Friday, February 18, 2011

Philatelic hanky-panky


The English expression  hanky-panky refers to activity that is devious or mischievous.  A common form of philatelic hanky-panky is the use of stamps prior to their official release date. 

Consider the Souvenir II cover below:



The Souvenir II surcharges were issued on May 27, 1923 -- the date shown on the stamps.  But the vertical strips of three on this 48-gram registered cover to Paris are postmarked at Wecker on May 23, 1923 -- four days earlier.  Even the poster stamp on the back is tied by a Wecker May 23rd cancel.  And there is also a Luxembourg-Ville transit dated May 23rd. 

That the return address on the envelope flap has been torn off also suggests hanky-panky.  Even today premature use of Luxembourg stamps is unusual, and certainly such use in the 1920s must have been a serious violation of government policy.  But knowledgeable collectors know that this cover was not the only hanky-panky that emanated from a certain entrepreneur in Wecker (and Berbourg)!  

The cover is overfranked.  At 48 grams, the postage would have been 70c plus a 50c registry fee, for a total of  1.20F.  The stamps affixed, however, total 1.50F. 

French customs was also curious.  The customs label indicates that the letter was to be held for customs inspection!

The handed-back cover below shows the stamps actually canceled on the first day of issue:


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