Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Comment on Post-WWII Airmail Covers to Asia

Airmail covers from Luxembourg to Asian and Oceanian destinations during the early post-WWII period are remarkably scarce. They are a delight for the rate enthusiast as until May 1, 1996, rates were calculated by adding a country-specific airmail surcharge to the UPU letter rate. Thereafter, the airmail surcharge was simplified by splitting it into just two categories: one for airmail to Africa, the Near and Middle East, Central Asia, and North and Central America; another for South America, the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania.

The cover shown here was sent from Luxembourg-Ville, March 29, 1958, to Bangkok, Thailand [routed in pencil Via Amsterdam 7-4-58] . At the time, the 20 g UPU letter rate was 4 francs and the airmail supplement per 5 g was 5 francs. Thus, the franking with 6-franc and 3-franc Vianden Castle airmails exactly pays the total charge of 9 francs.

From 1945 through the 1960s, the UPU 20 g letter rate increased from 3.50 francs to 6 francs in three steps; the 5 g airmail supplement to Siam [later referred to in the postal tariffs as Thailand] first increased from 5 to 7 francs, dropped down to 6 francs, again increased to 7 francs, and then levelled out at 5 francs until July 1, 1971, when it decreased to 3 francs. An extended correspondence over this 25-year period would be sure to include many interesting combinations of UPU rates and the airmail supplements specific to Thailand.

Luxembourg's airmail rates were meticulously researched by Fernand Hoffkamp and have been compiled, along with other rates, in Tarife der Briefpost in Luxemburg 1852-2002, co-authored by Hoffkamp with Dieter Basien. This fine rate book is an indispensible research tool and still available from the Luxembourg P&T.

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