Penny Postcard Between US Possessions

The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, Phillippines, and Cuba from Spain on April 11, 1899, pursuant the victory in the Spanish American War. Subsequently, these territories along with Canal Zone and American Samoa became the U.S. Possessions. Though scattered around the world, the Possessions benefited from the same domestic mail rates as the mainland United States, namely 1¢ postcard and 2¢ letter rates.

Displayed below is a picture postcard sent from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Manilla, Phillippines on April 11, 1905, six years to the day after the U.S. obtained these islands. The card was received in Manilla on June 2nd, 1905, and forwarded to San Francisco, California the following day. Finally received on July 11, 1905. The 1¢ franking paid the domestic postcard rate between the Possessions as well as providing free forwarding service.

1905 postcard from Puerto Rico to the Philippines. Magenta receiving mark used by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.

The Possession to Possession connection is neat, but what sets this postcard above the rest is the communication between two US Coast assistant surgeons and the magenta receiving mark.  The card was sent from the assistant surgeon, J.A. Hurley, of the USS Explore which was built in 1904 for the US Coast & Geodetic Survey (USCGS)[1].

“Dear Force, here is where we are now. Pretty, but hot as blazes. Why don’t you write, Hurley”

Message from assistant surgeon J.A. Hurley on a picture postcard from Puerto Rico.

The brief message and plea for correspondence were addressed to J. Neirson Force who was also an assistant surgeon on the USCGS “Fathomer.” [2].  By the time the postcard made it to the Philippines, Dr. Force was reassigned to an office in San Francisco (I believe the notation on the card is C. of Survey, for Care of Survey?). The large circular United States, Sub-Office, San Francisco, Coast and Geodetic Survey receiving strike is not an official USPO postmark instead it is similar to marks hotels and corporations would apply as a service to indicate the mail was received.  Any info or pictures of similar marks would be appreciated.

[1] USC&GS Explorer (1904)

[2] USC&GS Fathomer (1904)

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