Liverpool to Richmond via the Black Ball Line: 1830-1831. Envelope or Cover.
These stampless folded letters both measure 16” x 10” unfolded. The 1830 letter discusses the market for American tobacco in Liverpool, and the 1831 letter discusses the market for other products, specifically butter, oats, flour and cotton. One letter is in nice shape; the other has several splits along mailing folds.
The 1830 letter, dated 1 March, was privately carried to the Black Ball ship Manchester (as annotated) and departed Liverpool the same day. It bears a New York “Ship” handstamp and a receiving postmark dated April 7th. A manuscript rate marking of 20½ cents (18½ cents plus a 2 cents captain’s fee) indicates the postage due upon delivery. Its first page discusses the state of the Liverpool tobacco market, “You have James Brown & Son Monthy Tobo. Circular by which you still notice that the Tobo sales for last month was but limited to only 2/8 hhs -Virga stems . . . lower than I at one time anticipated. I am sorry that I have not been able to sell any of Jno Stewarts . . . something may cast up that may bring this Tobo to a good sale yet.“ The second page is a two-year summary of sales of “Tobacco in Liverpool” with prices for varying grades of James River Lear, Stemmes, Georgia & Carolina Leaf, Kentucky Leaf, Rappahannock Leaf, and Maryland Scrubs.
The 1831 letter, dated 14 May, was sent via the Black Ball ship Pacific and departed Liverpool the 17th. It bears a circular New York receiving “Ship” postmark dated 14 June. It also bears a manuscript 20½ rate mark. The contents discuss the effect of more rapid international mail service upon the English marketplace. “American produce is loosing money at present the short of it is that when any Article pays a proffit the communication is now so quick between this Country & America & other countrys that the markets get glutted in a few months. . .. Cotton has fell at New Orleans to 36 cents.” It also references the turmoil in England brought on by the Reform Act of 1831. “This country has been and still is in a very agited state respecting the Reform Bill the general elections for the New Parliament is going on very favorable for the King & his ministers & with less Bitterness that expected there will be it is supposed 150 of a Majority for reform in the New Parliament which meets next month.”. Good to Very Good. Item #009363 A nice pair of packet mail letters with an important summary of tobacco export information and insight about market changes brought on by faster communications via packet ships.
The transatlantic Black Ball Line was founded in 1817 by a group of New York Quaker merchants and initially consisted of four packet ships including the Pacific, all running between Liverpool, England and New York City. It took its name from its flag, a black ball on a red background. It made two scheduled sailings per month and by doing so was able to drastically reduce costs. With infamously strict crew discipline and improvements in ship constructions, Black Ballers dramatically reduced average eastward crossings to only 23 days and westward voyages to 40. See Pullin’s North Atlantic Packets, pp 193-194.
A nice pair of packet mail letters with an important summary of tobacco export information and insight about market changes brought on by faster communications via packet ships.