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Distribution offices and entrepots in the Post Office Zwolle jurisdiction

The Post Office transported the mail at the rates laid down in the Postal Act, here referred to as postage, exclusively between the post offices themselves. In rural villages, postal services were often poorly organized. Branch offices were only established in the region of Zwolle at Hasselt and Zwartsluis in 1807 and at Hardenberg in 1809. That changed in 1811. From April 1811 mail to and from these places could be delivered to distribution offices.

Our country then fell under the French Empire. The French Instruction Générale sur les Services des Postes of 1810 (Algemeene instructie voor den dienst der brieven posteryen) came into force on 1 April 1811. Articles 387 - 390 contained provisions on the establishment of distribution offices. The distribution offices came under a post office (sometimes more than one) with which they exchanged the mail and paid the postage. Mail was transported between the post office and the distribution offices by messengers.

Entrepots were also established, exchange places for the messengers on different intersecting rides. This is regulated in article 364 - 366 of the Instruction Générale.

Usually the distribution office was not a real office but the postal business was done at someone's home. This person, the distributor, did not receive a salary for this. He was not employed by the Post Office. He only performed simple postal operations.

The distributor made his money by charging his customers a distribution fee. The distribution fee was in principle 1 stuiver (5 cent) for incoming mail and ½ stuiver (2½ cent) for letters to be sent. Sometimes a distributor had agreed on a higher distribution fee. He was allowed to levy an extra fee on letters he delivered at the home of the receipient.

A number of former branch office holders, such as Jan Somer in Zwartsluis (and then his widow, who took over the position), still received a fixed amount per year, because that had been agreed earlier. Often they were not allowed to calculate a distribution fee.

Distribution offices that were established after about 1845, such as Dedemsvaart, were obliged to place a mailbox in which the mail could be thrown free of distribution fee. That reduced the distributor's income.

The distribution fee, bovenport, came on top of the postage, so it was often written on incoming mail, next to the postage. Until 1822 the distributor also noted the sum of postage and distribution fee, the total amount to be collected, on the letter.

Letter from Zwolle to Gramsbergen, 25 August 1820. Handstamp ZWOLLE. Postage to be paid within the jurisdiction, 0 to 15 grams: 2 stuiver, noted in ink. Distribution fee for Hardenberg: 1 stuiver. The distributor noted this wage and the total of 3 stuiver in red chalk.

In 1822, however, it was forbidden to also state the total amount on the letter (Circular 163 article 4).

Letter from Zwolle to Hasselt, 17 March 1823. Handstamp ZWOLLE. Postage to be paid within the jurisdiction, up to 16 wigtjes: 2 stuiver, noted in ink. Distribution fee for Hasselt: 1 stuiver, noted with red chalk. No total amount stated.


Letter from Zwolle to Hardenberg, 4 May 1849. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 4/5 / *, Ø 23 mm in red. Wrongly written on the left "Franco", because the postage was not prepaid. Postage within the jurisdiction, up to 16 wigtjes: 10 cents + distribution fee for Hardenberg: 5 cents = 15 cents, indicated in red chalk. The distributor in Hardenberg noted against the rule of 1822 the total amount.


The distributor had to handle incoming printed matter and incoming and outgoing official mail free of charge. He was allowed to charge a fee for delivery to the addressee's home. For printed matter he was allowed to charge 2 cents delivery fee. Newspapers subscribed to at the post office were classified as printed matter and were exempt from distribution fees. The distributor was allowed to negotiate a fee for home delivery.

Between 1830 and 1838, as a result of the Belgian Revolt, letters for soldiers below the rank of officer, who also enjoyed reduced postage, were exempted from distribution fees (circular 230).

From 19 August 1846 (Circular 365) the distribution fee had to be paid by the addressee for incoming service letters, if the addressee himself did not enjoy free postage.

Letter from the Governor of Overijssel at Zwolle to the Mayor of Dalfsen, 21 May 1831. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 21 / MEI / *, Ø 27 mm in red. The sender enjoyed free postage and no distribution fee was calculated in Dalfsen either.


A distributor was allowed to accept registered documents to be sent. It was not until Circular 384 of 29 July 29 1848 that special resolutions allowed the appointment of distributors to accept, register, and deliver certified documents to the addressee at the distrinution office. After that, several (but not all) distributors were allowed to handle the registered letters.

Until then, the distributor did collect the postage and registration fee, and sent this together with the registered letter to the post office under which his office belonged. Only then did the registration process started. The road from distribution office to post office was therefore in good faith.

Registered letter from Streukel (between Hasselt and Zwolle) via Post Office Zwolle to Raalte, 27 February 1835. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 28/2 / *, Ø 27 mm and ZWOLLE / FRANCO in red. Name of the distribution office HASSELT written on reverse. Rate from one distribution office via the post office to another within the resort, up to 16 wigtjes: 2 x 5 = 10 cents + registration fee 10 cent = 20 cent, indicated on reverse. No distribution fee indicated. The handstamp AANGETEEKEND was placed at Post Office Zwolle. and there the letter was only registered.


The following distribution offices fell under the jurisdiction of Postkantoor Zwolle:

Distribution Office
Also under
< 1826

Nieuwleusen /
De Lichtmis

Wierden *)

*) Wierden first fell under Almelo and Deventer, but from the end of November 1845 under Almelo and Zwolle.

Hardenberg was already an entrepot before 1826, an exchange place for the messengers on Zwolle - Hardenberg and Hardenberg - Ommen. Between 1817 and 1848 Ommen was an entrepot for messengers from Zwolle and Hardenberg. Zwartsluis was this between 1811 and 1830 for messengers from Vollenhove, Blankenham and Kuinre. On 1 January 1848, an entrepot was set up at the distributor in Herberg De Lichtmis near Nieuwleusen, under Postkantoor Meppel, to serve the new distribution office in Dedemsvaart.


Distributors often wrote their village names on the back of the letters.

Letter from Ommen via Post Office Zwolle to Haarlem, 2 April 1843. Semi-circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 2/7 / FRANCO. Name of the distribution office OMMEN written on reverse. Prepaid postage at a distance of 25 to 35 hours, up to 16 wigtjes: 25 cent, indicated on reverse. The distribution fee is only noted on incoming mail.

But not every written place name belongs to a distribution office:

Letter from Kuinre (northwest of Blokzijl) via Postkantoor Zwolle to Schiedam, 12 November 1838. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 13 NOV. / *, Ø 27 mm in red. Village name of KUINRE written on reverse. There is no distribution office recorded for this village. Postage at a distance of 25 to 35 hours, up to 16 wigtjes: 25 cent.

Some distributors have had their own handstamp made after some time.

Letter from Dedemsvaart via Zwolle to The Hague, 13 March 18??. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 13/3 / *, Ø 23 mm in red. On reverse the name handstamp of distribution office DEDEMSVAART in oval, printed in green. Postage at a distance of 20 to 35 hours, up to 16 wigtjes: 25 cent. Handstamp known from 1848.


Letter from Ommen via Post Office Zwolle to Schiedam, 17 June 1848. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 17/6 / *, Ø 23 mm in red. On reverse the straight line name handstamp of distribution office OMMEN. Postage at a distance of 20 to 35 hours, up to 16 wigtjes: 25 cent. Handstamp known from 1846.


Letter from Coevorden in Drenthe via Post Office Zwolle to Paris, 2 October 1845. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 3/10 *, Ø 23 mm in red. On reverse double circle handstamp of distribution office KOEVORDEN. Postage: from the 4th district to the Mons border office, up to 6 grams: 8 décimes + Valenciennes - Paris, distance 100 to 200 km, up to 6 grams: 4 décimes = 12 décimes, paid by the addressee. The distribution fee is only noted on incoming mail. Coevorden did not fall under the jurisdiction of Post Office Zwolle. Handstamp known from 1843.


On 1 September 1 1850, the new Postal Act came into effect. As a result, all distribution offices were closed. Most were converted into sub post offices (hulpkantoren). Civil servants were now appointed (that could be the former distributor) in charge of the sub post office and were called brievengaarder. The distribution wage was abolished, the brievengaarder now received a salary. They were only allowed to charge a fee for deliveries to remote homes. At all sub post offices it was possible to frank letters (to pay the postage in advance).

The sub post offices were given a straight line name handstamp by the Post Office. This had to be printed in black on reverse of the letters. The sub post offices were allowed to cancel the postage stamps issued from 1852 on prepaid letters that were sent within their own delivery circle, within the jurisdiction or to adjacent sub post offices, without intervention of the post office. Later on, the delivery to the railways without the intervention of the post office is added. Circular 639 of 25 January 1865 stipulated that the sub post offices should henceforth place their handstamp on the obverse, in the upper right corner. And according to Circular 658 of 3 November 1865, the postal directors were to promote the use of red stamp ink at the sub post offices.

Letter from Hardenberg via Post Office Zwolle to Liederholthuis near Heino, 18 September 1866. The postage stamp is cancelled with a handstamp FRANCO. Trial circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 18/9 / 5-9 / 66, Ø 20 mm in red. Straight line name handstamp of sub post office HARDENBERG in black, contrary to regulations, this shoud be in red from 3 November 1865. Rate for letters at a distance of up to 30 km, up to 15 wigtjes: 5 cent.

Some sub post offices continued to use their distribution office handstamp.

Letter from Hasselt via Post Office Zwolle to Zutphen, 19 March 1860. Circular datestamp ZWOLLE / 19/3/1860, Ø 26 mm in red. On reverse the italic name handstamp in oval of distribution office HASSELT. Rate for letters at a distance of more than 30 km, up to 15 wigtjes: 10 cent. Handstamp known from 1848.


Last update 27.09.2023 8:50 PM->

Copyright © 2019 - G.L. van Welie FRPSL
Secretary of the Nederlandse Academie voor Filatelie
Representative of the Royal Philatelic Society London for the Netherlands

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