Iowa: 1846-1860.

1847-1
(C-0024) February 17, 1847 Signed & Postmarked Letter – Abram O. Blanding, Philadelphia, PA.
(C-0017) Circa late 1840’s – Letter was hand stamped in Dubuque, IA on September 27, was charged 5 cents in postage, and addressed to Mr. Loring G. Cleaveland in South Dansville, Steuben County, New York  Dubuque was established as a United States postal delivery site, known then as Dubuque Mines, in 1833. Being Iowa’s oldest city also meant that Dubuque hosted the first post office in Iowa as well. In 1837, the city of Dubuque was officially charted, but It wasn’t until 1847 (one year after Iowa became a state) that the postal system began using postage stamps on envelopes.
(C-0017)
(C-0025) October 30, 1849 – An official government letter from Jonas Wescoatt, Clerk of the District Court of Monroe County to Josiah H. Bonney, Iowa Secretary of State.
(C-0242) Stampless letter postmarked April 11, (1850) in Burlington, Iowa with 10-cents hand-stamped “X” for postage, addressed to Mr. W. T. Webbe, 2 Park Place, New York City.
(C-0237) Stamp-less Cover/Letter postmarked and dated December 10, 1852. Here’s another letter in our collection addressed Gilman Folsom in Iowa City. While it’s rare for letters to be “stamp-less” as late as 1852 (the first postage stamps were used in 1847), it was still permissible for postmasters to accept payment and simply handstamp the cost of the letter on the envelope. What’s even more unusual, however, is that the postmaster in Oregon, IL charged the sender only 3-cents. On April 1, 1855, postage rates dropped, with a ½ ounce letter traveling up to 3,000 miles going from 5 cents to 3 cents. This letter, written nearly 2.5 years earlier was given a low 3-cent rate. Maybe because the distance was only 140 miles? Quite the deal!
Stamp-less Cover – circa early 1850’s. In January 2021, this stamp-less cover came up on Ebay. (Sold for $40) A personal letter to G. Folsom, Esq. Atty at Law, Iowa City, Iowa. The sender, former senator George Jones, used the “Free” franking option given to government workers, so no postage was needed. Solders were given this same privilege during wartime.
(C-0251) 1852 Stamp-less Letter from A.C. Harding in Monmouth, IL to (Judge) Charles Mason in Burlington, Iowa – Postmarked January 8, 1852 with 3-cents postage. While the postage rates didn’t decrease (5-cents to 3 cents) until 1855, obviously this clearly dated letter of January 7, 1852, was granted a lower 3-cent fare rather than the standard 5-cent rate. Quite a deal for Mr. Harding!
(C-0251)
(C-0250) Circa 1851-1855 – This stamp-less letter is marked PAID 10-cents, which would be the standard rate (1845-1855) for a letter traveling more than 300 miles. The second consideration is that Volcano, California (part of Gold Rush) opened a post office in 1851 and closed it in 1857. In 1855, rates dropped to 3-cents for any mail traveling less than 3,000 miles, so this cover must be dated circa 1851-1855. Postmarked on September 14 in Volcano, California and addressed to G.D. Woodin in Iowa City.
Volcano, CA is named for its setting in a bowl-shaped valley which early miners thought was caused by a volcano. Early morning fog rising from the valley floor only reinforced that belief. The area was first known designated by Colonel Stevenson’s men, who mined Soldiers Gulch in 1849. In 1851 a post office was established and by April 1852 there were 300 houses. By 1853 the flats and gulches swarmed with men, and there were 11 stores, six hotels, three bakeries, and three saloons. Hydraulic mining operations, begun in 1855, brought thousands of fortune seekers to form a town of 17 hotels, a library, a theater, and courts of quick justice. Volcano almost became the county seat in 1854 and again in 1857, but the newspaper closed in 1857 and afterwards, the town began to decline. Although small, Volcano is a town of many “firsts”:
1854 First theater group in California
1854 First debating society in California
1854 First circulating library in California
1855 First private schools in California
1855 First private law school in California
1856 First legal hanging in Amador County
(C-0253) U.S. Nesbitt Envelope #U1  – Series of 1853-55 3¢ Washington.  Postmarked December 22, 1853 in Burlington The Thirty-Second Congress, on Aug. 31, 1852, authorized the issue of stamped envelopes in the United States. In February 1853, the Scientific American states that “G. F. Nesbitt has shown to the Postmaster-General an embossed stamp for prepaid envelopes which has been accepted, and the manufacture will at once proceed.” The first stamped envelopes of the Post Office (white U1 & buff U2) finally appeared July 7, 1853.
(C-0026) Circa 1855 – U.S. Nesbitt Envelope Buff  #U2  – Series of 1853-55 3¢ Washington.  Postmarked December 8 in Iowa City The Thirty-Second Congress, on Aug. 31, 1852, authorized the issue of stamped envelopes in the United States. In February 1853, the Scientific American states that “G. F. Nesbitt has shown to the Postmaster-General an embossed stamp for prepaid envelopes which has been accepted, and the manufacture will at once proceed.” The first stamped envelopes of the Post Office (white U1 & buff U2) finally appeared July 7, 1853.
(C-0027) 1855 – Stamp-less Postal Cover stamped PAID 3 (cents) addressed  to Dwight C. Dewey, M.D., New York Mills, Oneida Co, NY. Postmarked in Iowa City on September 29 (1855).
(C-0027) While it’s rare for letters to be “stamp-less” as late as 1855 (the first postage stamps were used in 1847), it was still permissible for postmasters to accept payment and simply handstamp the cost of the letter on the envelope. On April 1, 1855, postage rates dropped dramatically, with a ½ ounce letter traveling up to 3,000 miles for only 3 cents. This letter to Dr. Dewey obviously fits that description.
(C-0240) 1857 Stamp-less Cover from Winnenden, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and written in Kurrentschrift/German. The letter is addressed to Rev. Josias Ritter, Iowa City, Johnson Co, Iowa, N Amerika and is dated December 20th 1857.
(C-0028) Circa 1856-1858. U.S. #26  Series of 1857-61 3¢ Washington Type III  Earliest Known Use: September 14, 1857 This decorative postal cover is addressed to William F. Johnston, Esq. in Iowa City, Iowa, hand-postmarked in Blue Earth City Township in Faribault County, Minnesota. 
(C-0028)
(C-0245) U.S. #26  Series of 1857-61 3¢ Washington Type III  Earliest Known Use: September 14, 1857 This decorative postal cover is addressed to Mr. J.E. Organ in Rolla (Phelps Co), Missouri, Postmarked in Iowa City on September 19, 1858.
(C-0029) U.S. #26  Series of 1857-61 3¢ Washington Type III  – Earliest Known Use: September 14, 1857 This postal cover, postmarked November 21, 1859 (from “Mother” Catherine Paxson Darlington) in West Chester, PA., is addressed to Stephen P. Darlington, Iowa City, Iowa. The latter “arrived November 24, 1859” and was “answered November 27.”
(C-0037) This rare stamp-less cover has been stamped PAID, sent from the Normal School (State University of Iowa in Iowa City) and is addressed to Alonzo Brown, Esq. Supt. of Common Schools in Garnavillo (Clayton County) Iowa. Our cover includes the attached “Doc” dated February 8, 1859 – a recruitment letter for the Spring and Fall Sessions (1859) in Iowa City.
(C-0037)
(C-0213) U.S. #11A Series of 1851-57 3¢ Washington Type II Earliest Known Use: October 6, 1851 Postmarked in Chillicothe, Ohio (Ross County) on August 11, 1860.
(C-0213)

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