Postage Stamps and Postal History of The Confederate States - Confederate Postage - Provisional Stamps

Provisional Stamps

During the five months between the US Post office's withdrawal of services from the seceded states and the first issue of Confederate postage stamps, postmasters throughout the Confederacy used temporary substitutes for postal payment. Postmasters had to improvise and used various methods to apply confirmation of postage to mailed covers, ranging from the creation of their own adhesive postage stamps to the marking of letters with either rate-altered hand-stamps or the manuscript indication “Paid.” The improvised stamps and pre-paid covers are known to collectors as 'Postmaster Provisionals', so-called because they were used 'provisionally' until the first Confederate general postage stamp issues appeared. Some Confederate post offices would subsequently experience shortages in postage stamps and would revert to the use of Provisional stamps and hand-stamps. There are many dozens of types of Provisional stamps and hand-stamps from different towns and cities about the Confederacy. In some circles, Postmaster Provisionals are referred to as 'locals' since they were intended only for use from the town in which they were issued.

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