27 May 2015

As good as new

Imprecise Address

Here is a letter cover that resisted time. It looks almost like it was mailed a few weeks ago, white and shiny. Actually it was posted late in the afternoon on  Friday 23 July 1937. It was received at the Post Office Stockholm 16 at 3 Ore Square Street  (Malmtorgsgatan 3) and started its journey to far away Portland, Oregon, from there. This was an international letter    - 20 g and the rate was 30 öre. The stamp used is the 30 öre blue Gustaf V, left profile. The blue colour was the correct UPU-colour for international letters of the first weight class which was  - 20 g in metric Sweden.

International  - 20 g letter fee: 30 öre.
1923, 28 November, 30 öre blue Gustaf V left profile. Qty: 20,700,000 (white paper)

The 30 öre blue Gustaf V left profile was issued the first time in November 1923. The paper used then was not as white as the one above, instead the paper was tinted. In October 1925 the rate for international letter  - 20 g was lowered to 25 öre and since Swedish Post was compliant to the UPU-colour a new blue coloured stamp had to be issued with that denomination and the 30 öre blue was withdrawn, also the old red 25 öre Gustaf V left profile had to be withdrawn as well. The 30 öre brown Gustaf V left profile replaced the 30 öre blue for the time being. In July 1936 the rate for international letter  - 20g was again raised to 30 öre and the 30 öre blue Gustaf V left profile made a come back but now printed on white paper. Finally the 30 öre blue was replaced by the Gustaf V right profile type II in April 1940. You can read about the Gustaf V right profile type II - here.

The sender is the incorporated company Nilsson & Blide, they were in the fruit import business and they also imported coffee. It was only wholesale, no retail. In those days they called fruit and coffee colonial merchandise even if Sweden did not have any colonies. Mr. Wilhelm Nilsson and Mr. Ivan Blide founded the company in 1925 and it seemed to have been pretty prosperous.

The letter is addressed to Balfour, Guthrie & Co. That company was a shipping company based on the west coast of U.S. (offices in San Francisco, Tacoma and Portland). It also operated other kind of businesses like a cement plant in Bellingham, Washington.

The letter ended up here: 733 SW Oak Street, Portland, Oregon. In the corner of Park and Oak. (Google Street)

The address on the cover is "Park and Oak Street", what the Swedes meant was the corner of Oak and Park Street. Obviously they did not know the precise address to Balfour, Guthrie & Co. The address should have been 733 SW Oak Street. Maybe there was no need to be precise, the building is still called the Balfour-Guthrie building. It was built in 1913 and represents somewhat of a milestone in the concrete industry. It was the first office building on the American west coast to be constructed with reinforced concrete. Probably with cement from the Bellingham plant . . .   it is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The building looks well kept.

Read more about the building: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/112500

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