Eunice and Ron Shanahan have shared with readers of the Victorian Web this material from their website, Letters from the Past. Click on thumbnails for larger images.

This letter from the past is from A. Scott of Bootle dated 24th February, 1841, addressed to Peter Hodgson Esqr, Queen Street Whitehaven, which is north of Bootle, on the Cumberland coast. The postal markings are:

  1. straightline townstamp BOOTLE.
  2. standard provincial circular twin-arc undated townstamp RAVENGLASS in red of the type in use from 1829. Ravenglass is is a very old-established place in Cumberland. In fact in 1208 King John authorised a Saturday market, and an annual fair on St James’s Day. I don’t know why the postmark was applied, on a letter only passing through this town en-route to Whitehaven, unless it was a transit mark — but as it is undated, I cannot verify that.
  3. faint outline of a red Maltese Cross cancellation. As this type of cancellation was introduced in 1840 to obliterate the stamp so that it could not be used again, there would have been an adhesive stamp on this letter. Probably a previous owner has removed it! The appeal of the Penny black is irresistible to many collectors, and they are frequently removed from old letters, to be mounted in a stamp collection. However, the letter itself has not been torn or damaged and the contents are still perfectly legible.


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Last modified 10 December 2002