London to Boston: 1807. Envelope or Cover. This two-page stampless folded letter measures 14.5” x 9”. It is datelined “London 7th Jany. 1807 with a manuscript annotation, “per Enterprise via New York” in the lower left corner. There is “36” rate marking along with a circular postmark in red that reads “New-York Mar. 9” and a matching red “Ship” handstamp. During opening, a small piece was cut from the back to remove the wax seal. Of special interest is a clear strike of an oval handstamp on the reverse that reads “Daniel’s Life Preserver in case of Shipwreck, Bathing & Wapping, A National Concern, Established 1806.”. Very good. Item #009322
It would appear that the Life Preserver hand stamp was an advertisement as there is no postal reason for it to have been applied. Although there no records tying Jacob Cram to the Daniel’s firm, Parker & Poor were general merchants in Boston and major importers of British goods. Although the letter's contents do not pertain to life preservers, it is likely that the hand stamp was applied as an advertisement for the relativelt new product. Following his grammar school, Francis Columbine Daniel was apprenticed in 1779 to a surgeon and apothecary in the East London Thames River community of Wapping, and nine years later he opened his own office nearby. At the time, the area was a hub of naval and maritime activity and having witnessed many drownings, Daniel determined to find a way to save the lives of mariners and passengers who fell into the Thames. To that end, he designed an “air jacket” that could be carried in a coat pocket and quickly inflated by means of a silver tube, after which it would keep a wearer’s head arms and upper body above the water surface. As part of his testing process, Daniels conducted startling public demonstrations. In 1805, several men wearing early versions of his jacket jumped off the London Bridge and floated downstream while smoking pipes or playing musical instruments to the astonishment of a gathering crowd. The following year, at a London regatta, two men wearing his devices appeared to walk on the water while carrying a giant sack full of ships’ biscuits and a third repeatedly fired a horse pistol into the air. Later that year, Daniel began marketing his life preserver after it had received a gold medal from the Royal Humane Society. Exceptionally scarce. As of 2019, there are no other examples of this handstamp for sale in the philatelic or ephemera trade. There are no records of other examples having been sold at auction, and none are known to be held by institutions.