Saturday, July 20, 2013

A 3.07½-franc UPU Parcel Post Rate in 1915


002a 20c + 37½c + 2½ Fr = 3.07½ Fr


Luxembourg-Ville VI, 3 May 1915 [6:00-7:00 p.m.]
Transit Luxembourg-Gare, 3 May 1915 [10:00-11:00 p.m.]
Transit Strassburg (Elsass), 4 May 1915
Transit Kais. Deutsch B.P.A. 19, Basel, Switzerland, 5 May 1915
Geneva, Switzerland [green customs cachet], 5 May 1915


Luxembourg’s UPU parcel post rates were set at the 1906 Rome UPU Convention.  The rate for a 5-10 kg parcel to Switzerland was set at 1.90 Fr.  So why was this 8.4 Kg parcel to Geneva, Switzerland, franked at a 3.07½-franc rate?

The answer to this conundrum is surprisingly simply.  The parcel was surcharged 50% for being bulky or otherwise cumbersome (in French: “encombrant”), and therefore required special handling. 
Article 13.2 of the Rome Postal Convention provides:

2. — Les colis encombrants sont soumis à une taxe additionnelle de 50 pCt qui est arrondie, s'il y a lieu, par 5 centimes.

And this shipment also incurred a 15c charge for 250 francs of insurance (the parcel post insurance rate was 15c per 300 francs of value).  Thus:

Basic postage for parcels of 5 kg – 10 kg to Switzerland = 1.90 Fr

Parcel post insurance fee for 250 francs of insured value = 15c

Bulkiness surcharge: 50% of 2.05 Fr = 1.02½ Fr

Total postage and fees = 3.07½ Francs

That’s unabashed philatelic pulchritude!  How many commercial uses of the 2.50 Fr William IV definitive do you have in your collection?

You can find the 1906 Rome Convention parcel post rates here:

The parcel post tables begin on page 828.  I don’t think you’ll find them anywhere else.

The takeaway from this post is that you will surely enjoy your postal history material a lot more if you master the pertinent rates.  Do it!


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