An Unusual Re-directed Cover

Re-direction of a letter was not a 'free' service in the early days of mail delivery. It was treated as a separate mailing altogether! This letter has not only that distinction and thus double postage of a re-direction, but other pecularities as well.
First, the two stamps are from different plates, HA on the right is Plate 5, while LD is Plate 6. The issue date of Plate 6 is 2 July, 1857, so this is a very early copy. Possibly Mr. Davies (the first addressee) did not have stamps at hand, and went to the local G.P.O. to make the purchase. He re-addressed both the front, AND the back!
Next, the letter was between 1/2 ounce and 1 ounce, as the normal postage of 1d. paid for the first half-ounce. It must have been important and expected by the speed with which it was re-directed.

Tracing the movement of the letter is fairly easy, as the red backstamp indicates that it left London West Branch on 30 July, 1857 and arrived in Liverpool in time for the next morning's delivery. The Liverpool date stamp on the back, is most likely from its arrival, as a duplex was used for its second departure. Mr. Hazard, Esq. appears to have received it the next day, 1 Aug, 1857.
When Mr. Davies re-posted the letter on the 31st, the added stamp was cancelled by a type B9 Liverpool Spoon obliterator 1. The 'spoons' were a trial at creating a duplex cancelling device. Until this time, the cancelling clerk had to obliterate the stamp with the 'Barred Numeral' assigned to his office, then strike the back of the letter with the date stamp. Two operations on every letter! With a duplex, both markings were applied at one time.
Another oddity involves the right stamp. While not obvious at first, a hair or other fibre has become deposited onto the sheet of paper before or as it was being pressed. Had it been on the printing plate, it would have left an inked line, but as the mark is devoid of color, it was on the paper. Under a magnifying glass,one can see the depth of the impression made in the paper.

As to the mailer of the cover, all one may discern is the possibility of a last name beginning with "E", for that is the initial in the wax impression.
Could the final recipient, Mr. J. P. Hazard, Esq., possibly be the first addressee's solicitor, for Mr. Davies' name did not deserve the 'Esq.' salutation?

1. The Spoon Experiment 1853-1858, R.M. Willcocks & W.A. Sedgewick


 

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07/17/2003