Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Break Time

You might have noticed that we are not doing so much on the blog, email, the website or facebook the last week.  And, just so you all know.  It's because the farmers are taking a break from farming for a short while.  But, not to worry, we'll be figuring our seed orders next week, attending a farming conference and making our year plan.  Not to mention farm tasks like putting electrical in a couple of buildings.

But, until then, Rob intends to work with things like this:

Yep, as strange as it might sound.  Rob is a postal historian (on top of whatever else he might do) and he enjoys old envelopes and learning about where they come from, what the postal rates were and other fun stuff.  And, about once a year, he allows himself to post something on it.

The envelope shown above (usually referred to as a 'cover') is a cool example of a postal agreement that might seem a bit unfair to us now.  But, let me give you a brief summary.

In the 1840's, England and the United States made an agreement (a treaty) to exchange mail at the rate of 24 cents (1 shilling) per one half ounce of weight.  This cover was posted in the 1860's, with that same rate intact.  There are three 24 cent stamps on the envelope, so you would expect that the envelope with contents must have weighed between 1 ounce and 1.5 ounces.  Which it likely did.  But, the envelope was treated as unpaid and 4 shillings were collected from the person who received the envelope in Falkingham.

The treaty did not allow for odd rates except for a single rate.  So, it was 24 cents for the first 1/2 oz.  24 cents for the second 1/2 oz.  Then, it was 48 cents for each ounce after that, with fractions (no matter how small) rounded upwards.

So, here is the kicker.  The treaty also stipulated that underpaid mail should be treated as UNPAID.  That means the sender spent 72 cents that did nothing toward sending this letter.  The recipient spent 4 shillings (96 cents) for the honor of receiving this mail - so the cost to the participants was $1.68.

Now, before you get too upset that the postal agencies were ripping people off, consider this:
It was common practice for people to send mail unpaid for collection of the due amount from the recipient.  It was also common for recipients to refuse delivery.  Thus, the service of delivery was rendered for FREE in those cases because no one would pay for it.

Either way.  Next time you are unhappy about paying 44 cents for a single envelope to go through our current day mail system, think about this envelope.  And, if you want a very brief editorial on this - think about how inexpensive it is to use a very complex and expensive system of delivery.  'Nuff said.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your input! We appreciate hearing what you have to say.