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General Philatelic/Gen. Discussion : Early airmail postal history and stamps

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Bobstamp
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05 Mar 2018
03:21:00pm
When I was six years old, my father arranged for a neighbour who owned a Piper Cub to take my sister, Helen, and me on a ride over our home town, Savona, in Upstate New York. It was our first flight:

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And here’s an FDC franked with a U.S. stamp commemorating the designer of the Piper Cub, William Piper:

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Ever since my first flight, I’ve rarely turned down a chance to fly, even after a plane I was flying in crashed in 1962 in New Mexico’s Black Range mountains. It’s not surprising that I turned to topical stamps and covers when I resumed stamp collecting in the early 1980s. I especially learned to appreciate airmail stamps and covers, which so often feature aviation-related stamps, etiquettes, postmarks and cachets.

The cover below is the oldest one in my collection. It was postmarked on June 1, 1918, just 16 days after the inauguration of official airmail flights in the United States. I have no idea if the rate paid is correct for international airmail to Canada — postage rates aren't my forte.

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These first American airmail flights flew between Washington and New York City, with a stop in Philadelphia. My cover was backstamped in Philadelphia and at its destination, Riverside, New Brunswick. I don't know why it wasn't backstamped in New York City.

Bob






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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
05 Mar 2018
07:57:59pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

I'm on a board for car guys, mostly in our age group and crass old dudes. They'll tell you that they stopped making cars in 1973 and anyone who drives an automatic is a pansy.

So the discussion was on self driving cars. Most of these guys agreed that we'd never see these cars replace regular cars in our lifetime. They seem to ignore that these cars already exist.

That got me thinking about aviation...

Wright Brothers first flight was December 17, 1903 and things moved rapidly. The first official American airmail delivery was made on September 23, 1911, by pilot Earle Ovington under the authority of the United States Post Office Department, seven years later.
On January 1, 1914, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line became the world's first scheduled passenger airline service, operating between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida.

All of this was accomplished in TEN years. Without super computers or modern materials, just man and mechanical equipment, back when Model Ts were still the "bee's knees"!

So I just laugh at my car friends. Before they know it they'll be back seat passengers in a self driving car!

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musicman
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05 Mar 2018
08:28:29pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

...how long until we have pilot-less air transport?

After all, we already have 'drones'!


just food for thought/discussion.....!

Maybe they could deliver the mail that way!

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sleepy
06 Mar 2018
01:40:57pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Drones delivering mail ?

Rolling On The Floor Laughing

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musicman
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06 Mar 2018
10:20:30pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Sure!

Why not?

Look at all the things we made fun of in years gone by,

only to see them actually happen in later years.

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Bujutsu
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07 Mar 2018
11:58:46am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Yes, why not. I have heard it said that 'if it can be perceived in the mind, it can be possible in actuality'.

Chimo

Bujutsu

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roy
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07 Mar 2018
02:01:45pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

You guys are missing the irony implied in sleepy's post!

Roy

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is complicity.
07 Mar 2018
03:55:06pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Yes, the "double entendre."

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
pigdoc
07 Mar 2018
04:01:00pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Offtopic:
Question is, is sleepy a beekeeper?

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cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is complicity.
09 Mar 2018
01:11:48am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Or a subbookkeepper.

A favorite word I just wanted to see in print.

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
sleepy
10 Mar 2018
10:58:57am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

No,I don't keep bees. I slap 'em if they sting and eat the honey.

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Bobstamp
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10 Mar 2018
08:01:37pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

And now, could we get back to the original reason for this thread? I'd really like to see other airmail covers and learn their stories.

Bob

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pigdoc
11 Mar 2018
04:21:43pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Sorry Bob.

To repent, here you go:

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This is a very recent acquisition to my Clipper mail collection. It's a first-flight philatelic cover for FAM-22, but the interesting aspect (to me) is the dates. This cover made the entire trip - Miami; San Juan, PR; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago; Belem, Brazil; Natal, Brazil; Bathurst, Gambia; Lagos, Nigeria; and Leopoldville, Congo. All that way in just 6+ days! By the way, that trip was 197 flying hours for the round trip, just 3 hours short of the mandatory 200-hour service interval on the airplane.

The inaugural flight of FAM-22 was by a Boeing 314-A, Capetown Clipper, NC18612 piloted by William Masland. NC18612 was the twelfth and last Boeing Clipper built. Of course, it is notable that the interval between posting and receipt included the Pearl Harbor attack. The first flight crossed the Atlantic on December 9. I must presume that the penciled note on the backside is by the recipient (who was probably also the sender): "red 2-10-42" indicates when this cover was received, back in Windham, CT. Interesting that much of the mail returning with this item was censored in Havana, on or around February 13, 1942. Unsealed philatelic covers were allowed to bypass the censoring process, but this cover was obviously sealed - a bit of ink from the backstamp is on the flap. This item would have been delivered to New York on the return trip of the Capetown Clipper, on January 17, 1942

Very soon after this inaugural flight, this run stopped going to Leopoldville, but instead terminated at Calcutta, the easternmost port considered safe from Japanese attack, eventually becoming known as the "Cannonball Run" for its importance to the war effort.

This one FAM, alone, could be the subject of an extensive postal history exhibit.

Ken Lawrence did a very informative two-part series in the American Philatelist on this FAM:
Part I: https://stamps.org/userfiles/file/AP/feature/Feature_01_15.pdf
Part II: http://digital.ipcprintservices.com/publication/?i=241954&article_id=1905659
plus: http://digital.ipcprintservices.com/publication/?i=191786&article_id=1607496

And, here is an interesting and informative site on the Boeing 314 Clippers:
http://rbogash.com/B314.html

-Paul

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pigdoc
11 Mar 2018
04:31:34pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

And another:

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Also a recent acquisition, today in fact. Paid 5 quid for it.
This isn't really a collecting area for me, but it was an item I grabbed to spread out shipping costs. Couldn't resist at that price!
Illustrates that crayon cross that was applied to Registered letters in the British Commonwealth.

-Paul

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pigdoc
11 Mar 2018
04:53:49pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

And finally, one more:

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Yet another philatelic cover, commemorating the first regular airmail service between England and Australia, by QEA, the alliance between QANTAS (Queensland And Northern Territory Air Services, Ltd.) and Empire Airways, 1934.

First departure from London was December 10, and the backstamp indicates that the passage to Brisbane consumed 11 days.

One has to admire the logistical planning prowess of these organizers, no less daunting perhaps than the 1969 moonshot.

This collecting area of postal history is not as well represented as the Pan Am Clippers, but at least as interesting...

-Paul

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
11 Mar 2018
09:10:02pm

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re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Pig, seldom see multiple AMSDs on a single cover, and I've never seen both CE1 and 2 together.

Nice, too, that that it made it at that late juncture.

Nice cover, for sure

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"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

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pigdoc
13 Mar 2018
03:40:25pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Well, I'm not that excited about the FAM-22 cover. Here's an excerpt from Ken Lawrence's article linked in the original posting:

"The Clipper’s pilot, Captain William M. Masland, was
not happy that his load included souvenirs for collectors —
thousands of covers that collectors had sent to Pan Am for
servicing at each stop along the way. He wrote in his memoir:
We put out of New York with a few passengers and a
cargo of, guess what? First-flight letters, empty envelopes
(so the New York office said) covered with stamps to be
canceled at every stop for the benefit of stamp collectors. I
knew what they desperately needed in Africa. At Bathurst
Lady Hartshorn had told me: pins, needles, matches, and
soap, not first-flight covers. If you have a philatelist for
a president, you must take the good with the bad. But it
made me sick."

For one thing, my cover is missing a whole bunch of receiver cancels that would make it much more interesting. For another, it's not a cover that contained crucial communication. But, again, the postal history of just this one FAM route is incredibly rich and extremely complex, as anyone can appreciate from reading the articles that I linked to...

Pan Am's interdependence with the US government, including the POD and the Department of the Navy could easily fill a book with intrigue. The US government essentially sustained Pan Am, through probably illegal contracts to carry the mails. Pan Am received about 8X the revenue from carrying mail as from carrying passengers, pound for pound, earning about 40 dollars a pound for carrying mail from the US to China. The total revenues reach into the tens of $millions over the life of the clippers...But, again the logistical achievement in making these voyages, regardless of how they were financed, is truly awesome.

Thanks,
Paul

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
13 Mar 2018
08:13:50pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

I agree about the first flight covers. I've been trying to collect the early US airmail stamps on cover. I've been avoiding philatelic covers, hoping to populate my album with honest mail! Not being all that successful!

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Bobstamp
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15 Mar 2018
04:49:38pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Thanks to Pigdoc for returning this thread to its topic. I am really impressed by that PanAm cover, and fascinated by the pilot's comment about the first flight covers.

I can't but agree with Tom's post about the desirability of postally used covers as opposed to philatelic ones. That why this cover appeals to me so much:

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I bought the cover on eBay; the seller told me that the recipient in La Jolla was his mother. While I wouldn't mind having a philatelic FDC representing the same flight, I would give this one a place of honour in my collection.

Bob

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pigdoc
15 Mar 2018
05:28:39pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Oh, that's a BEAUT, Bob!

I love the winged stamp on it! And, its connection to the railroads makes it a TWOFER.

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
15 Mar 2018
06:39:45pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Bob's post somehow reminded me of this cover, although 8 years later, it's a west to east night flight...

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San Francisco, California December 31, 1932 at 6:30pm. Not only airmail but special delivery. Loaded into a plane headed east...

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to arrive in Chicago on January 1, 1933 some 15 hours later at 9pm. Does anyone know how long that flight would be in 1932? Yes, this one was in the air during the ringing in of the new year! One of my favorite covers due to that!

And from Chicago it had to go to Philadelphia and arrived in Ardmore, a suburb of Philly on January 2 at 11:30 am. I believe that's 41 hours. Less than 2 days and it landed here...

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And as Bob had mentioned, I like it because it was regular personal mail. I wonder what news it brought?

And the best part? I discovered this while treasure hunting through a big box of nothing covers I had purchased. The people before me just saw this as a damaged old airmail cover... nobody had noticed the significance of it being a New Years cover!

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pigdoc
16 Mar 2018
07:16:20am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Nice picking, Tom!

The Special Delivery is ah, rather *tenuously* tied, don't you agree?
Or, perhaps the postal clerk was just extra careful to not have the cancel obscure the address?

Was "Airmail Field" in Chicago what is now Midway airport?

On the transit time on the first leg, I make it at 21.5 hours. In 1932-33, there would have HAD to be a refueling stop or three between SF and Chi-town. And, I often have wondered about the typical time interval between the actual plane landing and the receiver cancel application. I wouldn't be surprised if it ranged between a half-hour to several hours, depending...And, the receiving PO may have been a bit short-handed on January 1!

Transit time Chicago-Ardmore was 14.5 hours. That leg would also have required a fuel stop or two, I suppose. And, not sure if Bustleton Field was still the Philadelphia terminus in 1933 (as it was in 1918). And, then, Ardmore is about 20 miles southeast of Bustleton...

-Paul



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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
16 Mar 2018
10:33:08am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Quote:

"The Special Delivery is ah, rather *tenuously* tied, don't you agree?
Or, perhaps the postal clerk was just extra careful to not have the cancel obscure the address?"



Hi Paul-
I decided to check it out, so I reached for my "Airmail One" album and couldn't find the cover! I had a few moments of panic until I realized it's in my "Special Delivery" album! Yea!

Yes, I would have reservations about the Special Delivery stamp, but since the cancel is clearly San Francisco I think it's legit. Looking at it directly, the lowest part of the cancel is indeed tied to the cover. So yes the clerk went to great pains to not obscure the address. The stamp is cocked off the edge of the cover and the back of that still has gum on it.

I looked at a bunch of other 1931-3 airmail covers and none of them were cancelled beyond the original cancel. The multiple trip cancels are because it was Special Delivery, and really make the cover!

And as an aside, the cover is smaller than I remembered. It has a purple tissue liner, so it probably held a card. Let's hope it was a birthday card and not a death notice!

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pigdoc
16 Mar 2018
01:08:12pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

HAPPY NEW YEAR!(by Special Delivery)...is the obvious choice!

:-)

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
16 Mar 2018
04:38:45pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Quote:

"HAPPY NEW YEAR!(by Special Delivery)...is the obvious choice!"



But it was delivered on January 2nd, a day late!

The other day I was trolling through some old cards and found a valentine from a man to a woman postmarked on February 15th... kinda blew that one!
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pigdoc
16 Mar 2018
04:51:49pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

B-b-but January 1, 1933 was a SUNDAY!
:-)

-Paul

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pigdoc
16 Mar 2018
04:53:00pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

"Dollar short, and a day late."

Now, THAT would make a really FUN exhibit subject!

See you tomorrow, I hope, Tom.

-Paul

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pigdoc
16 Mar 2018
05:21:19pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Really glad you started this thread, Bob, I'm lovin' it!

Here's one I picked up last week, for $20:

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It's kinda a book-end to the "rolled cover" concept discussed in another thread.
Postmarked December 5, 1941 in Long Island, NY, censored, and then returned to sender due to Suspended Service (Clipper to Germany), received back in NY on July 26, 1942. I'm presuming that the reason service was suspended was that the US had declared war on Germany before the letter was delivered.

Probably not a philatelic cover. Sender and addressee seem to be relatives. No postal markings on the back.

Can anyone translate "Unterregenbach"?
Presumably, the addressee is in Wurttemburg?

This is the kind of juxtaposition with historical events that I crave in an item!

Isn't postal history intriguing?

Enjoy!
-Paul

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doomboy
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16 Mar 2018
09:40:56pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Unterregenbach is the town the letter was destined for. It's a part of Langenburg, which is in the state of Wurttemburg.

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Bobstamp
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16 Mar 2018
11:41:23pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Another cover made undeliverable by the Second World War:

It was posted in Liebertwolkwitz, Germany, a suburb of Leipzig, to a hotel in Kyoto, Japan on December 6, 1941, the day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some members have seen this cover before. I've been a member of Stamporama forever, and have posted images of it in the past. I bought it in an auction here in Vancouver. It's one of those covers that I just had to have; I think that I spent $125 for it.

The front:

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The back:

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The back, inverted (so you don't have to stand on your head):

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As you can see, it made it as far as New York City on March 23, 1942 where it was interned, but not just for the duration of the war. It was backstamped by the foreign registration office in San Francisco in April, 1948, and finally reached Japan, although there is no postmark indicating the date of receipt. (I'm sure that somewhere around here I've got a translation of the Japanese script, but I can't locate it.)

Bob




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pigdoc
17 Mar 2018
10:02:11am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Ya, and double-censored covers are very neat!
When I see them, I give them a careful look.

Clearly, the cover from Germany to Japan was first censored in Germany. One could wonder why one Axis power would censor mail to another Axis power, until you attempt to understand German-Japanese relations in the 1930s and 1940s. Very complicated and hot-and-cold.

And, then, one could wonder why a letter from Germany to Japan would be routed through the USA. A two-ocean route seems a bit tortuous, but I have not studied the alternatives.

Strange that it took almost 4 months to get from Germany to NYC. The US declared war on Germany on December 11, 1941. I wonder if this cover went via Clipper before that date, and then sat in limbo in NYC until it was cancelled in March.

So much mystery!

Thanks for sharing, Bob!
-Paul

-Paul

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Linus
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11 Dec 2018
05:51:16pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

I will share a cover from my collection, a "rerun" on Stamporama like Bob's cover, but perhaps some newer members have not seen it. The photo shown below the cover is the man who flew it and behind him is the plane he flew. It is a philatelic cover in nature, but I like it for the history involved of a famous American, Charles Lindbergh.

Linus

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pigdoc
09 Jan 2019
11:17:46am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

I have been acquiring a fair bit of material documenting South American airmail. The earlier the better! Here's one:
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Posted from Sao Paolo, Brazil on May 19, 1932. This was the day before the scheduled arrival of the northbound flight at Santos, the nearest stop of the Pan American Airways/PANAIR do Brasil regular service, on its way to an overnight stopover in Rio, that evening. The aircraft carrying this item was either a Sikorsky S-38 or a Consolidated Commodore flying boat, of which 4 of each were in service with PANAIR at that time.

There is a nice reference for early Pan Am timetables, here:
PanAm Timetables

PANAIR regular service began on March 2, 1931.

California Fruit Wrapping Mills produced paper wraps for fruit, beginning in 1926; established by the Swedish Fernstrom family, an example of foreign investment in the US. Bocciarelli & Betti was an engineering firm. Makes me wonder if the letter was correspondence exploring the feasibility of acquiring equipment to manufacture fruit packaging materials, or inviting the Fernstroms to invest in Brazil.

This rather modest cover checks a few boxes for me:
- It's not a philatelic cover
- It documents early international airmail service
- It reflects commerce
- It has two neat PAA/PANAIR handstamps.
- It has that neat Santos-Dumont commemorative stamp (C20).

Kinda wish it had an arrival backstamp, but from PanAm's timetables again, it would have arrived in Miami on Thursday evening, May 26.

-Paul

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Linus
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09 Jan 2019
01:52:17pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Nice cancels and markings on that Brazil cover, Paul. Also, thanks for the link to the Pan Am timetables.

From my collection, scanned below, is an Indian airmail cover that I haven't had much luck figuring out how it went by air from India to Paris, France in 1930. There are no postal markings on the back, just a French customs form, as this item went stamp dealer to stamp dealer. Maybe somebody knows?

UPDATE...I received an answer to my question on another forum. Check out this link:

http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/iaw3105.htm

I love the Imperial Airways slogan: "Save Wear and Tear - Go there by Air"

Linus

Image Not Found

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Winedrinker
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09 Jan 2019
02:48:35pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

This is a facsimile of the cinderella stamp used in 1919 depicting the Vickers Vimy bomber G-EAOU (God Elp All Of Us) piloted from England to Australia by Captain Ross Smith. Letters were delivered with this stamp affixed, so it really was the first England to Australia delivery, albeit not an official postal run, but still.

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I have a copy of a book describing this adventure, The Ross Smith England-Australia Flight -- A Postal History, by Col. Leonard H. Smith Jr. (1968) that depicts some murky photos of covers with the above "stamp" affixed. It was a harrowing journey to say the least. Not a lot of airports in 1919 to allow for cavorting around the world in an old World War 1 bomber. A lot of time digging out of mud, etc.

Image Not Found

Eric


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pigdoc
10 Jan 2019
10:33:07am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

We cannot let the Alcock & Brown flight of the Vickers Vimy go without mention! This was the first transatlantic airmail flight, June, 1919. It is commemorated by Newfoundland C2:
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This one is not in my collection...yet. Prices for these stamps vary widely, from the sublime to the absurd. Would really like to own one on cover. Still waiting and watching...

Anyway, there is a very good, very immersive program on a replica of the Alcock & Brown Vimy in a British series, now on youtube:

Britain's Greatest Machines S01E02

Starts 39 minutes in.
And, there are many other videos on youtube of this remarkable machine.

-Paul


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tooler
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10 Jan 2019
04:34:19pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Image Not FoundImage Not Found

In 1928 airmail rate was reduced from 10¢ to 5¢ regardless of distance, as Bob pointed out.

This cover sent from Atlanta, GA. Dec.1 1928 at 4am arrived in New York Dec 2 1928 at 10am.

Does 18 hours sound right?

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roy
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10 Jan 2019
04:48:53pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Quote:

"Does 18 hours sound right?"



30 hours.

Distance : about 800 miles
Average speed : probably about 75mph not counting headwinds
Best anticipated flight time: 11 hours
Average endurance: about 2 hours
plus handling at each end + refueling or hand-over stops (probably 4 or 5)

Sounds about right.

Roy
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tooler
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10 Jan 2019
05:46:10pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Hadn't really thought about it that way roy. I guess 18 hours in 1928 was pretty good.

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
10 Jan 2019
06:27:15pm
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Quote:

"Hadn't really thought about it that way roy. I guess 18 hours in 1928 was pretty good."



2019- 2 seconds via email!



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pigdoc
11 Jan 2019
09:52:07am
re: Early airmail postal history and stamps

Veering this thread back on-topic, today I'll highlight the L.A.T.I. - Linea Aeree Transcontinentali Italiane. LATI was founded on September 11, 1939, in the immediate aftermath of Hitler's Blitzkreig into Poland, and after failed negotiations for technical support with France and Germany. The inaugural flight was made on December 21. The Savoia-Marchetti SM-83 flown on the return flight crashed near Marrakesh. Weekly service was provided until June, 1940, when after declaration of war by Italy on France and Britain, service had to be reduced to monthly crossings. Finally, service was permanently terminated on December 19, 1941 following the entry of the US into the war.

Equipment used were exclusively, Savoia-Marchetti land-based planes.

Here are a couple of covers:
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I don't have this one in-hand yet, so I don't know if it has a backstamp or not. So, I can't establish the date. I did some research on the sender, and the company sold medical supplies (patent medicines and bandages). I found an advertisement in a 1936 German-language Nazi newspaper, Deutsche Morgen, published in Rio. I believe "Verbandstoffabrik" translates to bandage material fabricator. Molinari had a patented plaster cast material.

Image Not Found

I agressively pursued this one, paying the princely sum of $10.98, because the backstamp appears to indicate that it was carried on the last flight.

Enjoy!
-Paul

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