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Postal Charges of insured Edward VII
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Author:  Theo [ Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Postal Charges of insured Edward VII

Could anyone explain the postage on the attached cover, posted on 21st May 1904 from London to Cassel in Germany?
My explanation so far is:
Insurance fee for GBP 24 = 7 1/2 d for insured letters abroad.
Postage = 2 1/2 d. for a letter weighing 17 grams
Altogether 10d.
The cover is franked with a total of 1s 2 1/2d though. Has anyone got an idea why?

(483.79 KiB)

Author:  Mike Jackson [ Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 539

Theo, if the letter was over ½oz, another 2½d for postage, plus the 2d for registration, gives the correct total.

Both the insurance and the postage went in steps of 2½d, so I suppose it could have been 10d insurance (for £36) and 2½d postage (under ½oz).


Author:  Theo [ Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 541

Mike, thanks for your answer but the insurance fee for £24 was 7 1/2 d in 1904 (5d for the first £12 and 2 1/2 d for the next £12) and as far as I know postage cost 2 1/2 d per ounce and not per half ounce to UPU countries in 1904. The registration fee should have been included in the insurance fee. So I am still convinced that the cost for the cover should have been 10d.
I have been puzzled by this cover for a long time and would be glad if someone could explain what the extra 4 1/2 d were paid for.

Author:  jimusedcontrols [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 542

Hi Theo
are you sure that registration was included in the insurance fee? How about advice of delivery at 21/2d extra as well as 2d. registration?

Author:  asmodeus [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 543

"I have been puzzled by this cover for a long time and would be glad if someone could explain what the extra 4 1/2 d were paid for."

7 1/2 P insurance+ 2 P registration+ 2,5 P postage= 12 P. Rest 2 1/2 P for the next additional ounce?

Author:  Harvey [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 545

Theo is correct! This is borne out by an article in GBJournal Vol 21, pp.52-53. The only alternatives I can see for the extra charges are 1] Express fee - but there is no label on the cover or mss notation for this; 2] an error by the accepting postal clerk - an extremely rare occurance, but they do happen!


Author:  mozzerb [ Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 546

Yes, Theo is correct -- 5d for the first £12 registration included, 2½d for each subsequent £12 (up to a limit of £120 at this date, charges became 4d/2d and a £400 limit in 1906, from memory).

It's definitely not advice of delivery. There's absolutely no indication of such -- there would be a prominent 'AR' on the cover -- and anyway the 2½d stamp for the fee would have been on a separate form, not the cover.

It's not express either. Again, not a trace of an indication of this, and although I don't have my express service book handy, as I recall the fees went up in 3d steps not 1½d for this service?

I think it's not so much an extra 4½d as an extra 2d to explain. Of a total payment of 1s 2½d (14½d) 7½d was the charge for £24 insurance. If we assume a double rate (2½d per ½oz) -- quite likely for a cover that probably had a hefty enclosure -- then there is 2d left, which I think could be one of two things:

(1) An error by either the clerk, or perhaps more likely the sender's office junior sticking the stamps on late on a Saturday -- i.e. overlooking that the registration fee was included in the price of insurance.

(2) A 2d late fee. Again, I'm afraid I don't have a reference handy (although I can check when I get back home), but I suspect Great Portland Street was one of the offices in the London Head Districts where a 2d late fee applied to registered mail? If so, that's probably the most likely explanation even though the fee's not marked -- it often is, but not always.

Author:  Theo [ Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 547

First of all let me say that I am deeply impressed by the number of people commenting on my question. Thank you all very much for you suggestions.
I think that mozzerb is right in suggesting that neither Advice of Receipt - no AR-mark present - nor Express can be identified on the cover. If it was sent by Express we should either find an Express Label or a relevant postmark. So the question remains, if a Late Fee was added. I don't see any indications for that. Does anyone else?
My feeling is that the postal clerk simply made two mistakes. First of all he simply didn't account for the fact that the 2d Registration Fee was included in the Insurance Fee. I am currently working on an article about insured mail and can provide another example (this cover is unfortunately not in my collection) of the same fault. If you look at this cover (front and back) you will notice that here too the postal clerk did not count the two pence of the imprint on the envelope as part of the insurance fee.
This leaves one last question open - why did the postal clerk charge 5d for postage and not 2 1/2 d? To my knowledge in 1904 the rate to UPU countries was 2 1/2 d for the first ounce and not for the first half ounce. I don't have the exact date when the weight limit was raised but it should have happended sometime in the 1890s. Can anybody provide this date?
The weight of the cover when posted is clearly indicated in red handwriting as 17 grams. All insured covers had their weight added in handwriting by the postal clerk, I presume to make sure that nothing was taken out. 17 grams is certainly more than half ounce (one ounce equals 28.35 grams) but if the weight limit was one ounce, as I think it was, why the extra 2 1/2 d? Was this postal clerk half asleep when he handled this cover and made two mistakes at a time? What do you think????

(1.84 MiB)
(1.81 MiB)

Author:  Harvey [ Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 548

Small point arising from your last posting. The weight was not "...added in handwriting by the postal clerk." That addition was made at the Office of Exchange, ie the outward foreign mail office, the last office at which the letter was handled prior to its being sent abroad. The limit of insurance for this letter only was written as "xxfrancs" at the same time, using the UPU recognised amount in gold francs.

Author:  Mike Jackson [ Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 549

Michael Furfie's book on 20th century rates gives the weight unit as ½oz up to 1 Oct. 1907.

The only reference I have to the reg. fee being included in the insurance fee is Wellsted's article that Harvey mentioned. The cover Wellsted illustrated from the NPM appears to show this, but do you have an official source for this regulation? And the weight steps?

Do you have the Willcocks and Sussex auction catalogues from Cavendish? There were a few insured covers in them.

(In my previous message, my suggestion that the insurance could be 10d was rubbish! -- I had not read the cover properly!)


Author:  Harvey [ Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 550

I know it's a bit outside the period in question, but when I worked on a post office counter in Central London in 1957, this was one of the things which were impressed upon us - that the registration fee was to be counted as part of the insured fee!


Author:  mozzerb [ Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 551

Annoyingly, I don't have access to my books at the moment (away from home, and room internet connection down, so posting from elsewhere), but I'm confident about the following from memory.

Sources for registration being included in the insurance fee -- James Mackay's "Registered Mail of the British Isles", and come to think of it it's in the PO Guides of the period. I have 6-8 covers of this period and a fair few more of later periods (insured mail being one of my sub-collections of registration that I've got interested in and tried to do in some detail), and the fees work out that way nicely.

As Mike says, the postage rate is definitely 2½d per ½oz at this period (it then became 2½d for the first oz and 1½d for each subsequent oz, which is a gotcha that I've tripped over in the past). As I've grumbled about before, higher rates (especially second and third weight step) aren't uncommon, and ½oz isn't much weight (14g). Registered items with significant enclosures would often go well over that -- as these are overseas insured letters we're talking about here, that means valuable paper not coin or precious metal, likely notes or bonds.

Theo: that's a superb cover (two 1s green and red Jubilees!), but again I'm not sure that the rate should be put down as an error by the clerk (or sender, although that's less likely I guess, as the stamps aren't perfins). 'Clerk error' and 'late fee' seem to be the two fallback handwaving explanations for any odd rate, but that doesn't mean that they aren't the right answer sometimes -- and here I'd be much more inclined to go with the extra 2ds being late fees. Contemporary PO Guides have a page with a table of special late fees for registered mail posted in London offices -- the usual cutoff time was 5.30pm, but at branch and other main offices there was a 2d late fee for posting up to 6pm. (Registration late fees are another of my sub-collections; there were higher fees for later posting at a few central offices, but they don't apply here.) Examples of the 2d rate seem quite plentiful, especially on banking- and finance-related mail such as the two covers illustrated. Mail often has the fee marked -- bigger offices had special boxed late fee handstamps -- but by no means always. As they were posted from the main offices at Great Portland Street and Ludgate Circus -- i.e. neither small offices that would be more likely to get the rate wrong through lack of experience at dealing with such mail, nor one of the five or so key central offices that would use a handstamp as a matter of course, but offices of the right level of importance to have the fee available -- and are for a type of mail that would require extra time to deal with anyway, 2d late fee would fit nicely.

Where's the article for? GBJ?

Author:  Theo [ Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 552

The latest explanations of mozzerb plus Mike's hint on Michael Furfie's book seem convincing. I think we have got an explanation now.
The last remaining question that is still somehow open to me is how the Late Fee system worked for insured/registered covers. The only mention of such a Late Fee I have read so far was in an article by Austin Davis, recently published in the GBJ (May/June 2008). But this was about 4d. Late Fees in the 1860's and 70's. Could anyone provide further information about this special Registration Late Fee in one of the future GBJ's?
The article I am working on is due to be published in the Rundbriefe of Forschungsgemeinschaft Großbritannien in Germany. But if Mike is interested I could translate it into English and have it published in the GBJ as well.
Thanks very much to everybody for this very informative and helpful discussion. I am deeply impressed by the number of answers and explanations and can only congratulate the GBPS on this discussion board.
I will certainly come back with more questions, next time with a cover dating dating from 1816.

Author:  mozzerb [ Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 553


Theo: late fees on registered letters were higher than for non-registered -- often substantially so -- because of the extra paperwork and direct staff attention required at a time when the clerks were rushing to get the mail prepared for dispatch. There were in essence two separate late fee systems for registered letters -- one for London, and one for everywhere else. Presumably this was due to the high density in the capital of both population in general and businesses likely to send lots of registered letters and frequently cut it fine when doing so. For provincial offices, a 4d fee was introduced in the early 1860s, which is the one Austin Davis mentions, and gave an extra half-hour as I recall.

Additional stages that applied only to London offices came in from the late 1870s, first at the chief office in St Martins-le-Grand, then in the other big central offices in the main business district, and then in other branch offices in the capital. The fees could go up to 1s. For a rundown, I've attached a scan from the page in my 1908 Post Office Guide (circa p590) that gave the arrangements for posting registered letters in London. As you can see, the late posting arrangements were quite extensive, and would apply to insured letters as the British PO automatically treated them as registered.

Full details can be found in Parmenter's "London Late Fee and Too Late Mail 1840 to 1930" (registered mail is only a small part of that, obviously). It's a hardback, about 150pp, and only cost £10 from Vera Trinder. There are also a few notes in the introductory chapter of Moubray if you have that.

I did mean to pen an article looking at registration late fees for the GBJ, but have never got around to it. Maybe I will!

Author:  Robinr [ Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Transfer from previous board: original post 2125

Hi Theo,

I'm currently bidding for what looks like a similar cover to yours here, but with KE8 stamps not KEVII. If successful, I know it will send me off on a spree of research for all the notes, cachets, and scribbles on the cover - and I'll comb through this remarkable series of contributions, the like of which must have gladdened and encourage more than a few hearts back then!

How did you write the cover up? Assuming that you did. Did you come to a conclusion, or made the dichotomies clear and left it as a puzzle? If you did write it up, would you be prepared to show ashcan of the page(s)?

Thanks for whatever. With best wishes,

Robin R.

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