Mourning cover collectors have never agreed on the significance, if any, of the width of the covers’ black borders, but they all agree that registered mourning covers are unusual and scarce.
Consider this big guy:
The cover measures 140x218 mm.; the front borders are a robust 25 mm. wide!
Endorsed “75 gr,” the cover pays the 5th step letter rate to Germany (25c/15g x 5 = 1.25F) plus a 25c registry, with the 1.50F total charge nicely paid with the 50c and 1F Adolphe definitives.
But putting those details aside, the interesting question this cover raises is why the sender—J. Bunsen-Knaff—sent it by registered mail, replete with four wax seals. Perhaps because the addressee--Philipp Bunsen--in Hannover, Germany, probably was a relative? Posted from Luxembourg-Ville, October 28, 1901, it arrived the next day, as shown by the backstamp.
Mourning covers offer a lot of postal history and genealogical appeal. You can learn much more about mourning covers at www.mscc.ms/ , which web address will take you to the website of the Mourning Stamp and Cover Club.
Another Example of Wide Borders
Here is another mourning cover with even slightly wider borders. But it is of especial interest for another reason--because it unfolds to reveal the identity of the person being mourned.
Posted from Luxembourg-Ville, March 27, 1933, to Göppingen, Germany, the cover mourns Benjamin Bonn, an attorney who died on March 25, 1933, and who was interred in the Jewish Cemetery at Luxembourg Belle-Vue on March 28, 1933.
Unlike the registered cover, this cover was sent at the frugal 35c rate for printed matter to Germany not exceeding 50g!
Registered Mourning Cover from the Royal Residence at Colmar-Berg in 1912 sent to Bavarian royalty in Munich
Registered official mail from the royal residence at Colmar-Berg franked with the 50c William IV official, posted June 24, 1912 to Munich, Germany, and is backstamped Munchen, June 25, 1912.
The addressee is Nelly von Schmidt, who was the maid of honor to Countess Mathilde Trani (as indicated in the second line of the address). Nelly von Schmidt died in 1919; Mathilde Trani in 1925. They were buried in the same crypt at Waldfried in Munich.
The cover is also interesting because it was sent just 12 days after Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde became of age on her 18th birthday. It is endorsed in purple: “Service de la Grand Duchesse.”
In whose hand was the letter addressed? And who was being mourning?
Registered incoming mourning cover
from Bavaria in 1919
Ruchheim, Bavaria, October 14, 1919, with backstamps of Bad Dürkheim, October 15th, and Luxembourg-Ville, October 17th, addressed to Luxembourg-Limpertsberg.
A 1912 Mourning Cover from Luxembourg
to Germany with postage due!
This mourning cover, franked only with a 10c G.D. William IV definitive, was posted from Luxembourg-Ville, September 26, 1912, to Osnabrück, Germany, short-paid by 2½ centimes (the 20g letter rate to Germany at the time being 12½c). The cover is marked “T” in blue crayon, has been handstamped “PORTO” (probably in Germany), and has the deficiency indicated in pencil.
Mourning covers with postage due assessed are even scarcer than registered mourning covers. This might partly be explained by the reluctance of postal clerks to tax covers bringing bad news! But that wasn’t the case in this instance.