foreign-main

This section of The Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues is dedicated to mail sent to or coming from foreign countries before 1894. Prior to the first postal agreements with foreign governments in the mid-nineteenth century, letters going overseas could be prepaid only for their transit within the United States. Upon reaching the foreign destination, postage due was collected based on the postal laws of the arriving country or those through which the letters traveled. In 1847, the first of many bi-lateral postal agreements that the United States negotiated with European governments went into effect. Now letters could be fully paid to destination according to the agreement between the two countries.

Until 1875, when a number of countries agreed to a General Postal Union with common postal regulations for the movement of the mail between each of the member countries, United States mail to foreign destinations was governed by many separate and different postal agreements. As a result, numerous different rates and postal routes were available to send or to receive mail in the United States from other countries. For example, in 1860 it was possible to send a letter to India by seven different routes, with fees ranging from 5¢ to 72¢ for a single letter of 1/2 oz. For mail sent to most countries, multiple choices of rates and routing were available. Of course, these choices were not all ones where the mail was paid to its destination. Nevertheless, this wide range of possible choices suggests a very complex system for handling foreign mails.

Since July 1963, when The Chronicle first was published in a slick-paper format that allowed for high quality illustrations, the journal has had a section in each issue devoted to the foreign mails. For almost thirty years these articles have methodically addressed many aspects of the foreign mails in which research has been completed, allowing us to share this information with the Chronicle readers. The special markings associated with foreign mail, the rates of postage, steamships that carried the mails across the oceans, and often the markings and handling of the mail in foreign countries has been addressed in articles by many of the leading postal history students. A typical example of a letter to a foreign destination with the explanation that appeared in a recent Chronicle foreign mail section article will demonstrate the type of information available from this section.

27¢ General Postal Union rate via Brindisi prepaid from Boston 4 August 1875 to Ahmednuggur, India. 22¢ or 110 Centimes U.S. credit to Britain.
 

24¢ rate prepaid from Boston 6 January 1857 to Strood, Kent, England. 19¢ U.S. credit to Britain.
 

33¢ U.S.-British Treaty rate prepaid from Boston 23 July 1862 to England then via Plymouth to Port Elizabeth, Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope. 28¢ U.S. credit to Britain.
 

5¢ open mail rate by British packet prepaid from Boston 28 January 1851 to Neuwied on the Rhine, Prussia. Sent from England to Prussian under the 1846 Anglo-Prussian Convention. 1 shilling 4d British debit to Prussia. 16¾ silbergroschen due.
 

10¢ up to ⅓ ounce “phantom” rate overpaid from Buffalo, West Virginia, 1 August 1870 to Paris. 6¢ U.S. credit to Britain for the 3d rate from Britain to France.
 

20¢ ¼ to ½ ounce “phantom” rate prepaid from Cape Elizabeth Depot, Maine, 10 June 1870 to Paris. 16¢ U.S. credit to Britain for double the 4d rate from Britain to France.
 

Double 45¢ U.S.-British Treaty rate via England prepaid from Cleveland, Ohio, 20 May 1863 to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 48¢ U.S. credit to Britain.
 

33¢ U.S.-British Treaty rate via Southampton prepaid from Jersey City, New Jersey, 29 May 1861 to Bangkok, Siam. 12¢ U.S. credit to Britain.
 

20¢ prepaid for the ⅓ to ½ ounce or ½ to ⅔ ounce “phantom” rate from Montrose, Pennsylvania, 30 June 1870 to Paris. 12¢ U.S. credit to Britain for double the 3d rate from Britain to France
 

6½ sgr (15¢) U.S.-Bremen Convention rate prepaid from Fredeburg, Prussia, 20 October 1858 to Evansville, Indiana. 4½ silbergroschen (10¢) international rate.
 

30¢ U.S.-Prussian Convention rate unpaid from Washington, D.C.,17 December 1861 to Berlin, forwarded to Posen. 23¢ U.S. debit to Prussia. 13 silbergroschen due.
 

10¢ over 300 miles rate to New York prepaid from Holidaysburgh, Pennsylvania, 13 May 1851 to Künzelsau, Württemberg, under the U.S.-Bremen Convention. 24¢ U.S. debit to Bremen. 49 kreuzer debit from Hannover to Thurn & Taxis, representing 40 kreuzer sea and 9 kreuzer Hannover transit. 57 kreuzer due.
 

22¢ U.S.-Bremen Convention rate unpaid from Lansing, Iowa, April 1858 to Ahn Grevemacher, Luxembourg. 14¢ U.S. debit to Bremen. 6¾ silbergroschen international rate; 3 silbergroschen German internal. 9¾ silbergroschen due.
 

30¢ rate prepaid from San Francisco 5 May 1856 via Panama to Arolsen, Waldeck. 7¢ U.S. credit to Prussia.
 

58¢ double U.S.-British Treaty rate prepaid from San Francisco 1 June 1861 to Huntly, Scotland. 38¢ U.S. credit to Britain.
 

2 shilling 4d over ½ ounce U.S.-British Treaty rate via Southampton prepaid to U.S. shore from Sydney, New South Wales, 22 January 1857 to Petersburg, Virginia. First European and Australian Line voyage from Australia. 1 shilling 4d credit from New South Wales to Britain.
 

21¢ rate by American packet prepaid from Philadelphia 21 November 1851 to Nürnberg, Bavaria. Sent under the 1843 Anglo-French Convention. Entered France at Calais, where ÉTATS-UNIS PAQ. AM. / B.A. CALAIS applied. Würzburg, Bavaria, foreign mail office applied WÜRZBURG/AUSLAGE and rated 1 gulden 30 kreuzer (90 kreuzer) due, double 45 kreuzer per ½ loth rate.
 

21¢ prepaid for open mail rate by American packet from New York 11 June 1853 to Paris; remailed to Berlin (Carpenter to Toppan correspondence). Sent from England to France under 1843 Anglo-French Convention. Sent from France to Prussia under the 1847 Franco-Prussian Convention. 16 decimes due in Paris. 12¾ silbergroschen due in Berlin.
 

5¢ prepaid for open mail rate by British packet from Philadelphia 6 June 1853 to Paris; remailed 21 June 1853 to Berlin (Carpenter to Toppan correspondence). Sent from England to France under 1843 Anglo-French Convention. Sent from France to Prussia under the 1847 Franco-Prussian Convention. 13 decimes due in Paris. 9½ silbergroschen due in Berlin.
 

13 decime Anglo-French Convention rate prepaid to U.S. frontier from Paris 16 June 1853 to Newport, Massachusetts. 5¢ open mail rate by British packet due.
 

5¢ open mail rate by British packet prepaid from New Orleans 8 January 1852 to Frankfurt am Main. Sent from England to Prussian under the 1846 Anglo-Prussian Convention. Thurn und Taxis applied AUS AMERIKA/UEBER PREUSSEN in Frankfurt am Main. 1 shilling 6d British debit to Prussia. 62 kreuzer or 1 gulden 2 kreuzer due.
 

12¢ up to ¼ ounce “phantom” rate overpaid from New York 2 April 1870 to Rouen, France. 8¢ U.S. credit to Britain for the 4d rate from Britain to France.
 

15¢ U.S.-Bremen Convention rate prepaid from New York 4 August 1860 to Posen, Prussia. 5¢ registration fee paid in cash. 12¢ U.S. credit to Bremen.
 

$1.08 ½ to ¾ ounce U.S.-British Treaty rate prepaid via Marseilles from New York 26 May 1863 to Shanghai. 98¢ U.S. credit to Britain.
 

20¢ double PAID TO ENGLAND U.S.-British Treaty rate from New York 29 July 1868 to Cadiz, Spain. Carried from England to Spain under the 1858 Anglo-Spanish
 

5¢ under 300 miles rate prepaid from New York 31 January 1846 via Boston and England to Paris. Sent from England to France under 1843 Anglo-French Convention. 15 decimes due in Paris.


The Postal Conventions
The following link contains multiple PDF documents containing the many Postal Conventions the United States of America entered into with the United Kingdom, Bremen, Prussia, Hamburg, and France from 1847 through 1874.

The Postal Conventions

In October of 1874, a treaty for the formation of a General Postal Union (GPU) was signed in Bern, Switzerland. Known as the First Bern Postal Convention, it called for the adoption of uniform postage rates and regulations for international correspondence. The GPU became effective on July 1, 1875. The GPU was later renamed the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1879.


Helpful Links

Post Office in Paradise Hawaiian Foreign Mail Postal History
The Ships List Fleets & Descriptions, Passenger Lists, Resources etc.

 

Top