Friday, December 28, 2007
Philately of the German occupation of Luxembourg abounds with postal history not seen during any other period of Luxembourg's philatelic history. In this regard, the registered cover shown here is exemplary for three reasons.
After having been posting at Medernach, the letter had to be registered elsewhere (in this case, the next morning at Larochette [in German: Fels], which was the closest post office with registry service). At the time, Medernach had only the services of a parcel post agency (an agence aux colis), and presumably this agency lacked authority to register letters.
Second, the cancels used at Medernach during the WWII occupation are distinctive. Two types exist -- the one shown with Medernach in Gothic letters, and a similar type but with Medernach in Arabic letters. The German administation never issued its standard, round double circle bridge cancel to Medernach (Type 41), perhaps because Medernach was only a parcel post agency. However, when the cover was registered at Larochette, the German Type 41 cancel of Fels is seen on the cover along with the Fels registry label.
And last, the combination franking of Hindenburg and Luxembourg overprints is interesting in its own right. The date of posting at Medernach, Monday, March 31, 1941, was the last day of validity of the Luxembourg overprints, of which the 10-Rpf. on 40-centime and pair of the 12-Rpf. on 60-centime Charlotte (2nd issue) pay 34 Rpf. postage. The addition of 25 Rpf. in the form of a 15-Rpf. and pair of the 5-Rpf. Hindenburg overprints is puzzling as these stamps continued to be valid through the end of 1941. A first-step registered letter would have required only a 42-Rpf. franking (leaving the cover 17 Rpf. overfranked) and a second-step only a 54-Rpf. franking (leaving the cover overfranked by 5 Rpf.). Perhaps the sender was simple disposing of the Luxembourg overprints, which were about to become invalid, or had philatelic motives. In addition to being postmarked on April 1 at Fels, the cover is backstamped at Luxembourg-Ville the same day, and was received in Berlin, April 3, 1941.
What's your opinion of the postal history significance of this cover?
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Airmail Letter Awaiting Dispatch on May 10, 1940
1.75 F UPU 20 g letter rate + 1.75 F registry fee + 3.50 F airmail surcharge/5 g
From an exhibit-in-progress entitled Luxembourg Postal History During the World War II German Occupation -- May 10, 1940 - September 10, 1944.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Let me ask you, “How should we organize those
We might begin with these categories (and any others you can think of):
Invalid, Dubious & Questionable Uses
Non-postal use of
Reuse of previously used
Type 1 ─ Luxembourg Franking No Longer Valid
T-1 ─ Invalid Use ( 25c 1891 Adolphe): Attempted use of the 25c definitive to pay the 20 g UPU rate on a letter to the United States from Dalheim, April 3, 1911.
T-1 ─ Invalid use (30c Charlotte & 4 Rpf. Hindenburg): Letter posted from Luxembourg-Ville to Rumelange,
T-2 ─ Airmail Use Disallowed: Reply card from a 75c+75c Luxembourg Ècusson double card mailed May 4, 1936, on the special German automobile postal service between Berlin and Leipzig with a blue Luxembourg airmail label and 75c Luxembourg airmail adhesive added purporting to pay supplemental postage for return of the reply card by airmail.
Airmail service (apparently) was not available or offered for return of foreign reply cards, as indicated by the German post office having marked off the adhesive stamp with blue crayon, crossed out the airmail etiquette and indicated no postal value for the adhesive. The 75c
Type 3 ─
Used within Germany
T-3 ─ Illegal Use in Germany: Attempted use of a five-centime 1882 Allegory postal card uprated with a 5-centime 1895 Adolphe definitive to pay postage from Rüttgen to Bad-Kreuznach, Germany, September 23, 1895. At that time, Rüttgen was part of the German Lorraine, on the German side of the border with
The writer dated the card two days earlier at Frisange, a nearby village in
Used within France
T-3 ─ Illegal Use in France: Attempted use of a 35-centime Charlotte definitive to pay postage on a viewcard sent from Thionville to Roubaix, France, August 16, 1933. The Thionville post office marked off the stamp with blue crayon to indicate its invalidity, taxed the card, and applied a pair of French postage due stamps. As the card was refused by the addressee, it was sent to the dead letter office in nearby
T-3 -- Illegal use from Germany to Luxembourg in 1898:
Attempted use of a 10c G.D. Adolphe (1st issue) postal card from Oettingen in the then-German Lorraine, June 4, 1898, to Esch-sur-Alzette via Luxembourg-Gare the next day, taxed 20 centimes, [blue crayon] double the 10c UPU postcard rate.
T-3 ─ Illegal Use to the USA from France: The message discloses that the writer had stopped in Luxembourg on a drive from Wiesbaden, Germany, to Verdun, France. The picture postcard, which shows a night time view of the Adolphe Bridge in Luxembourg-Ville, is franked with a pair of Luxembourg six-franc 1977 Europa stamps, but it was posted from Verdun, France, October 12, 1977, to San Diego, California.
In accordance with 1974 UPU convention regulations for calculating postage due, the Luxembourg stamps were given no value (indicated by "= 0 in red) by the French post office. Postage due was calculated by multiplying the T 100/140 fraction by the US first-step foreign surface rate of 18 cents. This amount (12.86 US cents) was rounded up to 13 cents and a 20-cent handling charge was added, resulting in a postage due charge of 33 cents, as shown by the New York exchange office.
T-3 -- Illegal Use in Luxembourg of German postage to France: Attempted use of the 5 pfg. Germania definitive on a picture postcard posted at the 5c printed matter rate from Luxembourg Ville I, July 15, 1906, to Mersault, France, taxed and charged 10 centimes postage due in France (double the 5-centime deficiency).
T-3 -- Illegal Use in Luxembourg of Belgian postage to Germany: Attempted use of the 4-franc Belgian Abdication of Charles V commemorative (Scott #487) to correctly pay the 20 g letter rate to Germany from Belgium but posted from Luxembourg-Gare, July 8, 1955, invalidated in blue crayon and taxed 0.40 gold centimes (T 0.40 ct or) in Luxembourg, with the tax doubled on arrival in Bielefeld, Germany (Nachgebuhr 80).
Type 4 ─
T-4 Luxembourg & German Franking: 5-centime Allegory postal card for domestic use, illegally uprated with a 5-pfennig German adhesive to pay the 10-centime postcard rate to
T-5 ─ Postal Card Imprint Cutouts Used as PostageT-5 ─ Use of a 5c postal card imprint: Attempted payment in 1915 of five centimes of the ten-centime letter rate to France with a five-centime Écusson postal card cutout, but noticed and taxed by the Luxembourg-Ville post office. The return address is that of the Carmelite Tertiary nuns, the frugality perhaps reflecting their vow of poverty.
T-5 Use of a 45c postal viewcard imprint cutout: Attempted payment in 1935 of part of the 70-centime domestic letter rate on a sealed letter to the suburb of Limpertsberg, otherwise franked only with a 35-centime
T-6 ─ Non-postal UsesT-6 Oberpallen Private Overprint: Nicolas Gallé, who was the customs and immigration officer in charge of the Oberpallen border crossing between
Oberpallen has never had a post office, and an examination of these cards readily reveals that none ever passed through the mails. They lead my list of dubious and questionable items. Use of the Allegory postal cards in this curious manner probably was unauthorized, may have been illegal, and likely served no revenue purpose.
T-7 & T-8
I have yet to discover a
Today might be a good time to organize the IDQs in your collection and share them with the others.
An earlier version of this article appeared in Castellum.
Fiscal (or "tax") philately often provides the collector with an adventure into uncharted (or at best, poorly cataloged) philatelic pastures. Thus, it is not surprising to find that little has been written about the tax stamps used in Luxembourg by the German administration during World War II. What I present here is just the tip of the tip of this philatelic iceberg. Surely others will contribute as well to help fill this immense philatelic knowledge gap.
Recently I acquired a WWII food ration card used in Luxembourg City. It bears the official imprint of the "Stadt Luxemburg Ernährungsamt" or Luxembourg City Nutrition Office and a 50 Rpf. "Quittung" (or tax receipt). A rubber date stamp showing the date September 2, 1942, ties the stamp to the card. In all, the card bears 17 such rubber-stamped dates, all between 1941 and 1943, and shows three different addresses for the cardholder. The text states that the cardholder must present the card each time food rations are requested.
The stamp is shown below along with the front and back of the ration card and the Municipal Nutrition Office official imprint. A similar 60 Rpf. stamp surcharged with a large "5 Frs" is shown at the beginning of this post. Was the German-issued stamp surcharged to Luxembourg francs after the occupation ended?
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The International Reply Coupon (IRC) was introduced at the 1906 Universal Postal Union (UPU) Congress in
Collectors classify IRCs by design (or “frame”), with the design taking its name from the city where the UPU Congress was held that adopted the design. Table 1 summarizes the five basic designs that have appeared over the past 100 years:
The available information on
II. Rome Design (1907–1930)
During this nearly 23-year classic coupon period, Luxembourg issued five Rome-design IRCs. They paid four different tariffs. Moreover, when the tariff was increased, some of the coupons were uprated with the new value in manuscript. All of the Rome-frame coupons are very scarce.
January 11, 1910.
Roodt, December 26, 1919,
and uprated in manuscript to 55 centimes
III. London Design (1930 – 1965)
During the 35 years that the
Postmarked Luxembourg-Ville, September 1939
IV. Vienna Design (1965-1975)
The four different Vienna-design IRCs known for
V. Lausanne Design (1975-2002)
Varieties that I have not seen listed for Luxembourg include Lausanne printings with (i) “par voie aérienne” instead of “par voie de surface” on the front, and (ii) “CN01” instead of “C22” in the front upper right corner, and (iii) printings without the broken circle in the box on the right. The only known varieties are summarized in Table 6.
Horizontal UPU watermark
VI. Beijing Design: Models 1 & 2; Centenary Printing
2002 - 2007
Shown below are the two Beijing-model IRCs. The first appeared in 2002 and was valid for exchange until
In February 2007, a special printing of the Beijing Model 2 IRC appeared to commemorate a century of IRC use. The Centenary IRC has the inscription “1907 – 2007” added, as shown below in a cut from the specimen posted on the UPU website. Since February, only
Centenary Inscription “1907 – 2007”
on the Bejing Model 2 Special Printing
VII. IRCs & Ponzi Schemes
IRCs gained international attention early in 1920 when Charles Ponzi (1882-1949), a renowned international swindler, touted them as the inspiration for what is now commonly referred to as a “Ponzi scheme.” The phrase denotes an investment scheme in which the investor’s returns are paid not from profitable investments but rather from the inflow of cash from new investors.
In August 1919 a Spanish businessman enclosed an IRC with a request for a publication Ponzi had been promoting. Upon seeing the coupon, Ponzi realized that based on post-war exchange rates, IRCs bought in much of
In fact Ponzi never used his investors’ money to engage in IRC arbitrage. He quickly learned that the IRCs could only be exchanged for stamps, not cash, and that they were not intended for financial speculation. But by July 1920, Ponzi was taking in $250,000 a day in investments, and his success continued until Post magazine revealed that to cover the investments made with his company, 160,000,000 IRCs would have had to be in circulation—in fact, at that time only about 27,000 were actually circulating.
When federal agents shut down Ponzi’s company on
After a century of use, the IRC remains a viable means for writers to prepay the return postage for letters from their correspondents. And finding Luxembourg IRCs − particularly the various
Basien, Dieter & Hoffkamp, Fernand, Tarife der Briefpost in Luxemburg 1852-2002, (
Hurtré, André, website: “Postal Reply Coupons—International Reply Coupons,” http://www.couponreponse.fr/
Paul-August Koch, Wim V. M. Wiggers de Vries, and Auguste Wery, Die Internationalen Antwortscheine von Belgien und Luxemburg (Krefeld-Traar: Bund Deutscher Philatelisten e.V., 1984).