Arago: Free Franked & Official Covers

Free Franked & Official Covers

Free Frank cover


This free frank cover bears a red, circular, "free" Washington, DC, postmark dated May 27 [1850]. It also bears the signature of Elisha Whittlesey, who served as comptroller of the Washington National Monument Society. The society had been approved by a joint resolution of Congress on January 31, 1848, to erect the Washington Monument and enjoyed free franking privileges. A handwritten notation — "Public Business" — appears on the upper left corner, and the addressee is the International Order of Odd Fellows, Encampment 37, Norristown, Pennsylvania. The cover's enclosure, an 1850 certificate, bears facsimile signatures of the officers and managers of the Washington National Monument Society of 1850, including President Zachary Taylor.

John Marshall and James Madison formed the Washington National Monument Society in 1833 to raise funds for the monument's design and construction. These certificates were given to anyone who donated money for the monument. Guidelines restricted donations to one dollar per year, and there is more than one certificate type known.

Monument construction began in 1848, but political turmoil preceding the Civil War forced its suspension in 1856. Construction resumed in 1876, at which time the design was altered. The new design eliminated the circular colonnade that would have supported a statue of Washington in a chariot.

May 27
hand cancel circle red with "FREE" on top of circle "WASHINGTON; D.C.; MAY; 27", hand franked in black ink "E. Whittlesey; Compt", in upper left corner hand written in black ink "Public Business"
paper; ink
Height x Width: 3 1/8 x 6 in. (7.94 x 15.24 cm)
Museum ID:
Place of Origin:
Washington, District of Columbia
Place of Destination:
Norristown, Pennsylvania

  • Free Frank Cover
  • Free Frank cover
Additional Records
  • Free Frank cover
  • Free Frank cover
  • Free Frank cover
  • Free Frank cover
  • Free Frank cover from England signed by the Earl of Dartmouth
  • Free Frank front from England, with a Sunday postmark
  • Free Frank partial folded cover
  • James F. Simmons free frank cover
  • John C. Calhoun free frank cover
  • Military Civil War Free Frank cover
  • Nathanael Greene free frank on Valley Forge cover
  • Official Business cover

1 2 3 4