Lot 41831871 (Dec. 17) Paris to Prangins, Switzerland (Smuggled Mail, Lettres Par Passeur), folded letter datelined "Paris, 17 Dec. 1870", carried by private line crosser, Alexandre Barthè who smuggled the mail out of Paris and then deposited it at the Nevers Post Office, Barthè departed Paris on the 14th of January at 12pm arriving in Nevers on the 19th, the cover is postmarked "Nevers, 19 Janv. 71" double circle with the 30c Empire Lauré tied by large numeral "2654" losange cancel, backstamped "Nyon, 22 Janv. 71" arrival postmark, on the reverse is Barthè manuscript endorsement in French which reads Reply by return mail to M. Barthè Poste Restante in Bordeaux, Very Fine.
Estimate $2,000 - 3,000.
AN EXTRAORDINARY AND HISTORIC ITEM OF WHICH THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 20 PIECES RECORDED.
Contents of the folded letter (written French with a few words in English) include:
"La presente part par United Nations facteur special du gouvernement, [il] se charge de rapporter la reponse, God knows how, moyenant 5f que je lui remettre de grand coeur, car voila bien 3 Mois que je n'ai scarce usage ton coiture. Donc au recu de la presente adresse la response thus aux soins de Monsieur Alexandre Barthe professeur à Amiens Somme France… 30c affranchissement et ecris sur papier tres mince et tres serré avec forte details de famille & tres peu de politique. J'espere que ta lettre me parviendra vers la fin de l'année…"
[Translation] The present leaves by a special postman of the government, [he] is in charge of bringing back the answer, God knows how, with 5f that I give him wholeheartedly, because it is indeed 3 months that I have not heard of your letter. So at the receipt of the present address the response thus to the, care of Mr. Alexandre Barthe professor at Amiens Somme France…, 30c postage and written on very thin, very tight paper with strong family details & very little politics. I hope your letter will reach me by the end of the year.
This letter gives special insight as to how this service functioned and the associated charges for the service (5f). By the time Barthè sent the letter he could no longer be found in Amiens, as it was then occupied by the Germans, thus he has endorsed it Poste Restante in Bordeaux.
The "Lettres Par Passeurs" were both official carriers and enterprising private individuals who smuggled mails out of Paris. These "Passuers" charged a fee for their service and perhaps the best known is Grimbert, nicknamed "L'homme d'Amiens", letters bear the endorsement: "Responding to M. Grimbert, Poste restante à Ameins". Another, well known smuggler was Alexandre Barthè to whom we find the manuscript endorsement to "Mr. Barthè Poste restante à Bordeaux". These documents are very rare and highly prized by collectors.
Lot 4184Gazette des Absents No.27, folded Gazette used in London to the U.S. Consul General in London, franked with Great Britain ½p tied by "WC 9" barred oval, full printed Gazette, however lettersheet is unused, Very Fine.
Estimate $150 - 200.
AN UNUSUAL AND INTRIGUING ITEM.
Lot 41851871 (Jan. 20) Local Paris Military Cover, folded letter postmarked "Paris, Charron, 20 Janv. 71" double circle postmark with rare red "Regiment de Paris, 164e Bataillon" cachet, manuscript endorsement "garde nationale de marche" at bottom left, Very Fine and rare.
Estimate $100 - 150.
Lot 41861871 (Jan. 31) Paris to Elbeuf, folded formular letter postmarked "Paris, R. St.Dominique St. Gn 53, 31 Janv. 71" double circle postmark and franked with 20c Empire Lauré tied by numeral "20" star cancel, stuck with large "20" due tax handstamp, Very Fine.
Estimate $100 - 150.
Letter mailed Jan. 31st, three days after the Siege was lifted.
The letter was posted unseal as per German regulations. It was addressed to occupied territory, hence the 20c postage due marking as the German office that handled the letter did not recognize the 20c stamp.
Lot 41871871 (Feb. 14) Paris to London (Censored Letter), unsealed folded letter postmarked "Paris, R. D'Antin, 14 Fevr. 71" double circle postmark and franked with 20c Cérès (clipped perfs) tied by indistinct cancel, stuck with red "Affranchissement Insuffisant" boxed handstamp, letter send unsealed as per German regulations, sent via Versailles with blue boxed "Versailles Auswechselungs Stelle" censor handstamp, British "4¼d" due handstamp applied on arrival, backstamped London arrival marking of Feb. 20, Very Fine.
Estimate $300 - 400.
This is a very scarce censor's marking found on mail for only two weeks at Versailles and as per regulations all mail was to be sent unsealed to help facilitate censorship.
Lot 4188Balance of the B.D. Forster Collection of Ballon Montés, the balance is housed in three old-time Godden style leather albums with boxed slipcases, the most of the covers are mounted on beautiful hand done pages in pen and ink, represented are 51 Ballon Montés plus a few miscellaneous ephemera items, the covers were sent on a wide variety of flights including La Ville de Florence, L'Armand Barbès, Non Dénommé No2, Le Jean Bart No1, Le Victor Hugo, Le Vauban, Le Colonel Charras, Le Fulton, Le Ferdinand Flocon, La Gironde, Le Daguerre, Le Général Ulrich, Le Franklin, L'Armée de Bretagne, Le Général Renault, La Ville de Paris, Le Parmentier, Le Davy, Le Lavoisier, La Délivrance, Le Tourville, Le Bayard, Le Duquesne, Le Gambetta, Le Vaucanson, Le Général Bourbaki, some printed Letter Journals are present including Gazette des Absents and one or two Ballon-Poste, destinations are mainly within France, however there a number to England, Belgium & Switzerland, some slight defects and one or two with stamps added or missing, however the overall quality is quite good and the collection should be inspected to truly appreciate the value.
Estimate $3,000 - 4,000.