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    Pony Express Waybill from St. Joseph, Missouri (July 11, 1861) to San Francisco (July 21, 1861). A very rare waybill carried by a Pony Express rider; the sweat/water stains on the paper are from his Mochila (saddle bags) as he carried this historical document with other Pony Express documents/covers from St. Joseph to San Francisco, as received from the courier on July 11, 1861 at 7:00 am. Rider did not leave until 9:00 am. Note at bottom of waybill: No through Eastern mail last night which accounts for smallness of Mail. Car off track H[annibal] & St. Jo[seph] R.R. Detained Pony till 9 A.M. for it. P. Coburn Agt at St. Jo[seph].

    This is one of two known Pony Express waybills in private hands. There are 100s and 100s of Pony Express covers but this is the only Pony Express waybill in private hands. It is assumed that they were destroyed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, which devastated the Wells Fargo museum. This is dated late for Pony Express, near their demise on October 26, 1861. According to records, there are no covers known for westbound Pony Express trips on July 11, 1861 that left St. Joseph, making this waybill the only item known extant for that trip. Also of interest: Wells Fargo and Company had a display at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. They mention some Pony items on display in a published book California at the Worlds Columbian Exposition 1893. Listed in catalog: "Wells Fargo and Company Historical Exhibit, Etc. at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, listed as item # 107-Pony Express Abstracts, way-bills and statement. Also old-style envelopes and messengers' reports. From the collection of the late messenger, 'Chips'." Chips, (His real name, Pillsbury Hodgkins), was a celebrated Express character of early gold rush mining days, who served with Wells Fargo & Company. He was principally an Express Company messenger; he served them for forty consecutive years, 1852-1892." (Copies included.)

    The purpose of the Pony Express was to provide the fastest mail delivery possible from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Founded by Majors, Russell, and Waddell of the famous Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, they won a million dollar contract from the U. S. government. So in 1860 they started the Pony Express Company. April 3rd, 1860 to October 26th 1861. Using a relay system of horses and 183 riders that rode for the Pony Express during its lifetime. They ran ads in California newspapers looking for riders: "Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." They were paid $100 per month, good money for the time. According to records, the first riders were John Fry from St. Joseph and Billy Hamilton from Sacramento. The Company purchased 400 horses to start; they had 165 Stations, and almost 2000 miles of trails. When they started it was $5 per half ounce; at the end it was $1 per half ounce. Their demise was brought on by the telegraph that was completed cross-country on October 24, 1861. They had spent $700,000 on the Pony Express adventure and had a huge loss of $200,000 at the end. The company also failed to receive the million dollars as promised by the government because of the outbreak of the Civil War. One of the rarest and finest Western Americana items available. Measures approximately 8" x 10".

    Condition: Fine-very fine, light water spotting, mounted on sheet of paper from scrapbook.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    23rd-25th Friday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,380

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