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The Postmarks of 
Mitford’s Letters, 
including 
sample images and 
TEI markup 
Version 1.1 
By Greg Bondar 
University of...
Typical Mitford address leaf, with the 
usual stamps and “folded by nines”
Typical Mitford address leaf, with the 
usual stamps and “folded by nines” 
Delivery Mileage 
Franking
Sample TEI Describing Postmarks 
<p>Folio sheet of <material>paper</material> folded in half to form four 
quarto pages, w...
Mileage 
Duty Delivery
Mileage Stamp 
1) black circular mileage stamp 
<!-- Applied upon deposit of letter at local PO 
ie. This stamp bears the ...
Mileage Stamp 
The distance, or mileage, a letter travelled determined the 
postage, multiplied by the number of sheets, p...
Duty Stamp 
2) Red double circle Duty stamp 
<!--Applied upon arrival in London --> 
reading <date when="1821-11-01“> 
<st...
Duty Stamp 
• As unpaid mail arrived by mail coach at the Chief 
Office in London in the morning, it was stamped 
with a m...
Duty Stamp 
Evening duty stamps from 
Talfourd in London sending 
to Mitford in Reading. 
Evening Duty stamp 
from MRM in ...
Irish Duty Stamp 
• Special stamp for unpaid letters 
passing through Dublin 
Bound for Castle Martyr, Ireland via Dublin ...
Delivery Stamp 
3) Sepia-inked oval Delivery stamp 
<!-- Applied upon transfer from Inland Mail to 
London's local “Twopen...
Delivery Stamp 
• Usually stamped in red ink, rarely black. 
• “PAID” indicates that the postal fee was paid by the sender...
Delivery Stamp 
• 1794-1834:Chief Office=Mo Day; Westminster= Day Mo 
• 1795-1824:Westminster= Indented rim 
• 1801-1819:C...
Delivery Stamp 
(Charge Marks) 
• Letters not prepaid were liable to an additional charge 
when entering London’s Twopenny...
Receiving House Stamp 
• Stamped when a letter was submitted at a 
Receiving House of the Two-Penny Post, either 
to be ma...
Franking stamps, Fees, and 
indications of payment 
<p>A large 7 denoting the fee for a single-sheet letter 
has been writ...
Some of Mitford’s seals 
1825 
1835
Mitford’s “Mary” seal 
1819 
1824 
Jan 1812 
Dec 1811 
Dec 1812 
July 1813 
Oct 1813 
Mar 1814
Mitford’s “Familie” seal 
1823 
July 1811 
Aug 1813 
Jan 1814
Oct 1806 Jan 1811 
Jan 1816 
Mar 1818
Mitford’s ‘Sword & Dog’s-head’ seal 
Feb 1810 
Mar 1814
Mitford’s ‘Cupid’ seal 
“UN ME SUFFIT” = “ONE IS ENOUGH” 
Jan 1812 
May 1815
References 
• Alcock, R. C. and F. C. Holland. The Postmarks of Great 
Britain and Ireland. Cheltenham, England: Alcock, L...
Jan 1814
June 1814 
Aug 1810 
Dec 1820 
July 1815
How to Read and Code 19th-Century British Postmarks in TEI
How to Read and Code 19th-Century British Postmarks in TEI
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How to Read and Code 19th-Century British Postmarks in TEI

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a powerpoint slideshow of 19th-century letter manuscripts (shared courtesy of Reading Central Library) with annotations to help guide viewers in reading and understanding postal markings on 19th-century British mail. The guide also orients readers to coding this information according the standard guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative, or TEI.

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How to Read and Code 19th-Century British Postmarks in TEI

  1. 1. The Postmarks of Mitford’s Letters, including sample images and TEI markup Version 1.1 By Greg Bondar University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
  2. 2. Typical Mitford address leaf, with the usual stamps and “folded by nines”
  3. 3. Typical Mitford address leaf, with the usual stamps and “folded by nines” Delivery Mileage Franking
  4. 4. Sample TEI Describing Postmarks <p>Folio sheet of <material>paper</material> folded in half to form four quarto pages, with correspondence on 1-3 and address leaf on page 4, then folded in thirds twice more and sealed for posting.</p> <p>Address leaf bearing the following postmarks: 1) black circular mileage stamp <!-- Applied upon deposit of letter at local PO --> reading <stamp>READING<lb/><unclear> <gap quantity="1" unit="chars" reason="illegible”/></unclear></stamp>. 2) Red double circle duty stamp Applied upon arrival in London --> reading <date when="1821-11-01"> <stamp>B<lb/>1 NO 1<lb/>1821</stamp></date>. 3) Sepia-inked oval Delivery stamp <!-- Applied upon transfer from Inland Mail to London's local Penny Post for delivery. --> reading <stamp><time>10 o'Clock</time><lb/> <date>* NO * 1 *</date><lb/> <date>1821</date> F.N<hi rend="superscript">n </hi></stamp></p> <p>A large 7 denoting the fee for a single-sheet letter has been written in black ink by the postal service across the address leaf.</p> <teiHeader> <sourceDesc> <msDesc> <physDesc> <objectDesc> <supportDesc> <support> See this letter imaged on the next slide 
  5. 5. Mileage Duty Delivery
  6. 6. Mileage Stamp 1) black circular mileage stamp <!-- Applied upon deposit of letter at local PO ie. This stamp bears the date the letter was mailed --> reading <stamp>READING<lb/> <unclear><gap quantity="1" unit="chars" reason="illegible”/></unclear></stamp>. 42 miles from Reading to London April 14, 1818 October 22, 1819
  7. 7. Mileage Stamp The distance, or mileage, a letter travelled determined the postage, multiplied by the number of sheets, paid by the recipient. Rates for 1812: (after Staff 1964, page 72) Distance Rate Up to 15 miles 4d. 15-20 miles 5d. 20-30 miles 6d. 30-50 miles 7d. 50-80 miles 8d. 80-120 miles 9d. 120-170 miles 10d. 170-230 miles 11d. 230-300 miles 1s. 300-400 miles 1s. 1d. Over 400 miles +1d. for every 100 miles
  8. 8. Duty Stamp 2) Red double circle Duty stamp <!--Applied upon arrival in London --> reading <date when="1821-11-01“> <stamp>B<lb/> 1 NO 1<lb/> <!--Day MONTH Day--> 1821</stamp></date>. NOTE: The date on this stamp is usually later than the date on the Mileage Stamp! Also, Letters that have been franked will not receive a Duty Stamp [which indicates that payment is owed?]
  9. 9. Duty Stamp • As unpaid mail arrived by mail coach at the Chief Office in London in the morning, it was stamped with a morning duty stamp, including the date of arrival and a letter designating the sorting table. Mail left London on mail coaches in the evening and received the evening duty stamp. Morning and evening duty stamps were introduced in 1795 in order to identify the individual clerk who stamped a specific piece of mail.
  10. 10. Duty Stamp Evening duty stamps from Talfourd in London sending to Mitford in Reading. Evening Duty stamp from MRM in London writing to mother at Bertram House Mitford writing to London: Are these morning or evening duty stamps? Alcock & Holland 1940:22 , Fig. 28, call these examples morning duty stamps, while Cameron 1961:919 calls them evening duty stamps (with the double rim). According to Paterson 1811:533, the mail coach both arrives and departs Reading at 1:20am, presumably as a result of a morning arrival and an evening departure from the Central Office in London. As a result, these are most likely to be morning duty stamps.
  11. 11. Irish Duty Stamp • Special stamp for unpaid letters passing through Dublin Bound for Castle Martyr, Ireland via Dublin Mileage Stamp (From Reading) Irish Duty Stamp Irish Mileage Stamp (Dublin to Castle Martyr) Frank
  12. 12. Delivery Stamp 3) Sepia-inked oval Delivery stamp <!-- Applied upon transfer from Inland Mail to London's local “Twopenny Post” for delivery. --> reading <stamp><time>10 o'Clock</time><lb/> <date>* NO * 1 *</date><lb/> <date>1821</date> F.N<hi rend="superscript">n </hi></stamp></p> Abbreviations of Delivery times: F.N.n = Forenoon N.T = Night
  13. 13. Delivery Stamp • Usually stamped in red ink, rarely black. • “PAID” indicates that the postal fee was paid by the sender. The absence of “PAID” on the Delivery Stamp indicates an “Unpaid” stamp and the fee is to be paid by the recipient upon delivery. • When a letter was transferred from the Twopenny Post to the General Post Office for delivery, an additional fee was owed as indicated by:
  14. 14. Delivery Stamp • 1794-1834:Chief Office=Mo Day; Westminster= Day Mo • 1795-1824:Westminster= Indented rim • 1801-1819:Chief Office=single-rim; Westminster=no border • 1819-1834: Chief Office=dbl-rim; Westminster=single-rim
  15. 15. Delivery Stamp (Charge Marks) • Letters not prepaid were liable to an additional charge when entering London’s Twopenny Post system for delivery: Here a 2d. Charge Mark has been crossed-out and replaced with one for 3d.
  16. 16. Receiving House Stamp • Stamped when a letter was submitted at a Receiving House of the Two-Penny Post, either to be mailed or delivered.
  17. 17. Franking stamps, Fees, and indications of payment <p>A large 7 denoting the fee for a single-sheet letter has been written in black ink by the postal service across the address leaf.</p> (42 miles from Reading to London would have cost 7d.) Franking Stamps This letter cost Haydon 7 pence to read Ireland
  18. 18. Some of Mitford’s seals 1825 1835
  19. 19. Mitford’s “Mary” seal 1819 1824 Jan 1812 Dec 1811 Dec 1812 July 1813 Oct 1813 Mar 1814
  20. 20. Mitford’s “Familie” seal 1823 July 1811 Aug 1813 Jan 1814
  21. 21. Oct 1806 Jan 1811 Jan 1816 Mar 1818
  22. 22. Mitford’s ‘Sword & Dog’s-head’ seal Feb 1810 Mar 1814
  23. 23. Mitford’s ‘Cupid’ seal “UN ME SUFFIT” = “ONE IS ENOUGH” Jan 1812 May 1815
  24. 24. References • Alcock, R. C. and F. C. Holland. The Postmarks of Great Britain and Ireland. Cheltenham, England: Alcock, Ltd., 1940. • Cameron, Kenneth Neill. “Postmarks and the Dating of Manuscripts”. Shelley and his Circle, Volume 2: 914-25. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1961. • Peterson, Daniel. A New and Accurate Description of All the Direct and Principal Cross Roads in England, Wales, and Part of Scotland, 15th edition. London: Longman, 1811. • Staff, Frank. The Penny Post 1680-1918. London: Lutterworth Press, 1964.
  25. 25. Jan 1814
  26. 26. June 1814 Aug 1810 Dec 1820 July 1815

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