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).