The Jubilee of Penny Postage
South Kensington Interesting Uses
Late Use To Canada

So many of the South Kensington envelopes were produced that stocks bought in anticipation of prices rising soon were sold off and they began to be used for 'ordinary' correspondence. As late as 2015 complete packets of 50, with wrapper band, were still available and being 'broken up' for individual sale. These envelopes sold for 1/- at the Museum and unused examples are generally selling today from 5 to 12. The value of One Shilling from 1890 is about 5.80 today.

From 1st July, 1915, the South Kensington envelope ceased to be valid for postal use, as were all other issues from Queen Victoria. See below for a surcharged cover, as being now "Obsolete"

Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News - 3rd July, 1915

A very late allowable cover was sent to the rural town of Vernon, B,C., Canada on 19th April, 1915. Apparently the contents were of some importance as the sender applied a wax seal and three additional KGV 1d stamps [SG 358] to pay for the 2d. Registration Fee and also additional compensation of 15, total of 20.

Of interest to the Postal Historian is that this cover was not cancelled along its journey, except by the RPO handler and the Vernon receiving mark. No entry into Canada or cross transit markings are seen. At the time of the mailing, CPR's trancontinental sevice left Toronto as Train 95 with through cars then being coupled onto Train 1, The Imperial Limited, at Winnipeg and continuing out to the Pacific Coast.

Christopher Anstead of the BNAPS RPO Study Group sent me this information about the RPO portion of the cover's travels.

The transcontinental stops at Sicamous near Vernon. Westbound CPR Train 1 arrives at Sicamous at 17:59. Mail bound for Vernon would have been sorted, bagged and unloaded at Sicamous. CPR train 806 leaves Sicamous the next day at 10:15 calling at Vernon at 12:30 on its way to Penticton arriving at 18:30.
There are many "C. & V. R.P.O. / B.C." postmarks used on the Canadian Pacific Railway [CPR] running between Calgary and Vancouver. This was a major RPO charged with sorting high volumes of mail. There are many distinct postmarks characterised by two "ornaments" on opposing side of the postmark (approximately 25 different ornaments).
The postmark on your letter is most likely catalogued as WT-91.132 in Catalogue of Canadian Railway Cancellations edited by Ross Gray (BNAPS, 2015) It has been recorded as used between 1904-06-07 and 1923-07-23.

As the Canadian Pacific mainline was still building out to Vancouver, a 46-mile shortline was chartered to run out from Sicamous. It would run south to Okanagan Landing. Then with various stops along the way, sternwheelers continued south from Okanagan Landing onto Kelowna and Penticton. Just 5 miles northeast of the Okanagan Landing and on the Railway was the town of Vernon, the destination for this cover.

The name given to the shortline was The Shuswap and Okanagan Railway.

Surveying and clearing began at Sicamous in April 1890 with Enderby being headquarters for construction. On April 14, 1890 laying of rails began at Sicamous and grading was completed to what would become Armstrong on May, 12, 1890. June 1891 brought right of way clearing just outside of city Vernon. Although construction was still underway on the south end of the line trains began operating over north end of S&O in July 1891. Rails reached Enderby on July 2. On July 10, 1891 the S&O entered an agreement where after completion the railway would be leased to the CPR for 25 years. CPR had to operate and supply rolling stock for the S&O during this period. CPR would pay 40% of gross earnings to S&O shareholders. Excitement in Vernon grew when in August 1891 rails reached Armstrong, 15 miles of Vernon. Finally on September 12, 1891 at 4pm the rails of the S&O reached Vernon. The S&O was inspected for use on October 1, 1891. In 1892 CPR built a shipyard at Okanagan landing.
This paragraph is from "HISTORY OF THE RAILWAYS OF THE OKANAGAN" by Kylie Mason

Eventually the CNR [Canadian National Railway] built down from Kamloops into the Okanagan region through Lumby Junction and south to Kelowna. This was accomplished by agreements for CNR usage of portions of the leased CPR tracks of the S&O Railway. Car floats were used for both railways to transfer further south to Penticton.

At Penticton both lines had 'connections' with The Kettle Valley Railway ... otherwise known as   "McCulloch's Wonder"

Trains To The Okanagan by Jim Hope
Goodbye to the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway by Eminence Grise
BNAPS RPO Study Group

On 30th August, 1915, about two months after the South Kensington envelope was declared "Obsolete" and thus not valid for postage, this cover was posted from WORTHAM with the sender adding a 1/2d King George stamp [SG 351].

The postal clerk handling this made note of the situation by marking under the SK Indicia "obsolete" and attaching a 2d Postage Due stamp [SG D-4] for the recipient to pay the proper postage and surcharge fee. In addition the 2d 'Charge' handstamp was applied, making this one of the earliest 'Obsolete' uses of the SK envelope.

In reality, should not the surcharge have been but 1d. as the 1/2d. stamp properly paid half the postage? The 1897 "Diamond Jubilee" rate of 1d. covering the 1st 4 oz. still applied on Inland Mail until November 1915.




12th May, 2017