The local postage rate
The particular case of the
additional rural decime.
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
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
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
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)
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
We can say that before this date, the Postal District of SECLIN was
also its Rural Districts because, there was only one post office ;
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
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
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
and thus save 10 c for the recipient.To note, that before
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
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
rural Décime used correctly.
From LILLE to PONT-A-MARCQ. This rural village depends on the post
office of SECLIN (opened in February 1830) which depends
the full service office of LILLE. This letter thus circulates between 2
rural sub-districts and is bound for a rural village without
office. The additional rural Decime is used correctly. The print of the
stamp is in black for a rural delivery.
Letter posted in AVESNES for EPPES SAUVAGE. This village
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.
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.
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
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
and the error was corrected with a feather pen.
Letter put in the mailbox of the village of BERMERAIN (letter-stamp K)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
SOLESMES encountered.The rural decime has nevertheless unproperly been
use of the additional rura Decime handstamp.
additional rural Decime handstamp was sometimes used for
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
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
District, certain "local experiments" could pass unperceived to the
eyes of the Administration.
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
Letter posted in the village of AIBES (letter-stamp C) bound for
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.