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.                             

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sole use of the 87½-centime surcharge on the one-franc Marie Adélaïde definitive

Why do we see so many covers—all philatelic creations—franked with the 30c Marie Adélaïde definitive surcharged to 17½c in combination with the one-franc surcharged to 87½c? There was no one-franc-five-centime rate, yet dealers often put optimistically high prices on these plentiful philatelic souvenirs.

The explanation is straight forward, and nicely explained in Hans von Rudolphi’s scholarly tome — Handbuch der Briefmarken-kunde: Lieferung 16/17 - Luxemburg, published in 1944. Here is a summary.

In July 1916, two new rates to Germany took effect: a 17½c letter rate and an 87½c rate for parcels weighing up to 5 kg. But to pay the latter rate, the 87½c William IV definitive (issued 6 Jun 1908) was no longer available. This stamp had been surcharged to 62½c on 29 Feb 1912. So to meet the immediate need for an 87½c stamp, Luxembourg on 14 Aug 1916 released the one-franc Marie Adélaïde definitive surcharged to 87½c (the 30c stamp was surcharged to 17½c to pay the new letter rate).

The 17½c and 87½c Marie Adélaïde definitives did not appear until 1 Mar 1917. Thus, the most interesting sole uses of the 17½c and 87½c surcharges are on letters and parcels sent to Germany between 14 Aug 1916 and 1 Mar 1917. And the most challenging use of the two by far is a proper sole use of the 87½c surcharge since very few parcel cards were saved.

The parcel card seen here is illustrative. It’s a proper sole use of the 87½c surcharge with the stamp paying the postage from Luxembourg-Limpertsberg, 2 Nov 1916, for a 950 gram parcel sent to Herne in Westfalia, Germany. The back shows the Luxembourg-Gare 3 Nov 1916 transit, the Trier, Germany, transit of the same date, and the Herne cds of 6 Nov 1916 documenting the arrival of the parcel.

Sole use of the 17½c/30c surcharge

Echternach II, 21 Sep 1916 to Trier, Germany

Typical Souvenir Cover Using the
17½c and 87½c Surcharges in Combination

Luxembourg-Ville IV to Berlin, 2 Oct 1916

An unreported 'Mondorf-les-bains' single line mark!

Today I was studying a group of covers franked with the 1916-1924 surcharges.  And it's when you study material you've acquired, perhaps long ago, that you often make new discoveries.
Here is a cover that initially interested me because the 17½c 20g letter rate and 25c registry fee to Germany were paid entirely with 1916-1924 surcharges.  But then I noticed something I hadn't seen before -- a curious single line strike reading 'Mondorf-les-bains' next to the registry mark.  There was also the Mondorf-les-Bains cds of  December 1, 1919 (and a Luxembourg-Ville transit backstamp of the same date).  So what purpose did the single line mark (with "Bains" strangely spelled with a lower-case "b") serve?
The strike remains a mystery for me.  Two numbers are written on the cover.  'No. 4' appears in black ink above the single line mark.  And above the registry mark in purple pencil '574' is written, which I assume  is the registration number.
Also, the cover is addressed to a philatelic organization (I think) in Ludwigslust (Mecklenburg), Germany.  Did the sender apply the single line mark before registering the cover?  And if so, why?
I occasionally see stamps canceled with a single-line device, presumably because the proper canceler was unavailable, but here the device was not used to cancel the stamps.
Got any clues?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The 1903 Diedenhofen-Mondorf railway revenue stamps


The Alsace-Lorraine (in German: Elsaß-Lothringen) was a territory created by the German empire in 1871, after the annexation of most of the Alsace and the Moselle region of the Lorraine in the Franco-Prussian War as part of the Treaty of Frankfurt.  French troops entered the Alsace-Lorraine in November 1918 at the end of World War I, with the territory reverting back to France under the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
In 1870, at the beginning of the German annexation, a set of postage stamps was issued for the Alsace-Lorraine.  But on January 1, 1872, these stamps were replaced by stamps of the German empire.
However revenue stamps for the Alsace-Lorraine continued to be issued throughout the annexation, including those to tax railway carriage of goods contracts (in French:  Lettres de Voitures).  
Of particular interest for Luxembourgian philately are the four revenue stamps issued in 1903 for use in connection with goods transported on the branch railway line [or Nebenbahn] from Diedenhofen (today: Thionville) in the Alsace to Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg.  They are shown below:
The design is the same as that used for the main German railway in the territory -- the Reichs-Eisenbahnen in Elsass-Lothringen.  The text reads: 
"Nebenb.  Dieden-/hofen-Mondorf."   
The stamps are typically found perforated on some sides and rouletted on others.  The Yvert & Tellier Catalogue des Timbres Fiscaux et Socio-Postaux de France says the stamps rouletted on all four sides are scarce.
Similar revenue stamps were issued in 1905 for the  branch line connecting the Alsatian towns of Rosheim and St. Nabor.
Who has seen examples on documents?  Canceled examples of the 30 Pf. and 40 Pf. and a 1915 Frachtbrief from the line can be seen on this wonderful website:
Your Luxembourg railway cancel collection won't be complete without the Diedenhofen-Mondorf railway cancel on a loose stamp or document!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mail to Louis Aston Knight's widow in 1949


Louis Aston Knight (1873–1948) was a French-born American artist noted for his landscape paintings. One of his paintings, The Afterglow, was purchased by U.S. President Warren G. Harding in 1922 to hang in the White House.
In early 1907, Knight met Caroline Ridgeway Brewster (1882-1959), a distant cousin from Rochester, New York, while she was traveling through Europe with her mother. Knight returned to America with Caroline in October; they married in Raritan, New Jersey. The couple settled in Paris, but lived in New York during WWI, moving back again to the United States in 1940 after the occupation of France, where they remained until their deaths. 

This letter from the United States Foreign Service in Luxembourg-Ville postmarked November 30, 1949, was sent to Louis Aston Knight's widow in New York City the year after his death.  The address--114 East 84th Street--is an eight-floor apartment building built in 1915.


The 4F, 20-gram  letter rate and 3F airmail supplement are nicely paid by the 7F 1948 Tourist View sole franking.

A thousand years from now, covers like this will be remembered as relics of the pre-electronic mail era.  So you'd better save 'em now!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

If only it were still on cover ...

2½-fr William IV
9 May 1912Colmar-Berg
Bridge & Bar cds

Grand Ducal Chateau at Colmar-Berg

Fine used stamps evoke fantasies of the covers from which they were removed.  That's especially true when the cancel is that of Colmar-Berg, where much mail from the royals originated! 
The high denomination official stamp shown above might have franked a money letter sent back to Hohenberg in Bavaria, seat of the Nassau-Weilberg dynasty (such as the one shown below).  Of course, we'll never know for sure.

8175-Fr Money Letter
10c, 12½c, 62½c & 2½ Fr
Marie-Adélaïde Officials
Colmar-Berg, 6 Jan 1917, to Wiesbaden, 8 Jan 1917
Censored in Trier
From the Secretariat of
Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde
Correctly rated, thus:
Postage (20 g-250 g letter to Germany) = 30c
Registry fee = 25c
Money Letter fee (10c/300-fr) = 2.80 Fr
Total: 3.35 Fr

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Domestic Use of PC2 in 1891 -- a homely gem!

The first six-centime Arms postal card was issued in a quantity of only 3,000  on June 16, 1874, to pay the 6c German treaty rate.  Used examples are scarce, the entire printing having sold out in only two months.  It's so scarce in fact that in 50 years of collecting, I had only acquired two used examples until the remarkable card shown below surfaced in a bourse dealer's acquisitions.  And I don't recall seeing a used PC2 in the François Kaufmann collection when it was exhibited at Finland's FIP postal stationery exhibition in the 1980s.
Here we see this homely gem, printed locally by Pierre Bruck with a basic printing press, used domestically nearly 17 years after issuance.  This was well into the period when Luxembourgers were using the high-quality Allegory postal cards printed in Holland in large quantities by Enschedé using then state-of-the-art printing technology.
The three double-circle cancels show the card postmarked at Clervaux 1:00-2:00 p.m. on Friday, February 27, 1891, received in transit at Diekirch 7:00-8:00 p.m. the same day, reaching its destination of Vianden at 9:00-10:00 a.m. the next day. 
Some of my philatelic friends in Luxembourg opine that out-of-period uses of the postal stationery were the work of collectors.  This and others in my collection suggest that that was often not the case.  The frugal Luxembourgers of this era weren't about to waste six centimes when an old forgotten card turned up.  By 1891, the German treaty rate was ten not six centimes, but the domestic postal card rate remained at 5 centimes and the first-issue cards were still valid (they weren't demonitized until December 31, 1905).  So the writer lost only one centime when he used this 6c card to send his message across the Luxembourg Ardennes from Clervaux to Vianden!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

'Service Public' labels & The Postal Typewriter



I was intrigued by this William IV official cover for two reasons.  First, it features an uncommon postal label; second,  the addressee — ‘The Postal Typewriter’ — is unusual.

The cover was sent from Luxembourg-Gare, 11 June 1910, by the Grand Ducal Laboratoire Pratique de Bactériologie to 'The Postal Typewriter' in London, England.  The London oval backstamp dated 12 June 1910 and the laboratory's seal are seen on the back.  The 65-centime official franking pays the UPU registry fee (25c) and postage (40c for a second-step, 20-40 g letter).

1.  The Service Public label

From my philatelic colleagues in Luxembourg, I've learned that during this era government agencies could instruct the post office to frank their official mail with official stamps.  This was done by use of purple Service Public labels, which mandate in French: 
Affranchir au moyen de
Timbres Officiels
Administration des Postes!
Or, I'm told, sometimes 'S.P.' was simply written on the envelope, and official stamps would be pasted over the handwritten instruction.
Here's another example of the Service Public label used by the laboratory, now with its name in the cachet in German -- the Bakteriologisches Staatslaboratorium:


Properly pasted over the Service Public label, official stamps pay the registry fee (1.50 F) and postage (4.00 F) on a heavy, oversized (100-120 g) cover from Luxembourg-Gare, 4 April 1928, to Berlin, backstamped at Berlin-Schmargendorf on 6 April 1928.

2.  'The Postal Typewriter'

A postal historian can never be too curious.  Thanks to Google and Bing, I now know that classic typewriters are just as collectable as classic stamps.
One website —The Classic Typewriter Page  here — provides this account of the Postal Typewriter (and the photo shown above):
The Postal was an appealing portable typewriter that used an interchangeable hard-rubber typewheel and a three-bank keyboard with double shift. The Postal was invented by William P. Quentell and Franklin Judge. It was introduced in 1902 by the Postal Typewriter Company, based first in New York and then (1904) in Norwalk, Connecticut. It was made until 1908 or shortly thereafter.

The Postal originally sold for $25 ($27.50 with a veneered oak case) -- a nice price compared to the "standard" machines, which cost $100. The company boasted that theirs was "the only low-priced Typewriter combining Universal Keyboard, Powerful Manifolding and Mimeograph Stencil Cutting." With features such as these, the Postal enjoyed some popularity; the company employed 2,000 salesmen in the U.S., and the typewriter was exported to Great Britain, Germany, Austria, France, and even Russia.
And a news article from Norwalk, Connecticut, where the Postal Typewriters were manufactured, comments on a classic Postal Typewriter recently donated to the city's museum:
In the early 1900s, when the phone was not ubiquitous and telegraphs were inconveniently located outside the home, the mail, or the post, was convenient because messages were delivered three times a day. . . . With a Postal Typewriter, people could write a quick letter -- a post card -- and have it delivered by the day's end. . . .
Perhaps that's why Luxembourg's bacteriology laboratory was writing in 1910 to The Postal Typewriter.  Their letter was addressed in long hand.  I wonder if they later purchased a Postal Typewriter.  Covers in subsequent years might reveal the answer.  However, the laboratory's label shown below -- posted 12 May 1919 to Brussels with combination official franking totaling 1.40 F postage and registry fee -- is hand addressed! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Elegant ephemera



Here is the lovely embossed slate blue seal of C. Pasquali, Luxembourg, personalizing an unusual herring-bone-design envelope. 

Elegant ephemera such as this is scarce but often little appreciated and seldom collected.  Yet the unmistakable beauty of this eminently collectible seal deserves to be preserved in a postal history collection for others to enjoy.  Imagine the thoughtfulness that went into its design. 


C. Pasquali's envelope exudes its own grace, nicely postmarked Luxembourg-Gare, 4 Jan 1923, with 20c and 30c G.D. Charlotte I definitives paying the 50-centime 20g UPU letter rate to Firenze, Italy.  It's definitely a keeper!


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Commercial First Day Use to Brazil of the 1953 Royal Marriage commemoratives


Luxembourg-Telegraphes [b], 
7:00 p.m., 1 Apr 1953,
First Day of Issue!

During the decade after World War II, Luxembourg followed a conservative new issue policy, limiting the number of commemoratives issued and choosing carefully the subjects  commemorated.  Except for the annual Caritas and other semi-postal or philatelically inspired issues, we have only the following:
  • 24 Oct 1947 - General Patton set (4)
  • 5 Aug 1948 - Tourist views (4)
  • 6 Oct 1949 - UPU 75th Anniversary (4)
  • 25 Oct 1951 - Europa precursors (6)
  • 20 Aug 1952 - Olympic sports (6)
  • 1 Apr 1953 - Royal Marriage (6)
Finding commercial uses of each of these 30 stamps is a challenge worth undertaking.  Covers exist, but considerable perseverance is necessary to unearth them, with the lowest and highest denominations sometimes proving the most challenging to find.

Because I especially enjoy the attractive 1953 Royal Marriage issue, over the years I've filled an album with uses of this issue on cover, but none is quite as charming as the recently-acquired commercial cover shown here.  Posted early on the evening of 1 Apr 1953 at the Luxembourg-Telegraphes window of the main post office, the cover, which is from the ARBED's central administration, was sent by registered airmail to an ARBED affiliate, the Companhia Siderugica Belgo-Mineira S.A., in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Assuming a 10-15 g letter, the rate would be:

4 F - UPU 20 g letter

4 F - UPU registry fee

24F - Airmail supplement (8 F/5 g = 24 F)

That's a total rate of 32 F.  The three 9 F and two 3 F Marriage stamps make-up a convenience franking of 33 F.  (The absence of a 1 F denomination in the Marriage set probably explains the overfranking.)

I occasionally see commercial mail from the ARBED to its Brazilian affiliate, correctly rated with attractive commemorative franking.  The ARBED cover shown above provides the added pleasure of first day commemorative use plus a cancel we don't often see used on letters.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Redirected Royal Mail to Grenville Clark in 1954



Grenville Clark (1882-1967) was a distinguished American corporate lawyer remembered for his efforts to promote world peace through world law.   In 1985, the 39c denomination of the Great American series was issued in his honor [Scott #1867 seen above].

The interesting cover below was sent to Clark in Dublin, New Hampshire, where he resided, by Grand Duchess Charlotte's staff, but was initially directed to Dublin, Ireland, as no destination country was indicated in the typed address.  Dublin, Ireland is much better known than its namesake in the United States state of New Hampshire.

The postal clerk's pencil notation reads:

Insufficient address - not known Dublin Eire /s/

And the clerk added "USA" to the address, along with blue crayon X's, redirecting the cover to Dublin, New Hampshire, USA.


This cover initially appealed to me as an unusual example of redirected official mail, having been missent to Ireland.  But it is interesting from several additional perspectives as well.  Apart from having been sent to a famous person, it's a nice sole use of the 4 F Royal Marriage issue, with the attractive blue commemorative paying the 20 g UPU surface letter rate that was in effect from 1 Jan 1949 to 15 Jul 1958.  Likewise, the machine slogan cancel dated 9 Jan 1954, urging use of the annual charities semipostals, is certainly collectible.  More significantly however, this is mail from the Royal household, as shown by the corner card reading Département du Grand Maréchal de la Cour and the purple straight-line auxiliary mark indicating SERVICE DE LA GRANDE-DUCHESSE.

Yes, this engaging postal history cover shows minor damage, but the sale price on eBay was only $2.58.  Y0u never know when another bargain like this might up on the world's biggest flea market!

We could use a few more Grenville Clarks these days, as philately ebbs and the world becomes increasingly chaotic.  I could say more, but this is a philatelic blog.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The sad plight of stamps in the postal history era




Here are two lovely William IV stamps:  the 2½ F with the cds of Colmar-Berg, 6 May 1913, and the 5 F official, with the cds of Luxembourg-Gare.  Both carry hefty catalog values in Scott and Prifix:

  Scott 2009 Classic Prifix 1997
2½ F Wm IV $ 91.50 € 100
5 F Wm IV official $ 47.50 60


As a juvenile collector in the 1950s, I built a worldwide collection with penny approvals.  It was many years later before I could acquire gems like these.  And then, they were not acquired for pennies!

But today you can buy stamps like this for little more than I paid for  penny approvals in 1955.  These two stamps — offered as "Luxembourg Mi 82-3 used stamps CDS cat 165 euro" — sold for $20.50 (plus $1.28 shipping) after drawing two bids on eBay on August 1, 2010.  In 1955 dollars, that would have been $2.56 (plus 16c postage).  And whether in 1955 or 2010 dollars, that is little more than chump change for these two scarce stamps.

Granted, the 2½ F might not be as scarce as its catalog value suggests, but with the Colmar-Berg cancel it holds its own in my collection of bridge & bar cancels, some of which are shown below.  And my experience has been that the used 5 F official is considerably scarcer than the used 2½ F definitive, catalog values to the contrary notwithstanding.

Results such as this are commonplace on eBay.  So when reading catalog values for most 20th century Luxembourg stamps, just move the decimal point one place to the left.  The prices will then be a lot closer to actual market value, given the increasing amount of material entering the market and the paucity of collectors who still collect 20th century stamps. 



Bridge-and-Bar cancels
FSPL Type 33


Sunday, August 15, 2010

'Via Marseille' & 'Via Troisvierges' to Diekirch



Incoming international mail to Luxembourg almost always transited Luxembourg-Gare or Luxembourg-Ville for delivery to outlying towns.  But here is an exception.

This well-preserved UPU postal card emanated from Weltevreden in the then-Netherlands East Indies, January 18, 1888, addressed to Diekirch.  The Dutch rectangular auxiliary marking reads 'NED: INDI/VIA MARSEILLE,' so we know that the European port of entry was Marseille.  But the incoming postmark on the morning [10:00 to 11:00 a.m.] of February 22, 1888, is that of Troisvierges!  The  postmark of Diekirch [7:00-8:00 p.m.] shows that the card arrived later the same day.

We will never know why this card managed to travel from the  south of France by rail through Luxembourg-Ville (and presumably past Diekirch) to Troisvierges in the far north, only to be routed back to Diekirch in central Luxembourg for delivery. 

Ah ... if postal cards could talk, what a delightful story many of them could tell!


Well, they can sort of "talk."  Take a look at the cross-writing on the back of this card.

See also:   Outbound mail to Sumatra (1901) & Java (1924)  (posted July 5, 2009).



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Luxembourg's use of official seals to repair damaged incoming and outgoing mail


To my knowledge, almost nothing has been written about the official seals used by the Luxembourg postal service to officially seal or reseal  damaged incoming or outgoing mail.  This is surprising as postal historians have recently shown a keen interest in this aspect of postal history. 

The fine website Officially Sealed Mails of the World at is devoted to documenting and displaying worldwide official postal seals.  According to the website author, Todd A. Hirn, "The earliest recorded on-cover use of an official seal was in Italy in 1864."  He says that official seals have been recorded from some 185 countries.  However, he notes that few countries continue to use post office seals today.  Most postal authorities now use special tape to repair damaged mail, or they enclose badly damaged items in plastic 'body' bags.

Surely the readers of this blog can help me document the official seals that the Luxembourg post has used.

Here are three examples of such mail.  These imperforate translucent glassine seals were used to repair damaged mail.  They are easily differentiated by their fancy corner ornaments, the text and text font. (I classify them separately from the attractive small embossed seals that the Luxembourg post and many other government agencies once used to "seal" their outgoing mail.)


1921 twice resealed registered letter
Brod, Yugoslavia to Berbourg, Luxembourg





Corner ornament

Registered letter from Brod, Yugoslavia [today:  Croatia] posted October 18, 1921, to Berbourg, Luxembourg [misspelled:  'Bernburg Luxenburg'], franked with six 25-para King Alexander definitives and a 1-dinar King Peter definitive (Scott No. 6 and 10, respectively).

The letter was initially routed to Dresden, Germany [cds 21 Oct 1921], where it was opened for inspection under the German currency control laws and officially resealed. 

Due to the misspelling of Berbourg, the letter was missent from Dresden to Bernburg, Germany [on the back:  Bernburg cds 14 Nov and 15 Nov 1921]. 

The letter was then redirected to Luxembourg-Ville [cds illegible].  As it was extensively damaged, it was officially resealed before being sent on to its destination in Berbourg [post:  Wecker cds, 17 Nov 1921].

The official seals read:



1933 underpaid letter from
Lisbenge, Belgian Congo
to Luxembourg-Ville




Corner ornament

Letter from Libenge, Belgian Congo [today:  Democratic Republic of the Congo] posted 29 Sep 1933 to Luxembourg-Ville.  The 1.25 F Belgian Congo pictorial only paid the treaty rate to Luxembourg for a 20-gram surface letter.  An additional 75c postage was required for second-step (20-40 gram)  letters, as apparently was the case here.  The 75c deficiency was doubled upon receipt in Luxembourg-Ville, 8 Nov 1933.

Arriving badly damaged, the letter was resealed with two official postal seals.  They read:





1936 letter from
Luxembourg-Ville to Berlin, Germany
damaged by the machine canceller

Officail postal seal cover

Official postal seal cover bk 

Official postal seal coveraaa

Corner ornament

Meter mail machine cancelled at Luxembourg-Ville, 2 Apr 1936, posted to Berlin, Germany.  The postal clerk's pencil notation in French on the back reads "damaged by the machine canceller." 

The meter franking of 2.75 F pays the treaty rate to Germany for a third-step, 40-60 gram letter.  The thickness of this heavy letter probably was the cause of the damage from the machine canceller. 

The letter has been repaired with an official seal that reads: