Monday, January 08, 2007

"Out of the Mails" exhibit

The National Postal Museum's Out of the Mails exhibit (which opened last month in Washington, D.C.) explores an interesting and little known aspect of U.S. postal history.

As "Surveyor of the Post Offices and Post Roads on the Continent of North America", Hugh Finlay set out in 1773 on a journey through the 13 colonies and Canada in order to assess the overall state of the mail system in order to improve the efficiency of the mails.

What Finlay discovered was a surprising number of people sending their letters “out of the mails” with private carriers. Doing so avoided the payment of postage in the British-run system which some colonists saw as a version of taxation without consent.

By sending letters outside official mail channels, either by private courier or having friends carry them, Americans vexed the British, avoided paying high postage rates but also financially endangered the struggling new mail system.

Shown above is a 1973 first day cover for Scott #1478 which depicts a colonial postrider.

To learn more, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM