Introduction to Stampless Covers
Stampless covers are letters that were posted before the time when the use of postage stamps became mandatory for sending mail, on January 1, 1856.
In the stampless era, letters, either folded sheets of writing or letters in envelopes, were taken to the post office where a town marking was applied. This was done with a handstamp and inkpad or with a pen. We thus divide stampless postmarks into handstamp or manuscript.
Manuscript postmarks usually come from smaller post offices that could not afford a handstamp or did not have the volume to warrant one. They are, therefore, more rare than handstamp postmarks.
Collections can be formed in many ways. Some collect specific states, cities, geographic areas, content, rates, etc.
The standard reference work and catalog is the "American Stampless Cover Catalog". There are three volumes, but for the general collector Vol. 1 is all that is needed. The catalog may be obtained from:
U.S. Philatelic Classics Society Literature
New Orleans, LA 70176-0368
A good introduction would be our advertised offer of 5 stampless covers for $20.00. These covers are from both large cities and small towns and will let you see and feel for yourself the pleasure that comes from collecting stampless covers.