Harmer Stamp Stories: Mexican Express Companies

Although best known for their United States operations, Wells Fargo began printing their own franks on Mexico postal stationery in 1885. With 130 major catalogue listings and many more minor varieties, these envelopes provide a wonderful opportunity to the enterprising collector. No doubt inspired by the success of Wells Fargo, both the Hidalgo Express Company and National Express Company were founded in 1892 to provide rapid service along Mexico’s railroads. A fourth company, the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre & Pacific, existed for just a few years at the turn of the 20th century. All of these companies ceased to exist by the time Mexico’s railroads were nationalized in 1909. In our June 2022 auction we will be offering examples from all four of these companies, just a few of which are illustrated here.
Founded in 1852, Wells, Fargo & Co. began their expansion into Mexico just seven years later. However it was not until 1885 that Wells Fargo began printing their distinctive green frank on Mexico postal stationery. Among the many interesting items we will be offering in June are special handling labels and mixed-frankings with American postage.
The Hidalgo Express Company was founded in 1892 for the transport of express mail along the Hidalgo & Northeastern Railway. Although the same basic frank design was used for all envelopes, varieties abound for specialists in the issue (such as the envelope shown here with an inverted indicia). Service continued until about the end of the century.
The National Express Company was founded in 1893 by the National Railroad Company of Mexico. The issue lends itself to a number of different handstamped overprints, some of which (like the 15c on 10c frank pictured here) are quite rare. As with the other express companies detailed here, the onset of the 20th Century marked the end of service.
The scarcest of the four Mexican express companies, Compania del Rio Grande, Sierra Madre y Pacifico existed from about 1897 to 1905. Only a small handful of covers are recorded with the company’s cornercard handstamped on Mexico postal stationery.
Service ran along what is now known as the Mexico North-Western Railway.