domingo, 3 de octubre de 2021


Dexter Mattoon
from Mexicana, Journal of MEPSI, April 2002
Compiled by Jaime Benavides


The "Third Period", 1875 to 1885, is often referred to as the "Seven Year Gap" by collectors and is a time of transition in the Mexican postal system and Wells Fargo Express's relationship with that system. Until this period, Wells Fargo had ignored the Mexican postal authority whenever they could and hadn't place Mexican postage on their mail except when necessary. In 1878, Mexico and the United States joined the U.P.U., and the use of U.S. postage in Mexico was not recognized as valid by all the participating members. Thus, with determination, the Mexican postal officials began to enda the abuse of the Mexican postal system by Wells Fargo. This started with WF discontinuing the use of U.S. postal stationery in Mexico and the introduction of evelopes without embossed stamps and with a nes WF frank. These franks, at first, maintained the same wording as the old franks but with a new "shield" shape (Figure 4). When used in Mexico, only Mexican adhesive postage was applied. When the envelopes crossed the border to the U.S. and were placed into the U.S. postal system by WF, additional U.S. Postage was added. In many cases, these envelopes were used like stamps themselves and attached to another envelope, containing a letter, which was addressed. Collectors refer to these envelopes as "Paste Ups". The Mexican adhesive found on these covers include the 1874-83 Hidalgo, 1879-83 Juarez, 1882-83 Small Numeral and the 1884-85 Medallion Hidalgo.

Figure 4.- Late usage of an early type "Third Period" cover from Mexico to San Francisco with a blue WF "MEXICAN ROUTE"
cancel over a 5-centavos orange Juarez with "MAZATLAN" and "2782" black overprints and a black WF Gaymas cancel,
indicating that the cover traveled over the Sonoran Railroad to the Southern Pacific Railroad to San Francisco in a WF mail pouch

At the beginning of this period, the WF office in Yuma, A.T., became a transfer point for Mexican cosatal mail after arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1877, and at about this time, Wells Fargo began showing a renewed interest in their Mexican Coastal operation. In 1879 the port towns of San Blas and Manzanillo were added to their list of office. By 1881, after the arrival of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroadas an the start of construction of the Mexican Central Railroad, the WF office in El Paso, Texas, began handling freight and mail to and from the interior of Mexico. With the arrival of the Mexican Central Railroad at the city of Chihuahua in Chihuahua, Mexico, WF route agents and messengers were based there around 1882 to establish relationships with American and foreign mining and lumber interests. At this time the Tucso, A.T., office was also handling goods and mail that went and came from the Cananea and Nazocari mining districts and surrounding Mexican towns. Route agents were assigned to pick up mail from Sonoran mines located around Torres, Magdalena and Hermosillo during the construction of the Sonoran Railroad from Guaymas to Nogales that was started in 1880 and finished in 1882. This renewed interest was brought about by the espansion of mining inestments and the desire of railroad companies in the United States to find the shortest and fastest route to the Pacific coast and Mexico City from the Eastern states.

In 1869, the first U.S. transcontinental railroad was completed, and Wells Fargo had missed the opportunity of establishing a rail express business with the Union and Central Pacific railroads. Lloyd Tevis was a major stockholder of the Central Pacific and controlled the Pacific Union Espress Co. that held its mail contracts. Wells Fargo needed those contracts to maintain its monopoly in the west and paid one third of its capital sotck to Lloyd Tevis to gain control ever the Pacific Union Express Company and its mail contracts. Early in 1872, Lloyd Tevis became President of Wells Fargo and moved its headquarters fromo New York to San Francisco. He remained the president of Wells Fargo for the next twenty years.

In 1877, C.P. Huntington controlled the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) and was determined to control the southern route to the East Coast from California. His main rival, the Santa Fe Railroad (SF), had won the battle over Raton Pass from the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) and after reaching Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico Territory, had headed for El Paso, Texas, with plans to begin construction of the Mexican Central Railroad system. Even more alarming to the SP was the SF-planned railroad expansion to Guaymas, Mexico, via Arizona Territory. General William J. Palmer, builder of the D&RG, was now forced to enter Mexico over the lines of the Texas and Oacific Railroad, which had reached Laredo, Texas, in 1880. This would create the shortest route from the eastern U.S. cities to the Mexican capital. The Nickerson's (Thomas, Joseph and Frederick) who controlled the SF (Thomas Nickersen was president of the Mexican Central Railway from 1880 to 1884) bought the concession rights of the bankrupt Atlantic and Pacific Railroad from Albuquerque to California, which put them on their way across northern Qrizona Territory toward a crossing on the colorado River known as The Needles. They had also started laying track from San Diego toward Basrtow, California. Later in 1898, the SF would trade 81-year lease agreements for the Sonoran Railway, that was completed to Guaymas, for the SP's Needles-Mojave line and create a transcontinental railroad system of its own. Not to be outdone, the SP had extended its southern route to Yuma in 1877 and across Arizona Territory to Tucson in 1878, then continued across New Mexico Territory to El Paso, Texas, in 1881 to merge with the Galveston, Harrisburg and San antonio (GH&SA) railroad, which extended the line to San Antonio, Texas, and then on the New Orleans. On February 5, 1883, th Sunset Route between New Orleans and San Francisco began. On the way, a 35-mile spur to Eagle Pass and a bridge over the Rio Grande River to Mexico were built in 1882. Wells Fargo Express would not be late to the parade of railway system pooised to enter Mexico this time.

Figure 5.- The last type of  "Third Period" cover from Mexico to San Francisco with a violete WF San Blas oval cancel
and a red WF San Francisco oval receiving cancel dated April 16 1884. This cover was probably carried directly by the ship to San Francisco

Mexico was on the move too. Porfirio Díaz had become President in 1876 and the new wave of the foreign investors belived Diaz could hold Mexico together. Money flowed into Mexico and with it came industrialization. During the previous federal government, under President Lerdo de Tejada, many proposals and grants had been made and issued regarding railroads from Mexico City to the United States border. Most all of these met financial difficulty and were repeteadly reissued to new Mexican investors. Under Díaz, these grants would be reissued to American railroad investment companies; and, during the early 1880's, building of railroads from the United States into Mexico began earnest.

Very late in 1882 or early in 1883, Wells Fargo introduced new franks into  their Mexican operations by adding "scrolls" on each side of the shield. These were the last franks issued during the "Third Period" and were green in color. They also had a major change in wording. Gone was the title "WELLS, FARGO & CO'S EXPRESS" and "CALIFORNIA & MEXICAN OCAST ROUTES" and in their place were the words "EXPRESS DE WELLS FARGO Y Ca" and "FRANCO EN LA" at the center and "REPUBLICA MEXICANA" at the bottom. This new frank indicates Wells Fargo's willingness to reach some kind of an agreement and contract with the Mexican Federal postal system. Sometime between this last Third Period issuance and the beginning of the ise of Mexican Postsal stationery, a contract between Mexico and Wells Fargo must have been signed.

The Thir Period ends with the signing of the Express Mail and Transportation of Goods Agreement between Wells Fargo's newly reformed Mexico division. Wells Fargo y Cia. and the Mexcian Postal authority, and with the introduction of Mexican postal stationery with embossed stamps for express mail use in Mexico. The Thidr Period, along with the First and Second Periods, has limited existing WF material to evaluate and presents a challenge to those who collect it.

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