Stampless “War Rate” letter from a land owner in Prince William County, Virginia offering to sell property to a colleague in Genesee County, New York
Stampless “War Rate” letter from a land owner in Prince William County, Virginia offering to sell property to a colleague in Genesee County, New York

Stampless “War Rate” letter from a land owner in Prince William County, Virginia offering to sell property to a colleague in Genesee County, New York

Dumfries, Virginia to Geneva, New York: 1815. Unbound. This three-page stampless letter measures 12.5” x 7.5”. It is dated “Elm Wood 19th Sept 1815” and bears a manuscript “Dumfr 19 Sept” postmark applied at Dumfries, Virginia along with a “37½” postal rate mark, the cost to send a letter over 500 miles during the War of 1812 (150% of the normal 25-cent charge). The letter is in nice shape. A transcript will be provided. Very good. Item #009255

In this letter, Fitzhugh--a Virginia landowner--provides a counteroffer to Fellows regarding the sale of land in New York “cheaper than to almose any other person from the consideration that my payments would be always sure which is a very great consideration to a person living at the distance that I do.” The property likely belonged to his wife, Jane Champe Helm, who records reveal was born in Virginia but came from a New York family.

Fitzhugh’s Virginia property, Elm Wood (later known as Fairview or Herndon Farm), was located about 18 miles northwest of Dumfries, part of what today is the Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area near the northwest corner of Marine Corps Base Quantico. At the time, Dumfries (the oldest continuously chartered town in Virginia and once the second most important port in Colonial America and a rival of New York, Philadelphia and Boston) was the county seat of Prince William County.

A very nice stampless letter from the early days of Prince William County, Virginia. 37½ cent “war rate” covers are scarce and although the American Stampless Cover Catalog notes that manuscript-postmarked Dumfries mail from 1802-1821 exists, it is held by institutions. As of 2019, searches of past sales at the major philatelic auction houses identify only three 37½ cent “war rate” covers and no manuscript Dumfries postmarks. None of either are listed at Frajola’s PhilaMercury database.

Price: $400.00

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