I never tire of Ferdinand Schirnbock’s master engraving of the vignette of Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde on her 1914 definitives. So you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered a sole use of the second highest denomination of the set—the 2½ F value, in a South American dealer’s stock.
In 1921, a money order not exceeding 500 francs could be sent to France for a fee of 25 centimes per 50 francs (or fraction thereof) of value. Thus, this money order for 471.81 francs cost 10 times 25 centimes, the sum exactly equaling 2.50 francs, which was nicely paid by the 2½ F Marie-Adélaïde definitive.
|The French 25-centime service charge to cash the money order is paid by a 25c French Sower definitive. The box at the lower left indicates that this was just the second money order entered in the Romilly sur Andelle post’s register (presumably for 1921).|
Acquiring this gem was fraught with a couple unusual setbacks.
When the money order ostensibly arrived by registered mail, my local post office failed to leave a pickup notice in my post box. Only several months later when I interrogated the postal clerks did they discover that they had failed to prepare a pickup notice for the letter.
However, that was not the end of the story. When I opened the registered letter that had been languishing in the Bangkok post office, I found that the South American dealer from whom I had purchased the item had mistakenly sent a set of Austrian proofs, not the international money order!
Happily, after a telephone call to the dealer, the item was found still to be in the dealer’s stock. I was glad eventually to receive it, and presumably the dealer was happy to have his Austrian proofs back.
Sometimes we sweat bullets waiting for rare items to arrive in the mails.