Two-page folded letter with printed circular sent via the Steamer Columbia from Liverpool to New York via Boston
Two-page folded letter with printed circular sent via the Steamer Columbia from Liverpool to New York via Boston
Two-page folded letter with printed circular sent via the Steamer Columbia from Liverpool to New York via Boston

Two-page folded letter with printed circular sent via the Steamer Columbia from Liverpool to New York via Boston

Liverpool: George Holt & Co., 1841. Unbound. This two-page folded letter and circular measures 15.5”” x 9.5” unfolded. It is addressed to A. Richards, Esq., New York and dated 4 June 1841. The cover has a manuscript annotation that reads, “Via Boston / Steamer Columbia.” There is a “Paid at / Liverpool / 1841 Ju 3” handstamp with a faded “1” indicating that the single packet rate of 1 shilling postage to the United States had been prepaid. A manuscript “20” was added after arrival indicating the total postage cost for a letter sent inland from Boston for a distance of between 150 and 400 miles (18.5 cents) plus a private ship receipt fee (1 cent) and a pamphlet/circular charge (.5 cent). A red, circular Boston postmark with indistinct date is was applied to the cover before it was dispatched to New York. The letter and markings in nice shape. Very good. Item #008983

A George Holt circular, used as the base document for the letter, provides prices for various types of cotton (Upland, Orleans, Alabama, Sea Island, etc.) as well as the number of recently arrived vessels and size of their cargo.

The letter bemoans the poor state of the market, which is clearly “in favor of the buyers.” More significantly, the letter expresses concern for “the Steamer Britannia . . . past due for 3 or 4 days,” “All hope for the safety of the Steamer President must now be abandoned – the leaving dates from Antiqua to the 8 May – When the Steamer had been at Sea 58 days . . . . The London underwriters proposed to pay the loss . . .”

The S.S. President was the largest passenger ship of her time and one of the most luxurious as well. She was last seen laboring under heavy seas near Georges Bank. All 136 passengers and crew were lost. The Columbia (one of the first four ships of Cunard’s initial fleet of wooden paddlers) would set the transatlantic crossing record two weeks after this letter was written and become famous as the fastest ship in the world. Two years later it became the Cunard Line’s first shipwreck when it crashed into a rock known as “Devils Limb” near Halifax, Nova Scotia during a heavy fog. All passengers and crew were rescued.

A nice example of a transatlantic letter with an unusual rate combination, carried by one of the first Cunard Line steamships.

Price: $300.00