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Sunday, July 19, 2009

St. Helena ... where?

 

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Raymond Thill of Rumelange, who we remember as the maker of many attractive first day and first flight covers, addressed this 13-franc cover posted February 19, 1951, to "Stamp Brokerage Co.,
St. Helena."  Initially, I thought: "Wow!  What a spectacular South Atlantic ocean destination.

small-map-saint-helena

St. Helena Island

Upon closer inspection, I noticed "U.S.A." typed at the lower left corner of the cover.  Next to it was an Omaha, Nebraska receiving cancel dated March 8, 1951.  And above it was the manuscript notation: "No such company at St. Helena, Nebr." plus "Try California."

250px-Cedar_County_Nebraska_Incorporated_and_Unincorporated_areas_St__Helena_Highlighted_svg

Saint Helena, Nebraska
Cedar County
Population 86

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After having cleared customs at New York City and transited through Omaha on its journey to "St. Helena," the cover stopped at Saint Helena, Nebraska, in the United States heartland on March 12, 1951.

250px-Napa_County_California_Incorporated_and_Unincorporated_areas_St__Helena_Highlighted_svg

Saint Helena, California
Napa County
Population 5,950

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Five days later, on March 17, 1951, the cover reached its final destination -- Saint Helena [pronounced "Saint he-LEE-na"], California, amidst the beautiful March greenery of the Napa Valley wine country, undoubtedly a refreshing change from the late winter bleakness of Saint Helena, Nebraska.

The cover is also remarkable for its franking.  The 10-franc General Patton commemorative is seldom seen on commercial mail.  Here it pays part of the 13-franc rate for a 40-60 g UPU surface letter (9 F) plus the 4-F UPU registry fee. 

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As a used single, off cover, Prifix currently prices the stamp at 55 euros; Scott 2008 is more conservative at $37.50.   Issued on October 24, 1947, the stamp was valid until December 31, 1951. 

I'm pleased to have it on a commercial cover, even if that cover didn't go to St. Helena Island!

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