April 7, 1845: New York City
Mr. J. Smith Hornans writes to the Postmaster General (PMG), Cave Johnson, urging him to suggest the creation of federal postage stamps to the Post Office Department. He points out the difficulties that businessmen and merchants encounter due to the early closing hour of post offices. Mr. Hornans expresses his opinion that federal stamps would be convenient and also increase the amount of material sent through the mail.
July 10, 1845: New York City
Mr. George Smith writes to the PMG stating that postage stamps would be a great convenience for businessmen in large cities. A response is overwritten on Mr. Smith's letter which acknowledges the value of his statement, but points out that an act of Congress would be required to initiate the project.
March 20, 1847: New York City
The firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch and Edson (RWH & E) submit rough designs for the proposed five- and ten-cent stamps. The stamps would be sold to the Post Office Department at the rate of 25 cents per thousand.
March 20, 1847: New York City
RWH & E submit the five- and ten-cent stamp designs to J. W. Brown, the Second Assistant PMG, for his approval. They inform him that they have followed his suggestion and used the head of Benjamin Franklin in place of the head of Jackson, which had originally been requested by the PMG. If the PMG still preferred Jackson it could be used instead. The firm was making steel dies of the designs so that the stamps could be produced immediately in the event that the designs were approved.
March 29, 1847: New York City
RWH & E express to the Second Assistant PMG their pleasure at having their stamp designs chosen. They notify him that Mr. Edson would meet with him the following Thursday to discuss the terms of the agreement. Confirmation of the production of steel dies is given.
March 31, 1847: New York City
RWH & E write to the Second Assistant PMG informing him that the proposal which had been made on March 20 had been revised. Now, 25 cents would be charged for every thousand stamps using two colors and 20 cents for every thousand stamps using one color. It is noted on the letter that this bid was accepted.
April 8, 1847: Washington, DC
Cave Johnson writes to Robert H. Morris, Postmaster of New York City, about matters concerning engravings, paper and a contract. (National Archives Collection; see reference Clarence W. Brazer, “U.S. 1874 Stamp Contract”, The Essay Proof Journal, Vol. 9, No. 3, Whole No. 35, July 1952)
May 25, 1847: New York City
RWH & E write to J. Marron, Third Assistant PMG, to account for the delay in signing the contract. They had signed the contract even though a certain clause had not been inserted into the text. The contract was enclosed with their letter and they requested to have a copy of the contract sent back to them once it had been signed by the PMG.
June 26, 1847: New York City
RWH & E write to the PMG informing him that the stamps which had been ordered were ready for delivery. They would wait for his instructions before doing anything with the stamps. There were 200,000 ten-cent stamps and 600,000 five-cent stamps.
July 19, 1847: Portland, Maine
N. L. Woodbury, Postmaster of Portland, writes to the PMG that plenty of postage stamps are appearing on letters in his city. However, he had not ordered or received any stamps himself and did not believe that the stamps could have been provided by anyone there. It was his opinion that the stamps were genuine, although he stated that he had no way of verifying this. He inquired whether or not he ought to be canceling the stamps and marking the letters "paid".
August 3, 1847: Savannah, Georgia
George Schley, Postmaster of Savannah, writes to the Third Assistant PMG that if he had been aware of the responsibilities that would be relegated to him as a depository (without profit) he would not have asked to have the position. He discusses bookkeeping and the amount of stamps he expects to sell.
August 6, 1847: New Haven, Connecticut
E. A. Mitchell, Postmaster of New Haven, writes to the Third Assistant PMG requesting that he send additional stamps to New Haven.
August 9, 1847: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
R. A. Bausman, Assistant Postmaster of Pittsburgh, writes to the Third Assistant PMG asking for instructions about bookkeeping methods that ought to be used in regards to the stamps that were being sold.
August 26, 1847: Hillsdale, Columbia Co., New York
J. Wells White, Postmaster of Hillsdale, writes to the PMG to tell him that he had contacted the Postmaster in New York with a request for stamps. The Postmaster had replied that Mr. White would have to pay him in advance for the stamps which Mr. White was willing to do. However, before he did so, he wanted to know for certain when he would receive his percentage of the cost. Also, he stated that several people had attempted to deposit sums of money at his post office which would later be drawn out at other post offices by other Postmasters. He had not seen any material giving him the authorization to perform this service and had been refusing to do it.
October 20, 1847: Philadelphia
Thomas E. Sparhawk writes to the PMG with the suggestion that a three-cent stamp for the prepayment of newspapers should be issued.
October 22, 1847: Philadelphia
Wilson Dunton writes to the PMG suggesting the immediate creation of newspaper stamps.
October 26, 1847: Baltimore
James Buchanan, Postmaster of Baltimore, writes to the PMG about methods of canceling stamps. It had come to his attention that it was very easy to alter a cancelled stamp and make it appear new. He suggests that a sharp instrument would be better suited to cancel stamps than ink.
November 16, 1847: Williamsport, Pennsylvania
H. Frank Hatch of Rochester, New York, writes to the PMG that he purchased stamps at home and used them wherever he went. However, the Postmaster in Williamsport did not sell stamps and if letters were deposited at his post office with stamps he tore the stamps off, destroyed them and marked the letter postage due. Mr. Hatch understands the confusion caused by some post offices using stamps and others not, but hopes that the situation could be remedied with the correct course of action.
November 18, 1847: Evansville, Vanderburgh Co., Indiana
B. F. Dupuy, Postmaster of Evansville, writes to the Third Assistant PMG informing him that the stamps which had been sent had been received. He had also received stamps from the Postmaster of Louisville. He was making the announcement that his post office had been selected for the sale and distribution of stamps in that area.
November 30, 1847: New York City
Unknown author to the PMG.
December 2, 1847: New York City
Robert H. Morris, Postmaster of New York City, forwards a letter written on November 30 to the PMG. The sender of this letter was not named. Both letters address the convenience of three-cent newspaper stamps. Mr. Morris brings instances of postal clerks taking money intended to pay for postage from customers and keeping it for their own private use to the attention of the PMG.
December 18, 1847: Zanesville, Ohio
Horace Hope, Postmaster of Zanesville, writes to the Third Assistant PMG including a receipt that had been requested. He states that the carriage which had been carrying a shipment of stamps had been upset and all of the stamps had gotten wet. He asks to return the damaged stamps and inquires if something is provided to deface the stamps.
January 4, 1848: Williamsport, Pennsylvania
J. J. Ayers, Postmaster of Williamsport, writes to the Third Assistant PMG telling him the problems he has with stamps, namely forgery and reuse.
March 18, 1848: New York City
RWH & E write to the PMG to inform him that they were printing the stamps that he had ordered. They make the suggestion that stamps are cancelled with some type of instrument which would destroy the stamps by cutting them. Designs for a three-cent stamp had been enclosed with the letter.
March 20, 1848: New York City
M. Monson writes to the Third Assistant PMG placing an order for five- and ten-cent stamps.
August 15, 1848: Auburn, New York
G. W. Clinton, U. S. Attorney, writes to the PMG asking him to verify the authenticity of a five-cent stamp. Clinton had doubts about it but others did not share his opinion. He believes that the stamp may be a real stamp, but that it had been chemically altered in order to remove the ink that had been applied when the stamp was cancelled.
August 19, 1848: New York City
RWH & E write to the Third Assistant PMG confirming the hunch of G. W. Clinton in letter .26 that the five-cent stamp in question had indeed been chemically altered due to attempts to remove canceling ink.
August 27, 1848: Buffalo, New York
G. W. Clinton writes to the Third Assistant PMG that he is returning the letter from RWH & E that had been forwarded to him and he was sending back the stamp to the Postmaster of Rochester. He states that it was regretful that Congress had not made the effort to implement laws against fraud.
October 30, 1848: Middlebury, Vermont
Edward D. Barber, Postmaster of Middlebury, writes to John Collamer, PMG, informing him that he is returning the stamps as he had been requested to do. A postscript states that Mr. Barber's successor had decided to keep the stamps and that a receipt would be given to the Auditor.
March 20, 1849: New York City
Robert H. Morris, Postmaster of New York City, writes to the Third Assistant PMG reporting that a package which had been sent to the Treasurer's office had arrived with none of the seals broken.
March 20, 1849: New York City
Robert Morris writes to the PMG reporting the same as in letter .30.
March 24, 1849: New York City
Robert Morris writes to the Third Assistant PMG reporting that the plates sent to the Treasurer's Office had arrived in good condition and they were turned over to RWH & E.
April 11, 1849: New York City
RWH & E write to the PMG informing him that the stamps which were ordered on March 19 were ready for shipment. They ask what type of packaging ought to be used in sending the stamps.
July 29, 1850: Baltimore
Finch writes to the PMG with the suggestion that the government should prepare two-cent stamps to prepay the postage for newspapers. He states that newspapers are not reaching their destinations because they are dropped into receiving boxes at post offices while the post offices are not open to take the payment for postage.
July 30, 1850: Gardiner, Maine
L. H. Green writes to N. K. Hall, PMG, telling him that although Postmasters are required to use printers' ink to cancel stamps, he has noticed many using a type of red ink which is easily rubbed off. It is his opinion that the practice of using the red ink should be stopped quickly.
December 9, 1850: New York City
RWH & E write to the PMG informing him that they had received his order for five-cent stamps with the head of Benjamin Franklin in brown. The stamps would be prepared immediately and he would be notified a few days in advance of their shipment.
December 10, 1850: New York City
William V. Brady, Postmaster, writes to the PMG reporting that he had gone to the Treasurer's Office with Mr. Edson of RWH & E. The five-cent stamp had been delivered to RWH & E and the ten-cent stamp had been returned to the Assistant Treasurer under Brady's seal.
January 17, 1851: New York City
RWH & E write to the PMG enclosing steel die proofs in anticipation of the Post Office Department's need for a three-cent stamp. Since the die was already engraved, stamps could be produced immediately if the design was chosen. If a different design was preferred, RWH & E would be willing to create a new die. They suggest that the three-cent stamp be printed in blue ink. If there would ultimately be one- and two-cent stamps, those ought to be printed using the designs and colors of the current five- and ten-cent stamps. The use of the five- and ten-cent stamps would then be discontinued.
January 24, 1851: New York City
RWH & E write to the PMG informing him that the order of five-cent stamps had been packaged according to his directions and was ready to be delivered.
January 25, 1851: New York City
William V. Brady writes to the PMG stating that the stamps had been given to Cyrus Powers for delivery. The plate was sealed with the seals of RWH & E and William V. Brady and deposited with the Assistant Treasurer of the United States.
March 5, 1851: Philadelphia
James Snyder writes to the Third Assistant PMG asking to know the amount that RWH & E was paid for each sheet of stamps they printed under their agreement with the Post Office Department.
March 10, 1851: New York City
RW & E write to the PMG stating that they do not wish to have their design for the three-cent stamp considered unless they are guaranteed to be compensated for the cost of producing the die in the event that their design is not chosen. They point out that they have been producing five- and ten-cent stamps for the Post Office Department, which have been very satisfactory and have been making very little profit from doing so. They state that they have not been able to cover the cost of the steel dies used for the five- and ten-cent stamps from the profits earned from their production. RWH & E would not be willing to furnish stamps in the future at rates any lower than what they currently received.
April 8, 1851: New York City
RWH & E write to the Third Assistant PMG explaining that their decision not to enter their design for consideration had been due to a misunderstanding and they would like to rescind their decision and apply for the three-cent stamp contract.
November 15, 1851: New York City
RWH & E write to the PMG and suggest that since the dies and plates from the five- and ten-cent stamps would no longer be of any use, they should be destroyed.
The PMG's instructions are written across letter .43 a, directing that the dies and plates of the five- and ten-cent stamps should be destroyed.
December 12, 1851: New York City
William V. Brady writes to the Third Assistant PMG submitting evidence that the dies and plates of the five- and ten-cent stamps had been destroyed.
December 12, 1851: New York City
RWH & E write that the five- and ten-cent stamp dies and plates were demolished according to the PMG's instructions. Their destruction was witnessed and documented by John Moore, William V. Brady and George W. Jenkins.
A paper wrapper which was used to cover the correspondence is titled 1847 Postage Stamps. It is noted on the wrapper that the collection consists of original correspondence from Rawdon, Wright, Hatch and Edson and various postal workers and that it ought to be preserved intact.