MATAMOROS, MEXICO, TO WASHINGTON, TEXAS, VIA PORT LAVACA AND CONCRETE, TEXAS. THIS IS ONE OF ONLY TWO RECORDED INCOMING BLOCKADE COVERS VIA PORT LAVACA.
Port Lavaca in Matagorda Bay was first blockaded in 1862-63 and then occupied by the U.S. from December 1863 until June 1864. Its remote location meant that blockade runners only connected with Mexico, and very few covers are known. The Walske census lists only two, the other example stampless and postmarked at Victoria, Texas. Mail via Port Lavaca entered the Confederate mails farther inland in Texas, at Victoria or in the case of this cover, Concrete. Surviving covers were sent under cover to a forwarder in Texas, so they carry no ship markings or 2c ship fee assessments (Special Routes p. 139). A cover from the same correspondence as this, with similar markings (but the stamp is defective), was in the Castillejos collection ("Camina", Siegel Sale 757, lot 976). The ex-Castillejos cover sailed on the Alice from Havana and was routed through Matamoras, Galveston and Houston, before going on to Washington, Texas.
Special Routes census no. BI-PL-2 (listed as July 1 in error). Ex Grant and Wishnietsky. With 2014 P.F. certificate