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1862 Fort Shepherd envelope nets $1,600

An envelope mailed from London to Fort Shepherd in January 1862 sold today for $1,600 Cdn. The piece was part of the Gerald Wellburn gold rush collection being auctioned by All Nations Stamp and Coin.

The envelope is addressed: “Mr. James Cooke, Fort Shepherd, near the mouth of Pond [sic] Oreille River in Vicinity of Colville Mines on Columbia River British Columbia North America.” It bears a London postmark of Jan. 2, 1862 as well as Port Townsend, Washington Territory. Unfortunately, the lot did not contain the letter once enclosed.

Fort Shepherd, a Hudson Bay company trading post on the west side of the Columbia River, near its confluence with the Pend d’Oreille, was in business from 1856 to 1870. It burned two years later. It had a colonial post office that opened on July 13, 1865 — 3½ years after this letter was mailed. The intended recipient was the post manager — but a list compiled by the Royal BC Museum only lists him at that job in 1859-60, so it is hard to say if the letter reached him.

The envelope was featured in a recent Vancouver Sun story about the sale of the Wellburn collection.

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