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United States/Covers & Postmarks : New York City AMF

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Bobstamp
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07 Jul 2021
02:03:14pm
The provenance of this U.S. postcard has raised some questions:

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I'm reasonably certain that it was postmarked on January 30, 1941, at Air Mail Field (A.M.F.) in New York City. Here's an enhanced, hi-res image of the Circle Date Stamp portion of the machine cancellation:

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I think I have found the answer to my questions, "Where was New York City's Air Mail Field located?"
A.M.F. New York City wasn't located in New York City at all, but in Newark, New Jersey. In the 1930s, New York politicians, including Mayor La Guardia, lobbied the federal government to move the A.M.F. to Floyd Bennett Field in the Marine Park neighborhood of southeast Brooklyn in New York City, along the shore of Jamaica Bay. Wikipedia says, "In one well-publicized incident in November 1933, shortly before La Guardia assumed the New York City mayor's office, he refused to get off a plane at Newark Airport because his ticket said that the flight went to New York, and the mayor-elect demanded that the plane be flown to Bennett Field."

Despite my interest in worldwide airmail, especially as it relates to the "mid-century" period (1930's through the early 1960s), I don't know a lot about U.S. domestic airmail practices in this period. Can someone please confirm what I seem to have learned about my cover?

And here's another question: Where was airmail in New York City processed before being put on a plane at Newark? Was it processed in New York City and shipped to Newark, or was it shipped to Newark for processing. Here in Vancouver we have the "New York City Pizzeria," so I supposed that A.M.F. New York City could have been in New Jersey.

Bob



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pigdoc
07 Jul 2021
04:33:46pm
re: New York City AMF

from Wikipedia:

Quote:

"The airport was dedicated on June 26, 1930,[3] and officially opened to commercial flights on May 23, 1931.[4] Despite the exceptional quality of its facilities, Bennett Field never received much commercial traffic, and it was used instead for general aviation. During the interwar period, dozens of aviation records were set by aviators flying to or from Bennett Field.[5]"



During the 1934 "Air Mail Emergency" when carriage of the airmails was taken over by the Army Air Corps from commercial airlines, the HQ for the Eastern Air Mail Zone was officially transferred, on February 15, to the Newark Airport on which had opened on October 1, 1928. I do believe that Newark Airport was in use by the commercial airlines as a terminus before February, 1934. Commercial airlines resumed carriage of the airmails in May, 1934.

Newark Airport is about 16 miles West of Penn Station, the main post office in Manhattan, through the Holland Tunnel, which was opened in November, 1927.

In the earliest days of official airmail, the landing field was at Belmont Park, in Queens. In December, 1919, it was moved 20 miles West to Heller Field, between the Morris Canal and the Passaic River, a couple of miles due North of the current location of Newark Airport.
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Bobstamp
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07 Jul 2021
05:50:21pm
re: New York City AMF

Thanks, Paul. That seems to confirm that Newark Airport was New York City A.M.F.

The question remains: Where was airmail from New York City sorted and cancelled before being loaded onto planes?

And there is this: The postcard in question isn't an airmail postcard, so why was it cancelled at the New York City A.M.F.? A clue may be in the sender's message. The sender was passenger in an American Airlines DC-3, and the postcard was published by American Airlines. The message on this postcard reads,

Believe it or not, but as I write this I am 5,000 feet over Hartford with the park directly below. If I had a parachute I could drop off at your corner. Hope to see you soon. Best to Ma & Pa / Lloyd / Thursday 2:05 PM

And there is this question: Was the postcard transported by air, thus making it an airmailed postcard? My understanding is that stewardesses would collect the postcards at the end of the flight, and the airline would pay for postage and mail them. I'm guessing that the airline had made a deal with the Post Office Department to transport the postcards by air despite the 1-cent postage. Your thoughts?

Bob


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roy
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BuckaCover.com - 80,000 covers priced 60c to $1.50 - Easy browsing 300 categories
07 Jul 2021
09:50:59pm
re: New York City AMF

Quote:

"My understanding is that stewardesses would collect the postcards at the end of the flight, and the airline would pay for postage and mail them."



That makes sense, and that would make this the air equivalent of a ship paquebot treatment, where the letters were collected on board and given by the ship's crew to the next post-office on land, receiving a "paquebot" marking.

The airline crew probably dropped the letter off right at a post office / sorting / cancelling facility right at the airport, thus the AMF cancel, even though the card probably did not go further by air because only 1c was paid.

Roy
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"BuckaCover.com - 80,000 covers priced 60c to $1.50- 7,000 new covers added November 4"

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Bobstamp
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08 Jul 2021
12:56:48pm
re: New York City AMF

I think Roy nailed it!

I had made the mistake of thinking that if mail was cancelled at the New York City Air Mail Field, in Newark, NJ, that meant that it would be flown as airmail to its destination. But, of course, a postcard might be addressed to someone who didn't live anywhere near an a mail plane's destination, so those postcards would have to be put into the regular surface mail stream. And, as Roy says, the one-cent postage would automatically make the postcard ineligible for delivery by air.

And now, back my new web page, about the 1954 crash of a Linee Aeree Italiane DC-6B airliner at Idlewild; I'm going to use the postcard that's the subject of this thread to illustrate one of the ways that airlines encouraged people to fly (giving them free postcards and paying for the postage!). I'll let you know when I've published it. In the meantime, here's another postcard that will be included in my web page. It pictures an LAI DC-6B arriving at New York City at night. Nice, eh?

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Thanks for your interest.

Bob




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roy
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BuckaCover.com - 80,000 covers priced 60c to $1.50 - Easy browsing 300 categories
08 Jul 2021
01:12:58pm
re: New York City AMF

Here is that page from my small collection of airline crash covers (1954 was a bad year)

The data is from the Aviation Safety Board website:

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Roy

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pigdoc
08 Jul 2021
03:36:08pm
re: New York City AMF

Kind of to Bob's proposition that the airlines themselves were seeking to expand the usage of airmail, there is a rich body of material around the Air France initiative. Air France sought to encourage people to send Holiday postcards surcharged at 20% of the regular airmail rate provided that they were posted between December and early January, and contained no more than 5 words of greeting. I have 7 cards in this collection. Here are a couple for your enjoyment.
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The inscription at upper right translates, "Add to the ordinary fee for 5-word cards an air surcharge equal to one fifth of the air surcharge for other items. Consequently this reduced franking is only possible for the countries for which a surcharge has been established for other items."

The illustrator is the famed Herve Baille, who did a number of posters for Air France up into the 1950s. The airplane depicted is the 16-passenger Bloch MB.220, France's answer to the Douglas transports. Its first flight was in 1935 and only 17 were built. Six survived WWII and were re-engined with the Wright Cyclone.

This one was sent from the French colony in Indochina:
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Herve Baille was the illustrator of this one also. It depicts the Dewoitine D.338, a 22-passenger air transport which first flew in 1936. Thirty were built. Aircraft used in the Far East were equipped with 12 luxury seats, including 6 that could be converted into sleeping berths. Talk about flying in style!

To me, these cards are impeccably designed, and are gorgeous collectibles!

-Paul





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Bobstamp
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08 Jul 2021
10:05:45pm
re: New York City AMF

Those are great postcards, Paul. It's a good thing you saw them before I did! Big Grin

Bob

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