Friday, January 13, 2006

Postal Cards Posted from Remich on March 15, 1881 to Bermuda and Madeira!

Today I was thinking about why there is a paucity of classic Luxembourg postal cards used to non-European destinations. Consider the following.

The classic period begins, of course, in September 1870 with the first formular card [Prifix I, Ia & Ib]. It ends, in my view, with the last of the twelve Coat of Arms issues [Prifix No. 39-42] in 1880 and 1881. In 1874, the government authorized Pierre Bruck, the local printer and newspaper editor, to print the Grand Duchy's first postal cards, a five-centime and a six-centime card [Prifix No. 1 & 2], each in a quantity of 3,000. Only six years later, after eleven successive Coat of Arms issues--all of which appeared in small printings and were produced using type hand-set in Bruck's printing shop--the government contracted with Enschede in Holland to print 430,000 five-centime cards and 380,000 ten-centime cards for a country whose population at the time was only about 200,000. The five-centime card paid the domestic postal card rate; the ten-centime card paid the UPU rate as well as the special rates to neighboring Belgium, France and Germany.

Uses of the first eleven Coat of Arms issues [Prifix No. 1-38] to non-European destinations are great rarities. Many of these cards were purchased by collectors and never used; most of the others were used domestically or to Luxembourg's three neighboring countries as the Grand Duchy had not yet become the cosmopolitan country it is today. In fact, Luxembourg-Ville, the capital and largest city, in 1880 had a population of only about 20,000. This situation changes dramatically, however, with Enschede's mass production of the ten-centime card for the twelth Coat of Arms issue [Prifix No. 40] and the concurrent increase in the use of postal stationery in Luxembourg and throughout Europe. (In contrast, Enschede printed only 2,000 of the 10c+10c double card [Prifix No. 42], making any postal use of the double card, which the UPU apparently required each country to issue, a rarity!)

So, as I was perusing a new acquisition, No. 40 used to Madeira, I noticed that it had been posted from Remich, a small wine-making town on the Luxembourgish Moselle, on March 15, 1881. Something seemed faintly familiar about this card. First, I thought it was the destination, but when I checked my collection, my only other use to Madeira was on a later-issued Allegory card. Then, upon reviewing the examples in my classic postal stationery exhibit, I discovered that I had a much-prized use to Bermuda (purchased many years ago) that had been posted on the same date from Remich! And upon examining the messages on these cards, I immediately noticed that they had been written by the same writer.

Here is the card to Bermuda that I acquired many years ago.

It's addressed to the General Postmaster of Bermuda Islands, Esq., at Hamilton, Bermuda Islands America via Southhampton from Remich on March 15, 1881, and on the back shows a London transit,
March 17th, and a Hamilton, Bermuda receiver on April 13, 1881. The message, written in English, reads:

Metz, Germany, Europe
Place de Chambre 15
March 9th, 1881


You would do me a great favour, if you had the friendship, to give this post-card to an officer of the post or any other gentleman having a collection of post-stamps.

This gentlemen would oblige me very much by sending me in exchange a post-card of Bermuda Islands. In case, that he should like to exchange post-stamps of Germany, Barvaria, Wurtemburg, Luxemburg, France or other European states against the stamps of his country or the neighbourhood, I beg him to note on the card those stamps he likes to have.

Believing German post-cards not rare at Hamilton I took a post-card of the neighbouring Grand Duche Dom of Luxemburg.

With the greatest respect

F. Enneicevus
Captain of the 29th Regiment of Infantry

The newly arrived card seen below was sent by the same writer to the Postmaster at Funchal, Madeira, Africa via Lissabon, from Remich on March 15, 1881, transited at Avricourt in Paris and thereafter in Lisbon on March 21st, arriving in Funchal on April 25, 1881 [backstamp]. The message, this time written in Portuguese, is similar in content to the message on the card to Bermuda.

What we do not know is whether the German army captain wrote cards on that March day in 1881 in Remich to postmasters general in any other countries. Are there still surviving out there cards to St. Pierre & Miquelon or, perhaps, Guatemala? Gee, if only these cards could talk!

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