Paquebot - Steamer's Letter Box
輪船 (信箱) 封

A boat mail from Shanghai to U.S. CIP 10c canceled by Shanghai Pa Kua and "From Steamer's Letter Box" chop. Also marked with a violet "Missent to Dow City, Iowa" stamp.

On the back dispatching Shanghai Bilingual dater of June 3, transit Shanghai I.J.P.O. CDS of June 4. Receiving / forwarding Dow City CDS of July 2. Arrival Dows CDS of July 3, 1907.

Postcard mailed on board a ship from China to Hong Kong. CIP 4c cancelled by Hong Kong - Victoria CDS of Feb. 9, 1910. Transit Shanghai Bilingual Dater of Feb. 16 and arrival Peking Bilingual Dater of Feb. 19, 1910. Rectangular framed PAQUEBOT ( Hong Kong type C )mark.


"Mail matters affixed with postage stamps of China and cancelled by a postmark of foreign country are mainly of those letters sent by passengers on board a ship. Under stipulations in the Convention of the Universal Postal Union, all these stamps on mail matters should be cancelled by the postal officer with a postal dater on the same ship or by an agent of the ship. If no such postal officer or agent is on board the ship, these mail matters accepted on board should have to hand over to the cancellations made by the post officer of the port concerned, the said mail matters must be put on a 'PAQUEBOT' mark."

Extracted from A Concise Catalogue of Postal Cancellation of China (1872 - 1949) by Paul Ke-Shing Chang, page 738.

The use of official mark to denote mail matter posted at sea was regulated by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). The first rules were drawn up at the Congresses of Vienna 1891 while the first mention of the word "Paquebot" came in the Congresses of Washington 1897. The clause stated: "The Post Office which receives correspondence posted on board, provides same with its common datestamp, adding handwritten or by a stamp the word Paquebot." According to internaional agreement, if you are on the high seas, the deck you are standing on is the territory of the country under which flag the ship sails. If you write a letter on the ship's deck, you should be able to use the stamp of the country under which the ship sails. The letter would be handed over to the officer on board who would then turn them over to the postal authorities at the next port of call. That means, if a ship enters a harbor, the officer should be able to hand over the mail to the local post office at that harbor, and the mail should be delivered without additional charges.