<<<<             >>>> 


Locals and Expresses
Page 3

Corner card of Truman and Chapman Express envelope, 1861

San Francisco

Truman & Chapman
San Francisco

Not in Scott
Not in Lyons
Not in Mosher

Despite the absence of the word "PAID," most sources I consulted consider this a true frank of the period. Truman and Chapman was a relatively short-lived San Francisco express company. At the time I created this page, the only illustration I could find of this design was from Siegel auction 825 but Richard Frajola has published this article declaring the item a fake. At least the T&C corner card is genuine!

TRUMAN & Co's Express
San Francisco

Truman & Co's Express
San Francisco

Not in Scott
Not in Lyons
Not in Mosher

The illustration/corner card on this envelope includes that text "Prepaid Envelopes, $7.00 per Hundred", making it clear that the cost per envelope was 7¢, including the 3¢ US postage, so it is clear to me that illustration represents payment of postage, and this item belongs here unquivocally.


Wells Fargo

1883, 1884, 1892

Not in Scott
Not in Lyons

Not listed in MOSHER, though he has an extensive section about the company, of which he says

"Transcontinental private mail and package express company that was started on March 18, 1852 in New York by Henry Wells and William G. Fargo. The intended operating area of this express company was the California coast and gold fields and it began its express business in California later in 1852. Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express quickly expanded throughout California and gradually acquired other express companies and railroad express contracts until it achieved true transcontinental coverage on March 16, 1888. It became one of the four largest U.S. express companies ever, and perhaps it alone was the biggest in U.S. history. The official business name was changed to Wells Fargo & Company Express in 1898. The U.S. package express business portion of this company subsequently ended and was absorbed by the American Railway Express Co. on July 1,1918 by federal proclamation. However, Wells Fargo continued with their express business in Mexico into the 1940's. The Wells Fargo banking operations that was started in the 19th century also continued to prosper after 1918 and this institution is still going strong today."

He shows other corner cards, but not these.???

The illustration here includes the text "DOMESTIC FRANK" and "PAID OVER ALL OUR LINES WITHIN THE UNITED STATES", both of which indicate the design represents payment of postage. The first date - 1852 - is the date the company was founded. The second is the date the envelope was issued, I assume, though I have seen only three different dates - 1883, 1884, and 1892. Berthold (Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Handstamps and Franks, 1926) confirms this, with the addition of a "VICTORIA, VANCOUVER ISLAND" variety of the 1884 frank (quite rare), and two varieties of the 1892 frank - one with a small "1892" and one with a large one. Each frank was applied as well to various different USPOD envelopes, differing in denomination, die, or paper, so for the specialist there are at least 45 different combinations to collect.


Wells Fargo

Not in Scott
Not in Lyons

I paid $70 for this, based on little more than my own desire to have it, and the dealer's reputation. It is listed in Bruce Mosher's invaluable 2002 (REVISED EDITION 2018) "Catalog of Private Express Labels and Stamps" as label number WFCX-L565, and was probably franking of a sort for a package carried by Wells Fargo.

Here's another label, contributed to the site by Bill Taylor (though he wants credit given to Calvert R Stier, whose collection it belonged to). This one appears to be WCFX-L530 in Mosher's book.

And two nice Wells Fargo envelopes, also from Calvert R Stier via Bill Taylor.


The inscription on the second one is particularly interesting - it reads:

Have gold dust coined and deliver coin to Levi Strauss & Co 16 Battery St. Return paid (?) receipt to this office.

Which begs the question "Was coinage not restricted to government mints in 1888?"

Boston, Mass

W. Wyman

Scott 149L1
$200 used
$800 on cover

According to Scott, Wyman's was "established to carry mail between Boston and New York," making them an Independent Letter Carrier or Letter Express. Their stamp is one of the most widely reproduced and forged. It is also considered "the first stamp in the world to picture a locomotive", making it especially popular among train stamp collectors.

The two covers above (there are 34 covers known bearing these stamps) are examples of the effect of the combination of scarcity and good salemanship. Scott values the stamp on cover at $800, yet the cover on the left sold for over ten times and the one on the right for three times that amount. Here are the auction writeups to help you understand their allure:

lot 1607, Siegel auction #817, Nov 15-17, 1999 - realized $9,000+10%

W. Wyman, Boston Mass., 5c Black (149L1). Three huge margins, slightly in at bottom, tied by large ms. "X" on Dec. 31, 1844 folded letter from Boston to Geo. S. Robbins in New York City, red "Overton & Co's City Mail, Office, 3 Broad Street" oval handstamp, file fold
William Wyman established his "cheap postage" letter express on August 1, 1844, with service between New York and Boston. On December 14, 1844, Wyman sold the business to Overton & Co. and announced that his distinctive Locomotive stamps ? the first stamps in the world to depict a train ? could be redeemed or used on mail given to Overton (reference: Richard Schwartz, Opinions). Only two recorded covers show acceptance of Wyman's stamps by Overton: the cover offered here and another with two Wyman stamps and the Overton oval. In a postscript to the letter contained within, the writer informs us "I will use Wymans last stamp on hand today".
Ex Abt...... E. 2,000-3,000

lot 386, Siegel auction #830, Nov 13-14, 2000 - realized $2,400+10%

W. Wyman, Boston Mass., 5c Black (149L1). This position with incomplete "W" initial, large to huge margins, tied by smears from ms. "X" cancel on Nov. 21, 1844 blue folded letter from Boston to Geo. S. Robbins in New York City, red Wyman's handstamp, fresh and Extremely Fine, only sixteen covers recorded, acquired by the Halls from Economist Stamp Co. in 1925..... E. 1,500-2,000

I wrote a page attempting to answer another collector's inquiry as to the identity of the train on this stamp, and rather than repeat what I already wrote there, suggest you look at it, if you want to know a lot more about this stamp.

American Express

American Express

(Not a stamp)
Not in Scott

I show this one, a recent eBay acquisition, simply because I like it. It does have a train, and was used by an express company. The envelope was used to transmit invoices and payment between American Express agents, and as such had no "postage fee" connected with it. The seller said it dated from the 1870's, and the notation "7/11-77" could mean November 11, 1877.

American Express was founded in 1849   (some say 1850 - scroll down), so it did exist in 1877. If anyone has knowledge of the envelope, its use, or its date, please email me at .


continued on next page...

Click on image above to continue

Top of Page

Please note that ALL of the stamps illustrated on this page are considered to be genuine,i.e., not counterfeits, though some, as I have indicated, are fantasies or bogus issues, i.e., there was no such local or express. I do not wish to attempt to duplicate Larry Lyons' efforts here by showing fakes and explaining how to identify the real thing, so I have used scans from auction catalogs where I could find them, and copied the Lyons illustration only where his was the only one available to me. If you think I am wrong, and something I show is a reproduction or forgery, please email me at If you have a better scan to share with the world, I would welcome that too.


Identifier for Carriers, Locals, Fakes, Forgeries and Bogus Posts of the United States, Larry Lyons; published by the author, 1998

The subtitle of this book is "A Study of the Identification of the Local Stamp Adhesive from the Forgeries and Bogus Posts". It is NOT a history, catalog, or pricing guide, and while I would love to see it expanded in those as well as other directions, I am very pleased with it just as it is. Use it to determine whether the stamp you have is an authentic local post adhesive or some sort of fake, forgery or fantasy.

Catalog of Private Express Labels and Stamps, Bruce Mosher; published by the author, 2002, REVISED EDITION 2018.

A magnificent book listing and illustrating over 2000 labels issued by private express companies in the US and Canada.
I have reproduced all the labels that have a train image on them HERE.

The Private Local Posts of The United States, Volume 1, Patton, Donald Scott; pub. Robson Lowe, London, 1967

This is still a very useful tool in studying the area, as it includes extensive text discussions of the posts themselves, plus reproductions of some of their cancellations, which are of great value and interest to postal historians.

Scott 1997 Specialized Catalog of U.S. Stamps

I used this for the prices and some of the dates I quote above.
It is still deficient in its coverage of Locals and Expresses, treating the latter especially poorly.

The David Golden Collection of United States Carriers and Locals pub. Siegel Auction Galleries, 1999

This was the auction catalog for Siegel's sale 817, November 15-17, 1999, and in keeping with their recent efforts to create a serious reference resource for collectors, in both their catalogs and their web site, it contains not only high-quality phoitographs of most of the lots, but also scholarly writeups about both the local posts themselves and the stamps and covers.

The Hall Collection of United States Carriers, Locals, and Western Expresses pub. Siegel Auction Galleries, 2000

This was the auction catalog for Siegel's sale 830, November 13-14, 2000, and is another essential reference work for the serious student, with superb photographs and writeups.


Below are some of the sites I link to above - the ones I think are worth visiting and browsing through.

Colorado & Southern Rolling- stock

This website is dedicated to the narrow gauge rolling-stock that the Colorado & Southern Railroad ?inherited? from four of its numerous predecessor railroads (and such others as just might accidentally creep in)

Top of Page

Previous Page         HOME         Next Page

All text Copyright © 2000, William M. Senkus

Send feedback to the author: CLICK HERE

Revised -- 07/29/2018