Smithsonian National Postal MuseumTitle: The Pichs CollectionSan Carlos Institute
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Smithsonian National Postal Museum The Pichs Collection, Exploring Cuba's History Through Postage Stamps
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Postal History
Aviation History

International Mail (6)

Similar to the preceding cover posted at the British postal agency at Havana, this cover was posted at the British postal agency at Santiago de Cuba on January 5, 1847. In this case, however, the letter is addressed to Bordeaux, France.

It was carried to Southampton, England, by a Royal Mail Steam Packet Company vessel, and arrived at London on February 8. In accordance with the British-French Postal Convention of April 3, 1843, amended December 1, 1845, the British exchange clerk was to indicate what Article of the Convention each letter came under, in order that the French exchange clerk would be able to calculate the correct amount of postage due. The British clerk stamped it, “Colonies/ &c Art. 13.”

Tome I, p12: Havana to Bordeaux, France. 5 January 1847.

Article 13 of the Convention indicated the postage rate was 3 shillings 4 pence per ounce of weight. In French currency, this works out to be 4 francs. However, the French did not weigh their letters in ounces, but in grams. A single weight letter in France weighed no more than 7 1/2 grams. Thirty grams were considered to be equal to one British ounce, for Convention purposes. Therefore, there were four 7 1/2 gram letters in one ounce. The French exchange clerk found that this letter weighed between 7 1/2 and 15 grams, double weight, and marked it due “20,” which means 2 Francs were payable by the addressee.

After processing this mail, London then placed the letter in a sealed mail bag for the crossing of the English Channel to Boulogne, where the bag was opened and was processed by the French exchange clerk. The letter was then dispatched to Bordeaux, where it was received on February 12, 1847.

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