Postmarks and postal rates


The letter-stamp has been inside the letterbox since 1830. These stamps were allocated to the communes according to the direction of the postman's round decided by the Administration. The first town on the route was marked A, the second B, and so on. Some post offices organized several rounds of postmen because there were so many communes to serve. Obviously, not all rounds began with the letter A. The indexation was taken up again where the 1st postman's round stopped. So, if a post office's route no. 1 ended at M, the 1st town in route no. 2 for the same post office was indexed with the letter N.

When the rural post was first set up, up until 1836, the postman had to imprint this letter-stamp on his round survey.

This survey was a document that had to collect all the letter-stamp imprints in the order of the round imposed by the Administration. On returning to the office, the rural postman had to hand in the survey to prove that he had completed his round in all the rural communes he was to visit.

Letter-stamps are often referred to as “postman's stamps", but this is a mistake, as they are actually mailbox stamps. The real “postman's mark" is the "OR" stamp.

Additional rural letterboxes can also be found. Sometimes, a commune with a very large area or a lot of postal traffic would have several letterboxes. As a result, a number was added to the letter-stamp of the additional box. There were also occasions when the number of letters in the alphabet was insufficient to identify all the communes in a given district, and certain letter stamps had to be duplicated.

The Regulation on the report of letter taxes of 19 November 1835 ordered rural postmen to affix the letter-stamp in the top right-hand corner of each letter found in the letterbox.


Additional rural mailbox letter-stamp

The OR stamp stands for "Origine Rurale" (Rural Origin). This stamp was found in the postman's bag and had to be imprinted on letters delivered by hand on his rounds. Circular no. 64 of 9 June 1836 introduced the "OR" stamp.

From 1 February 1851, if the postman found a letter franked with postage stamps in the letterbox that could be delivered during his round, he had to cancel the franking with his OR stamp and not with the letter-stamp from the rural box (Circular no. 56 of 27 February 1851).

The additional rural decime stamp had to be applied on all letters from or to a rural commune (without a post office). This stamp was used from 1 April 1830 until 31 December 1846. However, this stamp was not to be used on letters circulating in the rural district of a post office (the town where the post office was located as well as all the localities dependent on it). The rural decime was stamped in red if the letter came from a rural locality, and in black if it was bound for a locality without an office. The rural decime could only be struck once, even if the letter came from a commune and was bound for another  without an office.

Article 21 of the special instruction on post office stations service of April 1834 specifies that a post office was provided with 2 rural decime stamps, one which it applied in black and the other in red.

The CL stamp for "Correspondance Locale” (local correspondance) had to be applied on all postage due letters circulating within the same rural district. From 1830 to 1832, this stamp was also used in the post office stations. After 1832, these post offices used the CD stamp.

This stamp is an accounting mark.

The CL stamp ceased to be used in December 1858.

The CD stamp stands for "Correspondence de Distribution” (post office station correspondence) was introduced in 1832. It had to be applied on all postage due letters circulating within the rural district of a post office station. Like the CL stamp, it ceased to be used in December 1858.

Unlike the CL stamp, the CD stamp was uncommon, as the mail circulating in the post office station district was generally small.

We do not know the regulations that put this stamp into service. Only the General Instructions for postal service of June 1832 mentions it in chapter II and in the list of equipment in article no. 81 that a post office station had to possess.

In the suburbs of towns, there were often one or more additional urban mailboxes.

They were called additional because they were located quite a distance from the post office. The additional urban mailboxes are easily recognized by the squared letter-stamp.

When the postman collected mail from these boxes, he had to imprint the letter-stamp on the mail.

Additional urban mailbox stamps appeared in 1852.

Additional urban mailbox letter-stamp

The OL stamp was carried in the postmen's bag and stood for "Origine Locale” (Local Origin). It was affixed to all letters delivered to the postman during his round. It is often thought that this mark appeared with the OR stamp in 1836. However, this is not the case, as it appeared in July 1868 (mentioned in the General Instruction for postal service of July 1868). There are 2 variants:

- continuous circle: town post

- dotted circle: local postman.

Town postman

Local postman

Local postage rates

Inside a town:

  • From 22 March 22 1800.

No difference between postage paid and postage due.

  • From 1 January 1863.

Chargé letter: + 20 c.

Declared value: Postage + 20 c for registration + 10 c per fraction of 100 fr.

  • From 1 September 1871.

Chargé letter: + 50 c.

Registered letter: + 50 c

Value declared: Postage + 50 c registration + 20 c per fraction of 100 fr.

  • From 1 January 1876.

Inside a Postal District:

  • From 1 April 1830.

  • From 1 January 1863.

No difference in rate between postage due and postage paid.

Additional rul decime (10 c) for letters circulating between 2 rural districts.

  • From 1 September 1871.

Special rates:

From March 1, 1829: Opened printed matters to 11 dm²(inclusive): 5 c. Double postage if more than 11 dm².

From January 1, 1847: Suppression of the addition rural Decime.

From January 1, 1849: Chargée and registered letter : double postage and postage paid.

From July 1, 1850: Chargé letter : double postage and postage paid. Registered letter: + 25 c (and postage paid)

From Décember 31, 1852: Printed matters in opened envelope ( calling card, etc ): 5 c

From July 1, 1854: Chargée letter: + 25 c. Registered letter: suppressed

From August 1, 1856: Printed matters in opened envelope (visiting cards, etc): 5 c untill 10 g inclusive. (+ 5 c per additional 10 g section).

Chargé letter: + 20 c.

Declared value: Postage + 20 c for registration + 10 c per fraction of 100 fr.

Chargé letter: + 50 c.

Registered letter: + 50 c

Value declared: Postage + 50 c registration + 20 c per fraction of 100 fr.

  • From 1 January 1876.