29 februari 2024

An 1877 Rijk’s Waterstaat Dienst Post Card

The postal card shown here was sent February 19, 1877 from Zutphen to Harderwyk (Gld.) to a Mr. H. Portheine. Note the dual spelling of the city Harderwyk and Harderwijk on this card, a not unusual usage during this period. As seen here, there is no postage on the card, because it qualified for free franking according to a law passed on September 22 (!), 1875 (Staatsblad 173).

The Law reads (in translation):

Article 1. For official mail between civil servants and “authorities,” that qualifies for free franking, use can be made now of “open cards,” instead of the previous requirement of letters in closed envelopes or with a wrapper around it.

The law took effect October 1, 1875.

Figure 1: 1877 postage free post card.

The card was used as a means of communicating with a person working at another Rijkswaterstaat office. The Rijkswaterstaat’s role is the practical execution of the public works and water management, including the construction and maintenance of waterways and roads, and –more importantly—flood protection and prevention.

Figure 2: Article 1. of the Law of September 22, 1875.

The card is addressed to the Overseer of the Royal Water Board in Harderwyk with a request that the receiving office: “reply with various blank forms of the Waterlevels and Wind speed/Airpressure in Nijkerk and Elburg. We only have three copies, but need four. Signed, the supervisor.”

Figure 3: Reverse side message.

Since this was something new in 1875, pre-printed post cards that did qualify would often mention that law printed on the front of the card, to make sure the receiver wouldn’t be charged with postage due. Since these cards were often printed in bulk, they were still around in 1877, the time this card was sent.

What is unusual about this particular card is the incorrect date mentioned: Wet van 23 September 1875, instead of the correct date of 22 September. Strangely enough other Rijkswaterstaat post cards, like the one shown in Figure 4, do not show this error.

Figure 4: Rijkswaterstaat postcard with correct “Wet van 22 September 1875” date.

References

  • Portvrijdom en Dienstpost
  • The official cards of Holland, The Philatelic World. Volume 1. 1881
  • W. Ringnalda. Hoofdtrekken van de Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsch Postwezen. Martinus Nijhoff, published 1895

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