2CF7 American Express Co. Complimentary Frank 1887
In 1850, American Express was started as an express mail business in Buffalo, New York.It was founded as a joint stock corporation by the merger of the express companies owned by Henry Wells (Wells & Company), William G. Fargo (Livingston, Fargo & Company), and John Warren Butterfield (Wells, Butterfield & Company, the successor earlier in 1850 of Butterfield, Wasson & Company).
The express business–transportation of parcels and valuables–was begun in America by William F. Harnden, an employee of Boston & Worcester R.R., who, in 1839, established a “package express” between Boston and New York. After a slow start, the idea caught on and during the following two decades dozens of express company operations were launched along various railroad and steamboat routes, many of which were eventually absorbed by larger outfits like Adams and American. Stamps and labels used by these companies comprised not only money packages, complimentary franks and newspaper stamps, but also prepaid parcel stamps, route (forwarding) labels, and identification labels.