Friday, December 31, 2010

A WWII Prisoner-of-war Camp in Moutfort?


Moutfort (Luxembourgish:  Mutfert; German: Mutfort) is a small village in the commune of Contern in southern Luxembourg.  Was a prisoner-of-war camp located there during World War II?  From the postcard shown below, apparently there was, but I can't find any documentation about the camp. 


This postcard is addressed to "Camp Mutfort (Luxembourg)," is dated February 10, 1946, and was postmarked the next day, February 11th, at Kirchworbis, a Thuringian town in the district of Eichsfeld in Germany.  It's nicely franked with a pair of the 8-pf definitive issued for the post-WWII occupation of Thuringia  (Scott No. 16N5) .

The card recently turned up in a collection of lagerpost letters sent to Luxembourg addresses.  I notice a couple vanity marks at the bottom right on the message side, so other collectors must have appreciated this card.

Does anyone know more about the detention of prisoners-of-war at Moutfort and the handling of their incoming and outgoing mail?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Diagonal Paperfold on a 1947 1.50F+50c Caritas!

At Christmas, I enjoy revisiting my covers from the post-World War II era that are franked with the Caritas semi-postals, which appear in December each year.  These stamps were mostly used during the Christmas & New Year's season.  And until the 1986 issue, they were only valid for a short time, usually little longer than one year.  As a consequence, correctly franked commercial uses are well worth pursuing.

The mixed franking seen on the cover shown above correctly pays the 3.50F 20g UPU letter rate from Luxembourg-Ville, January 9, 1948, to Zug, Switzerland.  But what's that white line across the 1.50F+50c Lentz 1947 Caritas stamp?  It's a paperfold, seldom encountered on any of the well executed Caritas sets of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and probably unique on cover.
So along with this engaging cover, I send Christmas greetings and New Year's wishes that you'll make many exciting philatelic discoveries in 2011!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

April 10, 1931 -- Luxembourg's first airmail stamps used on a registered airmail letter to Liechtenstein on the first day of issue -- the beginning of two-country frankings?

1.  April 10, 1931 -- The beginning of two-country
airmail frankings?
On April 10, 1931, Luxembourg's attractive first airmail stamps appeared.  They were intended primarily for use on the country's airpost, which traveled by rail for dispatch from airports in neighboring Germany, France, and Belgium.  Direct airmail service from Luxembourg was not inaugurated until May 1, 1939.  During this eight-year-21-day period, Luxembourg airmail covers bear two-country franking -- the surface rate was paid with Luxembourg franking and the proper airmail supplement was paid with stamps of the country of dispatch.  But do not be confused -- these airmail stamps could be and often were also used for surface mail.
Basien and Hoffkamp, however, suggest  that airmail service using two-country frankings was possible as early as 1929, although I don't ever recall seeing a pre-April 10, 1931 Luxembourg airmail cover.  If such covers exist, they must be exceedingly rare.  Who has an example?
In their rate book, Basien and Hoffkamp quote Post-Instruktion 980/63, which in turn refers to Rundschreiben Nr. 80 dated May 7, 1929, thus:
Die luxemburgischen Postämter können einfache und eingeschriebene Sendungen der Briefpost annehmen, welche der Absender per Luftpost schickne möchte. Diese Sendungen unterliegen, außer den gewöhnlichen Gebührensätzen, einem speziellen Luftpostzuschlag, der unterschiedlich ist, je nach Fluglinie und Flugstrecke.
Provisorisch wendet die luxemburgische Post auf den Flugpostsendungen den Zuschlag an, der von dem Land festgesetzt ist, an das die Sendung vermittelt wird. Das Postamt Luxemburg-Stadt dient als Austauschbüro. Nur dort wird der Zuschlag in Briefmarken des betreffenen Landes aufgeklebt.
Für Luftpostsendungen, die in einem anderen Postamt aufgegeben werden, muss man sich an flogende Richtlinien halten:  Das Ausgangsbüro frankiert die Luftpostsendung gemäß dem normalen Tarif und schickt sie, zusammen mit einem formulaire de déboursé, enthaltend den Namen des Postamtes und der Aufschrift Avion an das Postamt Luxemburg-Stadt.  Dieses Amt klebt den Aufkleber Avion und die entsprechenden ausländischen Briefmarken als Zuschlag auf die Sendung, für den Leitweg, den der Absender angegeben hat.  Das Austauschbüro vermerkt den Zuschlagsbetrag in Luxemburger Franken auf dem formulaire de déboursé und schickt dieses dann zurück an das Ausgangspostamt.  Dieses Büro erhebt den entsprechenden Betrag beim Absender der Sendung, verrechnet die Summe in Portomarken auf dem formulaire de déboursé und sendet dieses zurück an die Postdirektion.  Folgende Angaben gelten als Richtinie für die Berechnung der Flugpostzuschläge:
Für die Lander Europas und Nordafrikas übersteigt der Zuschlag kaum 2.00 Fr.-Lux je 20 g.
Für die Flüge über Kairo nach Basra sind es etwa 3.00 Fr. je 20 g.
Für Nordamerika und Dakar etwa 4.50 Fr. je 20 g.
Für Südamerika (über Dakar) etwa 15.00 Fr. je 5 g.
Genauere Angaben können telephonisch beim Postamt Luxemburg-Stadt angefragt werden.

2.  An unusual first day of issue use of
the first airmail stamps

Bernard Fetter sent the registered airmail cover shown above from Luxembourg-Ville on April 10, 1931, to Vaduz, Liechtenstein, franking the cover with a set of the four just-issued airmails.  The cover is endorsed "Einschreiben:  Mit Flugpost via Köln - Zürich - St. Gallen," and bears the following cancels:
  • Luxembourg-Ville, 2:00-3:00 p.m., 10 Apr 1931
  • Trier, Germany [b/s], 10:00-11:00 p.m., 10 Apr 1931
  • Köln, Germany Luftpostamt, 11 Apr 1931
  • Zürich, Switzerland Flugplatz Luftpost, 11 Apr 1931
  • Vaduz, Liechtenstein [b/s], 13 Apr 1931
A  German 20 pf. airmail adhesive pays the supplement for airmail service from Köln to Switzerland.
The cover is unusual for two reasons.  It does not bear the circular green cachet that was applied to the "official" first day covers for this issue.  All of these show the Luxembourg-Ville cds with the time indicated as 8:00-9:00 a.m.  This cover was posted later on the first day of issue.  The Luxembourg-Ville cds shows the time as 2:00-3:00 p.m.  The cover did not reach Trier, Germany until 10:00-11:00 p.m on April 10th.

3.  The typical first day cover with the special green cachet postmarked 8:00-9:00 a.m.

A typical first day cover for the new airmail set is seen above.  It shows the special circular green cachet reading:
"Poste  Aerienne/ Luxembourg/10 Avril 1931"
Posted by Maury Swartz, the Luxembourg-Ville cds for April 10th shows the time as '8-9 M'.  The Brussels oval cds indicates that the cover was received in Brussels at 3:00-4:00 [a.m.?], April 11, 1931.  A Belgian 60c adhesive pays the airmail supplement for airmail service from Brussels to England.  The PAR AVION etiquette differs from that seen on the first day cover to Liechtenstein.

4.  Another 1931 two-country franking

Luxembourg-Ville, August 3, 1931 (11:oo a.m.-12 noon) to Langenforth by Hannover, routed to Cologne for airmail service "Via Köln-Hannover," with the Köln cds of the same date, 9:00-10:00 p.m., canceling the German 10 pf. airmail adhesive that pays for the airmail service from Köln to Hannover.