I recently acquired the postal stationery shown above.
This is a TP11, sent from Caracas to Ravensburg, Germany, on April 2, 1898, with an uprate of 10 cents (100%) using a Blanco 62. The piece was received at its destination on April 20th of the same year.
But none of this is what makes this piece special.
What makes it special is the “ULTIMA HORA” postmark (“last minute”) that can be seen in the lower left corner of the PS, above the 10c stamp.
It’s worth noting that this mark is not the same one known as “FUERA DE HORA” (“too late”). The latter was placed in the mailboxes of the railways and used on the letters and PS that were sent in the railways after the regular hours.
The mark “ULTIMA HORA” was used in the postal offices by means of a special service, created ex-profeso, for the letters and PS received after the closing of the postal office, but up to one hour before the dispatch of the mail. It was similar to the “FUERA DE HORA” but it worked according to the closure of a post office instead of the closure of a railway mailbox.
This service was created on 24 December 1896 by a resolution of the Ministry of Development. I will leave a copy of this resolution at the end of the article, but for now I will list the most important points of it:
- It began to operate on January 1, 1897.
- It worked in the capital of the republic.
- The service was called “Última Hora” and was run by the Post Office of the Ministry of Development.
- It only worked for Uncertified Letters and postal stationery addressed to foreign countries.
- Correspondence was deposited directly with the Directorate-General of the Post Office up to one hour before the mail was dispatched.
- If the mail was going to La Guayra on a Sunday or holiday and at times that did not coincide with the departure of the train, the mail was dispatched on foot.
- The cost of the service would be “the same as the corresponding ordinary postage”, i.e. 100 per cent of the ordinary postage.
- It would be paid for by the user in the form of Postage Stamps, affixed separately from the original postage stamps, and would be postmarked with a “ULTIMA HORA” mark.
This explains the beautiful “ULTIMA HORA” mark on the card that is the subject of this article.
If you want to see the full resolution, you can access it by using this link.