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The local postage rate 1830-1878.

The particular case of the additional rural decime.

The rural decime used correctly The uncorrected errors
The corrected errors Diverted use of the additional rural decime handstamp

With the introduction of the rural mail service and until January 1847, a letter circulating between 2 rural sub-districts and posted or bound for a village without post office was charged with an additional tax of 10 c.
The amount of this tax, the additional rural Decime, was fixed and was added to the postage of the letter. This tax was intended to finance the rural mail service.
The print of the additional rural Decime could be in 2 colors; black if the letter was bound for a rural village and red if it was posted in a rural village.
The additional rural Decime seemed logical and justified when the Rural Districts were very distant and did not form part of the same Postal District of a main post office.However, when the local letter was bound for a community located in another Rural Districts of the same Postal District, the price of the postage (postage + rural Decime) became prohibitory.
The ray of a Postal District was approximately ten kilometers: "a rural community could not be delivered directly by the post office on which it depends if it is distant from more than 10 to 12 km...", according to the Post Office regulations.

This distance was at the same time short and long (let us not forget that one generally travelled by foot) and in any case did not justify inevitably with the eyes of the private individuals an additional tax.
A concrete example:

Postal District of the main post office located in  SECLIN in July 1836:
2  rural sub-districts with 1 full main post office (SECLIN),  1 post office station  (PONT-A-MARCQ) and  22 rural municipalities.

July 1st, 1836, a post office station opened in PONT-A-MARCQ. This village made formerly a part of the rural sub-district of the main post office of SECLIN.
We can say that before this date, the Postal District of SECLIN was also its Rural Districts because, there was only one post office ; SECLIN.
Certain communities depending before this date on SECLIN depend in July 1836 on PONT-A-MARCQ. Certain rural villages depending on the main post offices of LILLE and ORCHIES  were also joined to the new rural sub-district of the post office station of PONT-A-MARCQ.

In July 1836, it costed 10 c to send a letter of less than 7,5 g within the Postal District of the post office of SECLIN.
However, certain letters circulating between the rural sub-districts of SECLIN and PONT-A-MARCQ supported an additional tax of 10 c. To be taxed, it was necessary  that these letters were either posted or bound for a locality without post office.
Thus, a letter of less than 7,5 g posted in HOUPLIN towards SECLIN (or conversely) costed in postage due 10 c to its recipient, whereas a letter of SECLIN towards AVELIN cost under the same conditions 20 c; 10 c for postage due and 10 c for additional rural Decime.
Inevitably after July 1st, 1836, the sender preferred in this last case to choose another way than the Post office to deliver his letter.
He could also ask a friend (or do it himself) to post the letter in a village located in  the rural sub-district of PONT-A-MARCQ and thus  save 10 c for the recipient.To note, that before July 1836 and the opening of a post office in PONT-A-MARCQ, a letter posted in AVELIN towards SECLIN would not have been charged with additional rural Decime.
Lastly, it cost only 10 c for the same letter from SECLIN towards PONT-A-MARCQ, because the two localities were provided with a post office.

The rural Décime used correctly.

1836: From LILLE to PONT-A-MARCQ. This rural village depends on the post office of  SECLIN (opened in February 1830) which depends on  the full service office of LILLE. This letter thus circulates between 2 rural sub-districts and is bound for a rural village  without post office. The additional rural Decime is used correctly. The print of the stamp is in black for a rural delivery.

1836: Letter posted in AVESNES for  EPPES SAUVAGE. This village depended on the post office station of TRELON. This post office station depended on the main post office of AVESNES. The additional decime is used correctly because the letter circulated from one to another sub-district of the same postal District and was bound for a rural community without post office.

Without reconsidering the operation of the rural Decime, it appears that the application of this tax was more difficult for the employees who were in charge of this tax. Many times, the Administration react to the complaints of  users concerning abusive taxations.
The post offices were "warned" on several occasions. But apparently, the problems persisted a long time. The additional rural decime ceased in January 1847.

Corrected errors.

1837: The rural decime must be applied to letters circulating between two rural sub-districts and from or towards a rural village with no post office.  However, here, the letter was given to the rural mailman during its delivery in TEMPLEUVE (OR stamp) and was to be sent to BERSEE. These two villages form part of the rural sub-district of the post office of  PONT-A-MARCQ. The rural decime thus did not apply and the error was corrected with a feather pen.  
1840: Letter put in the mailbox of the village of BERMERAIN (letter-stamp K) towards SOLESMES.
The post office employee initially struck on the letter the additional Decime stamp. But, noticing his mistake, he  masked the first strike with the print of the CL stamp. BERMERAIN formed part of the rural district of SOLESMES, the rural decime thus does not apply. 
1839: Letter put in the mailbox of the village of HAUSSY (letter-stamp I) towards SOLESMES. There too, the rural decime had been struck by error and then was masked.It seems that the post office of SOLESMES had some problems of comprehension  for the application or not of the rural decime.

Most of the time, the errors were corrected, because they were often due to carelessness. Indeed, the additional rural decime handstamp resembled very much the Local Delivery handstamp (CL stamp)
Nevertheless, it happened  that certain errors were not corrected thus involving some problem of accountancy for the post offices.
Let us not forget that most of the letters were in postage due, it is the arrival post office which recovered near the recipient the postage and if needed the additional rural Decime.
The local letters was often addressed to civil servants or to men of law who knew the postage rates well and refused to pay more than necessary.
The taxation to be recovered including the rural Decime was noted by advance on accounting records. When a recipient refused rightly to pay the tax of the additional rural Decime because it was badly applied, he could occur 2 things:
- the recipient refused purely and simply the letter which was returned to sender or rejected to the expenses of the post office (because it did not perceive the postage of the letter).
- the recipient refused to pay the additional rural Decime, the mailman noticed the error and then gave the letter nevertheless.
In return to the post office, the accounting records were then to be corrected, because the mailman returned with less money.

Moreover and if the errors were frequent, the recipient could lodge a complaint with the Administration which could "warn" the Director of the post office.
These errors could be also seen on the accounting records which were regularly controlled by the Post Office inspectors.In this case, the Director who was responsible for his accounts had to justify himself.

Nevertheless, it should be known that the Administration was most of the time blind (even if there was an accountancy), because the letters circulated within the rural sub-district of the same office.The post office was then the creator of the tax like his collector.
In the small main offices there was no inspector (whereas there was in largest).
Certain Directors of rural post office or mailmen were tempted to recover the taxes of the letters for themselves and in this case, they were not any more simple errors of tax...
The Administration was very conscious of this facts so it often informed  directors of post offices by memorandums.
Even if controls were finally very few, the revocation of Directors or even of simple civils servant of post offices for embezzlement were numerous.

Uncorrected errors.

1840: Letter written in HASPRES for the priest of the village of ESCARMAIN.
The letter-stamp H does not correspond to the code of the mailbox located in HASPRES which depends on the post office of BOUCHAIN and not SOLESMES.
It seems that the sender wanted to make save 10 c (the rural décime) to the recipient.
He thus posted his letter in SAULZOIR (letter stamps H)  3 km far from HASPRES.
However, it was without counting the difficulties with the additional rural décime  which the employees of the post office of SOLESMES encountered.The rural decime has nevertheless unproperly been applied.

Diverted use of the additional rura Decime handstamp.
The additional rural Decime handstamp  was sometimes used for another utility; as a local postage due handstamp. This use was met for several post offices located in several different Departments.
This use came from "resourcefulness" much more than an instruction, because it was prohibited by the Administration.It recalled with memorendums the Directors several times on the subject.This stamp corresponded to only one function; to show an additional tax and not simply the local postage due of a letter.

We already saw it, some post office made locally manufacture to their expenses a handstamp bearing a "1" to save time  with the taxation of the local letters. So that this expenditure was profitable, it was necessary that the number of letters was sufficiently important and that the rural sub-district of the post office was important.
Certain Directors could have thought that it was not necessary to make manufacture a handstamp "1" and that the rural Decime stamp could effectively replace such a stamp.
Let us recall that the local letters circulated  within a Postal District, certain "local experiments" could pass unperceived to the eyes of the Administration.

1830: Letter in postage due from BAILLEUL to STEENWERCK.
Only the print of the rural decime is present on this letter.
The color code is good, because  black ink means that the letter is bound for a rural village.  
It is the use of the rural decime stamp  which is not correct, because here, it represents simply the local postage and not an additional tax.
1843: Letter posted in the village of AIBES (letter-stamp C) bound for SOLRE-LE- CHATEAU.
There also, the color code is good, because the red ink means that the letter was collected in a rural village.  
It is the use of the rural decime stamp  which is not correct.

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