Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "WELLS / S. 123" (and "WELLS / N. 122")

The “WELLS / S. 123” handstamp is known used from 1785 to 1787. The example below is unfortunately undated. The “S.” in the handstamp is for Somerset, to differentiate it from Wells in Norfolk (known as Wells-next-the Sea from 1955).

According to the BCC, Wells in Norfolk had two “WELLS / N. 122” handstamps of different sizes in use from 1786 to 1790.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "TAUNTON / 143"


The “TAUNTON / 143” handstamp is known in use from1785 to 1787.


The postal charge of 6d above is not correct for 143 miles to London as the rate from August 1784 was 5d for up to 150 miles and only 6d if over 150 miles. It is possible that the charge was made at 6d based on a corrected mileage from Taunton to London. A route from Taunton to Crewkerne and then up the Western Post Road is about 157 miles, while going via Bath and the Bristol Post Road is about 163 miles. In 1802 Taunton was issued with a “TAUNTON / 161” handstamp.

Perhaps there was a “typo” when the handstamp was made, misreading “163” as “143” ??

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "118 SHIPTON / MALLET"

The “118 SHIPTON / MALLET” handstamp is known used from 1790 to 1796. It is thought that it was issued earlier than 1790; there is only one handstamp known in use at Shepton Mallet prior to this, and that was known used in 1772, so there is plenty of scope for the mileage mark to be in use earlier than 1790.

Currently the item below is the latest known usage of the “118 SHIPTON / MALLET”, used in November 1796.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "135 CREWK / ERN", "FROME / 107"

The “135 CREWK / ERN” handstamp is known in use in 1784-1785. The example below is early, from 27th September 1784.

The “FROME / 107” mileage mark is known used from 1786 to 1788. The mileage “107” is in noticeably small lettering.

The Free Front above is franked "Boyle" which is the signature of Edmund Boyle, 7th Earl of Cork and 7th Earl of Orrery (21 November 1742 – 30 May 1798).

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "140 BRIDGE / WATER"

The “140 BRIDGE / WATER” handstamp is known in use from 1785-1786. A two-line “BRIDGE / WATER” handstamp is known used from 1783 to 1786, possibly in concurrent usage with the mileage mark though it may have been used before and brought back into use after the Bridgwater mileage mark.

I do not currently have examples of the “115 CASTLE / CAREY”, “144 CHARD” or “141 ILMIN / STER” marks, so cannot illustrate them here – please do send me an image if you have a copy of any of these marks (or let me know if you have a copy you would like to dispose of).

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "113 BATH"

In 1784 the Post Office introduced handstamps with the mileage to London on them, to aid post office clerks in determining the postal charges. These handstamps had a limited life as the mileage to London changed as the postal routes altered and after about five years the Post Office stopped issuing them.

By the end of the 18th century the Postmaster General had instructed John Cary, a map-maker, to prepare a survey of all the principal roads in the country under the supervision of the Superintendent of Mail Coaches. This was used in the issue of the second series of mileage stamps from 1801.

Cat No Type Handstamp Comments Size (mm) Colour Dates Rarity
SO 64
27
113 BATH single line, taller “3”
33x6
Black
1784
F
65
26
BATH / 110 figures 6½ mm, round zero
26x16
Black
1784
F
66
26
BATH / 110 figures 6½ mm, oval zero
26x16
Black
1785-86
F
68
26
BATH / 110 figures 5mm high
25x14
Black
1786-87
F
217
27
140 BRIDGE / WATER
42x12
Black
1785-86
F
317
27
115 CASTLE / CAREY
42x13
Black
1784-85
G
339
27
144 CHARD single line
40x5
Black
1786
F
391
27
135 CREWK / ERN
40x13
Black
1784-85
E
479
26
FROME / 107
38x15
Black
1786-88
E-F
550
27
141 ILMIN / STER
34x13
Black
1787-98
D
668
27
118 SHIPTON / MALLET issued earlier
45x12
Black
1790-96
E
697
27
136 SOMER / TON
39x12
Black
1786-90
F
760
26
TAUNTON / 143
38x14
Black
1785-87
E-F
911
26
WELLS. / S. 123
24x13
Black
1785-87
E
1054
27
126 YEOVIL single line
40x6
Black
1789-92
D

As can be seen from the table above, extracted from the Somerset County Catalogue, while the majority of the marks (9) are of the form 'mileage town', the remainder (6) are two line marks of the form 'town / mileage'.

The original mileage to London for Bath, 113, was very soon amended to 110 (by 1801 it had changed again to 109 miles to London).

Despite what it currently says on the Postal Museum website, the 1784 mileage marks were not introduced because the postal rates of 1784 charged based on the total distance that the mail travelled – that did not happen until the introduction of the 1796 rates on 5th January 1797.  In 1784 postal charges were still based on the postal charge to London plus the postal charge onwards from London as two separate charges.  The postal rate change in January 1797, along with the survey of principal roads by John Cary, may well have been instrumental in causing the Post Office to re-introduce mileage marks in 1801.

The first mark above, “113 BATH” is currently the earliest known usage of an English mileage mark, on 14th September 1784 (again correcting the information currently on the Postal Museum website).


I have already posted on the "BATH / 110" handstamps here.