Cowes Week and Indian Postal History!

Not a combination that readily springs to mind, but that is one of the joys of buying mixed box lots at auction!

I recently purchased a very nice lot of stamp albums with a mixture of stamps and also envelopes/cards (“postal history”, to those not in the know). The lot was listed as “India and area” and I have subsequently been listing some of these items for sale in my Reynard Collectables delcampe online store here (with some interesting examples shown below).

One of the fascinations of Indian postal history (if you are that way inclined) is the varied history it can bring to light, with elements of the British Raj, the various individual states and their rulers and also military and social history. Many of the envelopes contain letters and a number of them are from British officers and officials at their summer retreats in the hills, with Simla (summer capital of the British Raj) and Murree popular locations for the 19thC items.

I also like the huge variety of place names; though a number of the covers/cards are indecipherable to me, being in the local language, many reflect the “Britishness” of the locations at the time (Park Street, Mount Road, Montgomery Street, Ivy Lodge Simla…) whereas others had names which have been subtly or drastically changed in modern times. In fact many of the covers are from what are now different countries – after the break-up of India – with items from Burma (Myanmar to give its current name), Bangladesh and Pakistan.

All round a fascinating area for study and well worth a look at my store here.

Which then leads me on to the other part of the title, Cowes Week. While sorting the India items for listing, there were a few unknowns and, as previously mentioned, lots of “British” type names on the envelopes, but I came across one with only the single line “Cowes” postmark to the back of the cover. The item itself had a heading of “Cowes August Tea 1830” and I then noticed the red circle postmark with Crown to top and “Free” printed inside the circle. This indicates a postal item covered under the old system whereby members of the British parliament could send mail free of charge with this postmark applied and with their signature to the front of the envelope/cover. This particular one had “Vernon” signed bottom left, and after some checking online I came across Robert Vernon (later Baron Liyveden) who turned out to have been MP for Tralee (Ireland was then ruled from London) from 1829 to 1831, before becoming the member for Northampton from 1831 to 1859 (also a government whip for the Liberals).

Anyway, he was obviously working hard on behalf of his Tralee constituents at one of the British “Social Season” events of Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight. The “Social Season” was a group of highlight events for the British “Upper Class” taking place through the summer months (with Goodwood racing, Henley Regatta and Glyndebourne being amongst others), many of which still take place today although with slightly less of the “elitist” upper class feel to them (?).

Unfortunately, this item was only a cover (often another name given to an envelope in postal history circles, but which in this instance was actually just a cover for an enclosed letter) whereas often the inside had the message written on (that would be termed an “entire”), so in this case we will never know Robert Vernon’s business with the Bank of England, which was the recipient of his mail. But it was nice to know he wasn’t having to spend his own hard-earned money sending the mail!

Just part of my wide and varied selection of items available in both my Reynard Collectables ebay and delcampe stores.

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About reynardcollectables

Married to Barbara, two boys, work from home office. Trying to build my collectables hobby into a profitable business.
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