For postal stationery enthusiasts, properly returned reply cards present significant challenges. There just aren't many available. So over the past 50 or so years, I've diligently pursued acquiring them whenever they've come on the market.
At an FIAP show in Seoul, Korea earlier this year, I noticed a Nicaraguan postal stationery exhibit in the court of honor. Guess what -- none of the double cards was shown returned from abroad. This has motivated me to share some of the scarce Luxembourg reply cards in my collection, hoping philatelic jurists will recognize the challenge acquiring these cards presents. Many of the great Luxembourg stationery collections (including that of Costerus) have lacked uses of the reply cards.
Let's start with the Grand Duke Adolphe postal stationery that appeared between 1895 and 1906. You'd think reply cards from this era would be plentiful. Yet they're not, and those that appeared in 1906 as part of the third G.D. Adolphe stationery issue are among the scarcest in my collection.
The Three G. D. Adolphe Postal Stationery Issues
The first G.D. Adolphe stationery issue appeared on May 4, 1895, consisting of 5-centime and 10-centime single and double cards with the abbreviation “N.B.” (Latin: nota bene) printed in the bottom left margin along with instructions in French and German specifying that the front of the card is reserved exclusively for the address.
In 1903, a second Adolphe stationery issue appeared, this time just with 5-centime single and double cards. The "N.B." notation of the first issue is absent.
Last, in 1906 a third Adolphe issue appeared with 5-centime and
10-centime single and double cards that show two lines for the sender's address at the left front margin.
The G.D. Adolphe stationery was superseded on July 25, 1907, by the first Écusson issue.
Postal Card Rates: 1895 - 1909
The 5-centime card paid the domestic postal card rate and the UPU printed matter rate; the 10-centime paid the UPU postal card rate, the treaty postal card rates to Belgium and France, and until October 1, 1902, the treaty postal card rate to Germany. On that date, the German treaty rate was reduced to 5 centimes. On October 1, 1907, the German treaty rate was again set at 10 centimes until the rate increases of May 10, 1920.
Luxembourg demonized the G.D. Adolphe definitives as of January 1, 1909. Presumably the demonitization applied to the stationery as well.
(a) 5c+5c Reply Card -- First Adolphe Stationery Issue (1895)
Uprated with a French 5-centime adhesive and returned from Tours-Gare to Luxembourg-Ville in 1898 at the French treaty and UPU postcard rate!
Tours-Gare, France, March 18, 1898, to Luxembourg-Ville
stamp dealer, J. G. Paquelet, received March 19, 1898
Returned from Luxembourg-Ville to Kayl in 1900
(a round trip in just six hours!)
Message Card - Kayl, September 24, 1900 (7-8 a.m.)
Transit Luxembourg-Gare (8-9 a.m.)
Received Luxembourg-Ville (10-11 a.m.)
Luxembourg-Ville, September 24, 1900 (12-1 p.m.), to Kayl
Returned from Wiltz to Diekirch in 1901
Incoming cancel: Wiltz, February 21, 1901
Wiltz to Diekirch, February 25, 1901
Returned from the Luxembourg-Ulflingen TPO
to Diekirch in 1901
Luxembourg-Ulflingen TPO to Diekirch, August 28, 1901
Returned from Clervaux to Luxembourg-Ville in 1903
Clervaux, June 21, 1903
Incoming transit cancel: Luxembourg-Gare, June 16, 1903
Uprated and returned from Tunis, Tunisia to Diekirch, March 8, 1896, here.
Uprated and returned from 's-Gravenhage, Holland to Larochette, July 27, 1901, here.
(b) 10c+10c Reply Card -- First Adolphe Stationery Issue
Returned from Neufchateau, Belgium in 1897
Incoming cancel (May 4, 1897)
Neaufchateau, Belgium, May 17, 1897, to Luxembourg-Ville
Returned from Arlon, Belgium in 1897
Incoming cancel (May 20, 1897)
Arlon, Belgium, May 20, 1897, to Luxembourg-Ville
Returned from Paris, France in 1899
Paris, France, August 16, 1899, to Luxembourg-Ville
Returned from Magdeburg-Sudenburg, Germany in 1900
Magdeburg-Sudenburg, July 16, 1900, to Luxembourg-Ville
Returned from Metz, [then in] Germany in 1900
Metz, Germany, August 4, 1900, to Luxembourg-Gare
Returned from Wien, Austria in 1901
Wien, August 31, 1901, to Luxembourg-Gare
Returned from Trier, Germany in 1902
Trier, Germany, August 30, 1902, to Luxembourg-Ville
Returned from Blankenberghe, Holland in 1905
Blankenberghe, Holland, August 12, 1905, to Luxembourg-Ville
Returned from Rome, Italy in 1906
Rome, September 25, 1906, to Welcheid
(Post: Ettelbruck, September 27, 1906)
Returned from Einsiedeln, Switzerland in 1906
Einsiedeln, Switzerland, December 21, 1906, to Obermartelingen (Post: Perle, December 23, 1906)
Returned from St. Gilles, Belgium in 1908
(Very late use)
St. Gilles (Ch. de Charleroi), Belgium, July 21, 1908,
to Luxembourg-Ville, July 22, 1908
Returned from Ragaz, Switzerland to Hamburg, Germany, May 31, 1900, here.
(c) 5c+5c Reply Card -- Second Adolphe Stationery Issue (1903)
Returned from Mulhausen [then in the German Alsace-Lorraine] to Luxembourg-Ville in 1905 at the
5-centime German treaty rate effective in 1902
Mulhouse, December 9, 1905, to Luxembourg-Ville
Returned from Clervaux to Mersch in 1907
Clervaux, February 16, 1907, to Mersch
Uprated and returned from Leipzig, Germany to Trier, Germany, May 26, 1904, here.
(d) 5c+5c Reply Card -- Third Adolphe Stationery Issue (1906)
Used from Diekirch to Strasbourg, [then in the German Alsace-Lorraine], in 1909
This very scarce reply card was apparently used as a message card from Diekirch, January 11, 1909, eleven days after the demonitization of the G.D. Adolphe definitives. It is the only used example I've seen. There was none in the Costerus collection.
(d) 10c+10c Reply Card -- Third Adolphe Stationery Issue (1906)
Returned from Longwy-Bas, France,
to Luxembourg-Ville in 1908
A proper use of this very scarce card from Longwy-Bas, July 18, 1908, to Luxembourg-Ville. This is the only example of this reply card that I've seen. There was none in the Costerus collection.
The first G.D. Adolphe issue was used for almost a decade. Despite the long usage period, the reply cards are uncommon; however, the diligent collector will almost certainly eventually acquire them.
However, the second issue is scarce, and the third issue very scarce, making the acquisition of proper uses of these three cards problematic. We do not even know the quantities printed, exact dates of issue, or extent of distribution of these two issues. The third issue was short-lived, appearing about a year prior to the appearance of the first Écusson issue on July 25, 1907. Consider yourself privileged if you have examples of one or more of these reply cards in your collection!
The message cards from these five double cards are less scarce. Apparently, the reply card often was not used, and very few of those that were used may have been saved.