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Cover of the Month
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28 January 2008




The cover above was offered on Ebay (item number 190191797900) by the seller ukgb a well known dealer based in Richmond, London.
The cover was seen for sale finshing on the 28 January 2008 with a starting price of 75.

It has a clean appearance with a mixed colour franking and a Liverpool packet postmark. The stamps are cancelled with the Liverpool 466 killer postmarks which likely gives an instant appeal to a buyer.
What do you think about this cover?
Does it appeal rightly or is it a trap for the unwary buyer?


The item description given by the seller, was as follows:
SG 94 4d Vermilion PL 14 (E-F) & SG 46 2d Blue PL 14 (R-L). Used together on 1877 ship letter to Liverpool, cancelled with Liverpool '466' numerals with superb "Paid Liverpool Br. Packet 2-AP-77" below in red. Clean and attractive, Cat. 145+

Let us make a brief analysis of the cover.

The item is from Liverpool, as the stamp have the 466 cancellation and the cover is addressed to Liverpool, (as shown by the address)
So this is a local cover

This presents the following problems ....
  1. Why the 6d rate ? and
  2. Why the application of the Packet mark ?
The rate within Europe at this time was 2d and the inland rate 1d, (both per oz).
If this was a local usage then the item weighed between 2 and 3oz, not impossible but from the appearence of the cover unlikly.
If on the other hand this had come in from Europe, then a 5d rate would be expected for between and 1oz. The extra penny could normally be assigned to the Captains gratuity, but the mark indicates it went by British Packet and not a private ship.

More details were required and an email request was sent to the dealer. The following was the reply recieved ...

      hi xxxx, looks like th letter was posted from Berlin without stamps hence the Packet mark, most unusal !
         regards Arthur - ukgb


So the letter came from Berlin ?

So as we already know that the rate was 2d per oz (5d per oz) we now have to look at other possible solutions ...

If the rate had been paid in Berlin then the local stamps would have been used and cancelled there - this is not the case
If the letter was sent unpaid, (which was allowed at this time), then the local office of posting would have applied a mark showing the place of posting. on arrival in the UK the letter would be liable to a 3d fine per oz making the rates (with the fine), 5d for oz or 11d for up to 1oz. Another point to consider is that only the fine rate was impossed, (not uncommon at this time), and thus the rates would be 3d for oz or 6d for up to 1oz - the later fitting what we see on the cover.

If this is the case, then this would be use of adhesive stamps to pay "Postage Due", but without any marking for the point of dispatch, this is very difficult to prove

Given that the stamps were applied and cancelled in Liverpool, this writter suspects that although possibly correct, it is more probable that the "Packet Mark" was applied either in error or by favour or, (and without seeing the item in the flesh this is difficult to be certain off), the packet mark is a forgery applied to enhance the item.

If this is an enhanced cover, the price asked at this time would appear to be on the high side, however, if it could be established that this was "Postage Due" usage then this is a rare cover.



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