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Some International Bills of Lading

Some International Bills of Lading

Per Mike Mahler’s essential book “A Catalog of United States Revenue-Stamped Documents of the Civil War Era by Type and Tax Rate” (1999, The American Revenue Association):

Quote: Any bill of lading to a foreign port is a significant item… Of the seven EMUs listed, it is unfortunate that two are defective (the Maitland and 7/24/1863 Wattson items).

At that time, he had recorded only 37 examples, of which 7 were early matching usages (mid-1863 or earlier).

So when an eBay lot of 4 bills of lading, all with international aspects came up, I promptly made an offer and it was accepted.

The first document is probably the least significant of the 4 philatelically, but also has the nicest aesthetics. It is a 2-color printed bill of lading, with ship vignette, from “The Neptune Line of Screw Steamers” for 9 cases of crackers. It appears to be the initial transportation step here in the United States, with the ultimate destination being Hong Kong via the Hong Kong & Macao (?) Steamboat Company.

I have a similar document from the same company, but printed only in black, with different entities/ports involved. If I am reading the two documents correctly, this second one was for domestic transportation rather than an international destination:

The other 3 documents are significant in that they are all 1863 usages, with 2 of the 3 being EMUs. More than a bit beat up (especially the one), but I can see why so few have survived. These are delicate, thin, almost “tissue paper” weight, INCREDIBLY fragile.

The first is a June 1863 bill of lading for “Twenty pieces pottery” bound for Hong Kong on the ship “Surprise”. It has an R36b affixed, and is thus not an EMU. Very attractive large-format embossed marking.

The second is a bit tattered: Bill of lading from March 1863 for 15 “parrels” butter, 30 half “parrels” sugar, and 12 cases of oil, bound for Hong Kong via the bark “Benefactor”. The document itself is not dated, however the 10-cent Bill of Lading imperf (R32a) is handstamp canceled March 25, 1863, making this an EMU. The stamp itself is quite lovely.

And lastly, another EMU also featuring a nice R32a, dated the same date as the above, March 25, 1863, going via the same ship, for 244 ??? coal and 481 tons coal. This seems like a huge amount of cargo; what was the cargo carrying capacity of these ships?.


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