Sale 1238 — Civil War Special Mail Routes
Sale Date — Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Category — Precursor Express Mail
EXTREMELY FINE. A RARE PRECURSOR EXPRESS MAIL COVER SENT BY ADAMS EXPRESS FROM NEW YORK TO TENNESSEE, WHICH ARRIVED IN CHATTANOOGA ON THE DAY BEFORE THE SECESSION REFERENDUM. AN OUTSTANDING EXPRESS USE AND ONE OF THE FEW GENUINE PRIVATE EXPRESS COVERS FROM THE CLEAGE CORRESPONDENCE.
Although the express companies that carried mail through the lines after June 1, 1861, did not begin advertising this service until June 15 (American Letter Express) and June 22 (Adams and Whitesides), Adams had been carrying mail for months prior to June 1 and definitely transported mail across the lines soon after the May 27 suspension order took effect. Curiously, there is no documentation or advertisements of the express mail during this period from January to May 1861.
Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 37, census no. S-PRE-5). Ex Kimmel and Boshwit. With 1976 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE. A REMARKABLE PRECURSER PRIVATE EXPRESS COVER FROM ENGLAND TO RICHMOND VIRGINIA, CARRIED BY ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY AND POSTED AS A DROP LETTER.
The letter, written by John R. Gilliat in Liverpool, is an articulate and insightful commentary on the outbreak of the American Civil War, the hope for neutral arbitration by European powers and the potential effects of a Northern blockade on the tobacco and cotton markets. It begins by expressing concern that the disruption of mail routes might prevent correspondence between the parties. As it happened, by the time the letter reached New York on May 27, the railroad connections between Washington D.C. and Richmond had been terminated. Adams Express carried the letter to Richmond via Louisville and Knoxville, and placed it in the post office as a drop letter. There are remnants of a paste-up envelope adhering to the back of the letter, which was almost certainly a 3c U.S. entire required to meet the obligation to pay U.S. postage on express mail. This is one of two recorded examples of an Adams cover with the Confederate drop rate.
Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 32, census no. S-PRE-9). With 2003 P.F. certificate
VERY FINE PRECURSOR PRIVATE EXPRESS COVER WITH A RARE COMBINATION OF ADAMS EXPRESS DATESTAMPS FROM THE NEW ORLEANS AND KNOXVILLE OFFICES.
This cover to Philadelphia was datestamped at the Adams New Orleans office on April 16 and at the Knoxville office on April 19. At this date it almost certainly made the entire trip to Philadelphia by rail, first to western Tennessee, then east to Knoxville on the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad. From Knoxville, it was carried on connecting lines to Philadelphia via Lynchburg and Washington. The Knoxville datestamp and the presence of intermediate transit markings on other covers indicate that Adams' distributing offices sorted and bagged mail along the way.
Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 30, census no. N-PRE-8). Ex Dr. Morris. With 2003 P.F. certificate
EXTREMELY FINE. THE ONLY RECORDED EXAMPLE OF AN EXPRESS COVER WITH THE HARNDEN'S SAVANNAH OVAL HANDSTAMP.
Adams Express Company took over Harnden's Express prior to the war, but the Harnden name was retained in Georgia, because of its reputation and good will. When the threat of war jeopardized Adams's ownership of offices in seceded states, its directors sold its southern operation to Henry B. Plant on June 8, 1861. Plant reorganized the old Adams offices under a new firm, the Southern Express Company. Many believed that Adams still retained ownership beneath the facade of a sale, which was intended to protect their property from the Confederate government. In fact, in 1870 a lawsuit was brought against Adams by stockholders who felt entitled to the assets held by the Southern Express Company. The plaintiffs' claim was rejected, but there continued to be well-founded suspicion that the Southern Express Company was a dummy corporation set up for Adams's continued benefit.
The Harnden name is rarely seen on covers carried in seceded states. The cover offered here bears the only recorded example of Harnden's Savannah office handstamp. It is one of two recorded covers mailed by the same sender to the same addressee on the same day. Both have the sender's route instructions, directing the letter to the care of Adams Express. This cover was routed through Savannah, while the other was routed through Charleston S.C., where the "Adams Express Company Charleston S.C. Apr. 25" oval was applied. At Savannah, the oval with the Harnden name was applied, also on April 25. The sender probably sent duplicate letters by two different routes to ensure delivery during the first two weeks of war.
Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 28, census no. N-PRE-12). Ex White, Shenfield, Simon and Walske.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A RARE EXAMPLE OF THE ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY MEMPHIS OFFICE DATESTAMP ON A VERY EARLY PRECURSOR EXPRESS COVER TO NEW ORLEANS.
Shortly after the Confederacy was formed on February 4, 1861, the private freight express companies began carrying mail (the earliest recorded express cover is dated February 7). Soon after June 1, 1861, newspapers published the first advertisements for through-the-lines express service after the Federal government suspended the mails to seceded states. However, we have never seen an ad or bulletin from the January-May 1861 period that advertises express service for letters. The existence of express covers carried outside the mails (for at least part of their journey) is the only evidence of this business. This is one of the earliest Civil War express covers, and it was carried by Adams from Memphis to New Orleans on February 18, 1861. Louisiana joined the Confederacy on February 4, but Tennessee did not secede from the Union until June. We presume this cover originated in or near Memphis and was handed directly to the Adams office in that city. [See also lots 377-378 in this sale].
Illustrated in Special Routes book (p. 27, census no. C-PRE-1). Ex Knapp, Richey, Emerson, Shenfield, Antrim and Boshwit. With 1974 P.F. certificate