Mail Between Shropshire and the USA 1849 to 1874


Purpose – The exhibit will show postal markings and rates on mail between the county of Shropshire and the USA by named British or American steamships during the dates of the title. Important items and/or comments noted in red.

Background – Samuel Cunard obtained a 7-year contract with the British Admiralty to carry mails between Liverpool and Boston from 1 July 1840. Letters to Boston were prepaid 1/- per ½oz with the addressee paying the US inland rate at the time. A similar arrangement existed for letters from the US to the UK. With sailings to New York added in January 1848 Cunard had a monopoly; their success provoking the US Government to contract with the Ocean Steam Navigation Company operating from New York to Bremerhaven with a call off Cowes, Isle of Wight, in each direction, to drop off and take up UK mail. The British refused to accept mail from these ships, even as Ship Letters, because the British Post Office Order of 9 June 1847 made them subject to the packet rate of 1/- regardless of whether the letter was prepaid or not.

This caused retaliatory action by the US Congress at what they saw as British discrimination on US mail so they too charged all incoming mail paid or unpaid. This is the retaliatory rate period (51 total westbound & eastbound sailings) found on UK/ US mail between July and December 1848. No letters to or from Shropshire have been found during the pre-retaliatory or retaliatory rate periods. Sanity prevailed and a treaty was agreed on 3 January 1849. While it was being ratified the rates previous to the dispute were used (the restored rate period, only 7 total sailings).

Scope – The exhibit will begin with a 'precursor', an 1848 restored rate cover from Shifnal to Colchester, Connecticut, showing the restored rates (ie: those prior to the disagreement). It will continue using Shropshire related covers to illustrate the accountancy strategies used during the subsequent 1849 Anglo-US Postal Treaty, followed by the 1868 to 1870 New Anglo-US Convention and the 1870 Additional Anglo-US Convention, both of which used single franking meaning no accountancy, each country keeping the money from the franking. The postal markings, rates & ships carrying covers related to each Treaty I Convention will be described. Full size postmarks on the reverse of covers will be shown where appropriate.

Dates of issue taken from the Post Office Proof Impression Books, for example from Volume 9, Page 141, will be abbreviated to PIB 9/141.


Frame 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Anglo-US Postal Treaty, 15 Feb 1849 – Accountancy Set 1
  3. Accountancy Set 2
  4. Accountancy Set 3
  5. Accountancy Set 3
  6. Accountancy Set 4
  7. Accountancy Set 4
  8. Accountancy Set 5
  9. Accountancy Set 6
  10. Accountancy Set 7
  11. Accountancy Set 8
  12. Accountancy Set 8
  13. Anglo-US Postal Convention, 1 Jan 1868
  14. Anglo-US Postal Convention, 1 Jan 1870
  15. Anglo-US Postal Convention, 1 Jan 1870
  16. Anglo-US Postal Convention, 1 Jan 1870