Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Reading commercials

Commercials and advertisments are invading and sometimes lying, but they might be a very few times artistic performances or useful documents to potential clients.

Example when I read again before archiving the September 2008 issue of Timbres magazine, page 18, I discover a Spink auction house ad to find new salers. They reproduced a letter dated April 1840 "To All Postmasters" of Scotland presenting them the new means of postage, to be introduced on 6 May 1840.

The text described these new means like this: "stamped Covers and Envelopes" and "adhesive Labels", that is the stationery illustrated by William Mulready and the two first postage stamps figuring Queen Victoria (1 penny and 2 pence).

The cancelling stamp was recalled: the red cross must be struck on Britannia for the stationery and on each postage stamps on a letter, plus the datestamp still to be used. You can see almost all the meanings of the word "stamp", as noun or verb, in this letter.

Why only postmasters of Scotland? A Google search, as holefull as it can be, led to the possible identity of Secretary Edward S. Lees in the transcription of a witnesses list invited to speak about the postal reform proposed by Rowland Hill and in this National Library of Australia's summary of a postal annual directory and calendar of 1841-1842. Lees was the Secretary to Post-Office of Scotland. Nothing surprising, administratively speaking: England and Wales are often considered very united, while Scotland and Ireland though united kingdoms, had a specific treatment.

A transcription of this document is available on Wikisource. Don't forget to say your sources and references.

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