United States Domestic Postage Rates

(1792-1855)

website created and maintained by

Glenn A. Estus

A different view of the information

The period between 1792 and 1855 is called the "Stampless Era" in U.S. Postal History.

Postage Stamps were not issued by the United States government until 1847. Using postage stamps on letters did not become mandatory until after 1855. The charts below list the major domestic postage rates structure in the United States during that time period.

Until 1847, postage was charged by the number of sheets or enclosures as well as the distance to be traveled. For example a letter in 1840 going less than 30 miles would be charged 6c for each sheet and/or enclosure. Therefore, a letter containing 3 banknotes would be charged 24c to go between Westport, N.Y. and Keeseville, N.Y. while a single sheet letter for the same distance would be charged only 6c.

The same letter with enclosures traveling between Westport and Albany would have cost 50c.

This cover paid the 8c rate X 3 = 24c in 1797 from Portsmouth, N.H. to Newburyport, Mass.

(need) = I need an example for my collection

The following information is based on American Stampless Cover Catalog, Volumn 1, 1997.

Click on the highlighted links below to see examples of that rate (including a few multple rates). The link will lead you from this web location.

 

Act of February 20, 1792:

(effective June 1, 1792)


Act of May 8, 1794:

(effective June 1, 1794)


Act effective March 2, 1799

(effective ????)


Act of December 23, 1814 (click here to see a copy of the Post Office Notice)

[effective February 1, 1815 (War Rate)]
This rate imposed a 50% surcharge on all 1799 rates.


Act of February 1, 1816

(effective March 31, 1816) (Restored Rates of 1799)
This rate period last only 1 month and is one of the most difficult periods to find examples from


Act of April 9, 1816

(effective May 1, 1816)


Act of March 3, 1825

effective May 1, 1825

  • 18 3/4c 150-400 miles
  • note: During the early 1800's Spanish Currency circulated freely in the US. 1 Spanish Real was equal to $1.00 (US). A Real could be divided into 8 bits. 1 bit was equal to 12 1/2c US...2 bits was equal to 25c. The 18 3/4c rate fit more easily into this scheme than the previous 18 1/2c rate: 1 bit (12 1/2c) plus 1/2 bit (6 1/4c) = 1 1/2 bits or 18 3/4c.


Act of March 3, 1845

(effective May 1, 1845)


Act of March 3, 1847

(effective July 1, 1847)


Act of August 14, 1848


Act of March 3, 1851

effective July 1, 1851


Act of March 3, 1855

effective April 1, 1855

 

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page modified April 14, 2005