Boyd’s City Express Post 

US #20L7 – A Boyd’s Express stamp from 1848.

On June 17, 1844, Boyd’s City Express Post, one of the first local posts in the US, opened in New York City.

John T. Boyd created the post and the initial office was located at 45 William Street, next to Wall Street, in downtown Manhattan.  When he first opened, Boyd offered two deliveries every day – one at 9 a.m. and one at 3 p.m., for 2¢ up to 26th street, 3¢ to Brooklyn, or for free if sending a letter to a newspaper.

US #20L9 – Printed in gold, this stamp was likely made for use on wedding announcements and invitations.

Boyd delivered mail for independent mail companies such as the American Letter Mail Company and Well’s Letter Express, among others.  When he first opened, he advertised that he had 20 collecting stations (most likely mailboxes) for mailers to drop off their letters.  During that first year, Boyd delivered mail from out of town.  But in 1845, an act of Congress prohibited the delivery of mail between cities unless carried out by postal workers or contractors.  In spite of this, Boyd continued to deliver the mail within the city.

US #20LU14 – Boyd’s introduced postal stationery such as this in 1864.

By 1846, other posts had opened in the city and the government’s City Dispatch was losing business and ended up closing.  Three years later, the government made another attempt to offer city delivery and created 25 letter deposit stations with four collections and deliveries every day.  In response, Boyd claimed he had more than 1,000 collection boxes, with one on almost every block below 50th street.

Also in 1849, Boyd took a major step forward by creating die-cut stamps.  Though they cost a little bit more than the regular stamps, they were popular with businesses because the stamps were quicker and easier to separate.

US #20L35 – A Boyd’s stamp from 1877.

As Boyd’s business grew, the government attempted to take control of local delivery again in 1851, with the passage of a new law that declared New York City streets to be postal routes.  Boyd refused to back down and continued to operate his business.

US #20L44 – A Boyd’s stamp from 1878.

After Boyd died in 1859, his 17-year-old son took over the business.  A new postmaster general took office the same year and set out to close down private posts.  He created new locked mailboxes and suggested Congress get rid of the drop letter rate for people that used their post office.  Boyd’s son then reduced his rate to 1¢ for all classes of mail.

However, the following year, Boyd’s son decided to sell the business to William and Mary Blackham.  They reinstated the 2¢ rate but offered a 1¢ rate for letters going to the post office.  The Blackhams focused on the bulk collection and delivery of circulars, bills, notices, and pamphlets.  They also started keeping address lists and produced their first stamped envelopes in 1864.

An example of a Boyd’s stamp on cover.  To satisfy the ever-tightening regulations placed on the express service, Boyd’s covers were required to have a local stamp plus the current US issue satisfying the appropriate rate.

On May 4, 1883, Boyd’s was raided by government officials, but they continued to deliver the mail until 1885.  After that, they turned to creating and selling mailing lists and address labels.

Click here for more Boyd’s stamps as well as other Local stamps.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. just another example of gov’t wrangling control from free enterprise. Does it ever end? Power and & money thats all the mechanisms of gov’t care about.

  2. Now this essay was really interesting ! This is the FRIRST time in my 83 years that I have EVER heard or read ANYTHING about the NYC “Boyd postal service” office !! It is another Mystic history update for me and I appreciate it. Thanks again, Mystic !!

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