Chargé letters 1854-1876

The postage rates of July 1854 no longer gave Post Office users the option of registering a letter. Only Chargé letter option was offered. It provided the sender with proof of deposit and the assurance of special treatment by the Post Office until the mail was delivered to the addressee. The post office paid compensation in the event of loss.

Chargé letters had to be stamped and hermetically sealed with at least 2 wax seals.

The cost of loading consisted of:

  • the postage for the letter according to its weight;

  • a fixed  charge (20 c for the rates dated 01/07/1854).

Extract from the 1857 postal directory.

Letter from BAILLEUL to ST OMER franked at 60 c for a weight of 15.4 g, i.e. the 2nd weight step.

The postage breaks down as follows:

40 c postage for the 2nd step;

20 c fixed charge.

(rates of 6 July 1859)

The regulations did not impose a specific number of wax seals. At least 2 were required.

Circular no. 129 of June 1859 did not specify the colour of ink to be used for the Chargé description stamp. However, since circular no. 36 of 18 October 1836, the CHARGE stamp must be applied in red rather than black.

Letter from CAMBRAI to PARIS franked at 40 c for a weight of 6.2g.

The postage is applied as follows:

20 c for postage at the first weight step;

20 c fixed charge.

The number in the top left-hand corner is for registration in register no. 18.

Article 318 of the 1856 General Instruction.

Extract from circular no. 20 of the August 1856 issue of the Monthly Bulletin.

Chargé Letter from VALENCIENNES to DOUCHY (postal district of the BOUCHAIN post office) franked at 40 c.

This letter was addressed to a deceased person and the heirs did not wish to collect it: "Décédé....Refusée par les héritiers".

In such a case, a refused Chargé letter was sent to the dead letter branch in PARIS.

Extract from article 1076 of the 1856 General Instruction.

The Chargé order number recorded at VALENCIENNES is crossed out and the BOUCHAIN post office put a new number (1), the one in the list of daily dead letters sent to Paris.

Extract from article 1099 of the General Instruction of 1856.

This letter bears the stamp of a trading house, and more specifically of an insurance company. It can therefore be returned immediately.

Article 1100 of the General Instruction of 1856.

Article 288 of the General Instruction of 1868.

Extract from the errata of Monthly Bulletin no. 2, August 1868.

Declared value letter of 1250 fr weighing 10.7 g from LILLE to PARIS. Postage breaks down as follows:

40 centimes for the 2nd weight step;

20 c for fixed charge.

The sender paid 1fr30 proportional fee in cash.

On 1 June 1870, the proportional fee on declared value letters had to be paid in postage stamps rather than in cash.

Circular no. 28 of Monthly Bulletin no. 22, April 1870.

Chargé letter weighing 5.7 g from LILLE-FIVES to PARIS.

Postage at 75 c is calculated as follows:

25 c for the first weight step;

50 c fixed Chargé fee.

Chargé letter weighing 15 g from Lille to Paris.

The franking is as follows:

40 c for 2nd step of weight (more than 10 g);

50 c for registration.

On 1st September 1871, postal rates increased as follows:

letters up to 10 g: 25 c

up to 20 g : 40 c

up to 50 g: 70 c

for each additional 50 g: + 50 c

Fixed Chargé fee: 50 c

Proportional fee per 100 Fr of declared value: 20 c

Extract from circular no. 301 in the June 1863 issue of the Monthly Bulletin.

Chargé etter from MERVILLE for NIEL in Belgium franked at 80 c. Chargé letters to Belgium were authorised. Instruction no. 15 of the June 1869 Monthly Bulletin added an amendment to the 1865 French-Belgian postal agreement. This amendment confirmed the fixed Chargé fee at 50 c and set a proportional fee for declared values at 20 c per fraction of 100fr.

Extract from instruction no. 15 of the June 1869 Monthly Bulletin.

Monthly Bulletin no. 2 of August of the same year rectified this error with an erratum.

The General Instruction published in July 1868 failed to mention the colour of the ink reserved for the Chargé description stamp.

Until June 1859, Chargé letters bore only the CHARGE mark in red, in addition to the cancellation stamp and the post office date stamp. From 1 July 1859, a new stamp appeared and had to be applied to the back of letters. This stamp had was used to describe the weight, the number of wax seals, their colour, and the imprint on the seals.

Extract from circular no. 129 in Monthly Bulletin no. 46 of June 1859.

The law of 4 June 1859 (applicable from 6 July 1859) changed the weight scales and allowed users to insert values in Chargé letters, this type of letter was known as declared value letter. If the sender inserted valuables, he had to pay a fee of 10 c per 100 Frs declared. This fee had to be paid in cash and not with postage stamps.

As far as weight was concerned, the rates of 01/07/1854 used the weight scale for ordinary letters, i.e:

1st step up to and including 7.5 g;

2nd step: from more than 7.5 g to 15 g;

3rd step: from more than 15 g to 100 g.

The weight steps for a Chargé letter were fixed in June 1859 as follows:

1st step: up to and including 10 g;

2nd step: above 10 g up to 20 g;

3rd step: over 20 g up to 100 g.

Although the weight scale varied, the postage for each step remained unchanged.

Extract from circular no. 135 of Monthly Bulletin no. 47 of July 1859.

Extract from circular no. 135 of Monthly Bulletin no. 47 of July 1859.

The insertion of valuables in a letter was prohibited before July 1859.

Circular no. 135 of July 1859, in addition to allowing the insertion of valuables in Chargé letters, also allowed advice of delivery to be requested for Chargé letters. The sender could therefore request this advice from the post office for the fee of 10 c.

Advice of delivery have not always had the same form, but have invariably consisted of 4 sheets.

The LILLE post office has already filled in page 1; the ORCHIES office must fill in page 2 if the letter has been delivered. Note that the sender has filed this notice with the letter deposit receipt.

The ORCHIES post office sent the form to the LILLE post office.

Once received in LILLE, form 103 was sent to the sender. Note that the 10c stamp was affixed and cancelled by the LILLE post office before the form was sent to ORCHIES.

The Administration realised that form no. 103 was not necessarily filled in properly by the agents and that it was not complete enough, so it was decided to introduce a new model of form no. 103. This model appeared in March 1867. The decision was made official by circular no. 500 in the Monthly Bulletin of December 1866.