Natal 1871 Incorrectly Taxed Reverse Direction Soldier's Letter


1871 INCOMING - INCORRECTLY TAXED - CONCESSIONARY RATE SOLDIER'S LETTER USED IN THE REVERSE DIRECTION TO A SOLDIER: Small format envelope from Grahams Town (BONC 3 and cds on reverse JY 27) addressed to "Sergt W Taylor, Staff Clerk, RE Dept, Fort Napier, Natal". (Over)franked single 4d Hope seated. Natal GPO arrival cds 15 8 1871 on reverse. The sender, presumably in ignorance of the reverse-direction concessionary rate as also the then usual 6d rate to Natal, had franked the letter for usual within-Cape carriage at 4d. Upon processing by the Natal post office a charge of the deficient postage was raised as indicated by strike of boxed handstamp TO PAY and manuscript "2d to pay". This postage due amount was successfully refuted by the Sergeant-addressee as per manuscript endorsement " Soldier's letter improperly charged 2d reclaimed." Well-travelled, backflap missing, full of character and an academically interesting fine example of this little known reverse direction variation on the military concessionary franking. An important rarity.

Quoting Trotter, "Southern Africa Mails, Pg 226" with regard to the non-punitive handling of the alleged postage short payment without penalty: "A Cape Colony Postal Notice dated 7 February 1861 republished the postage rates on letters to Natal for general information. The last sentence referred to charges on underpaid letters: letters posted underpaid or insufficiently paid, will be charged with the difference of the postage due upon them upon delivery." So, at this time there appeared to be no penalty for unpaid or insufficiently paid letters with just the unpaid amount to be paid by the recipient upon arrival. Subsequently the Cape Colony Postal Notice dated 29 May 1872 advised that deficient postage plus a fine would be charged…

Then, for the Military Concessionary Rates: Postal Ordinance number 1 of 1846 defined legislation for postage rates in Southern Africa. Article 30: "and be it enacted, that the following classes of persons may both send and receive letters not exceeding half an ounce in weight, by the post, it a postage of one penny for each letter; namely- Every seaman employed in her Majesty's navy whilst such seaman shall be employed in her Majesty service in this colony; Every sergeant, Cpl, drummer, trumpeter, Pfeiffer and private soldier in her Majesty's land forces while actually employed in her Majesty's service in this colony. But the letters of commissioned officers or warrant officers whether in the Army or Navy or midshipman or masters mates of the Navy are not included in this provision."

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