Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Modern Postal History Delights


Collecting modern postal history can offer you a lot of philatelic pleasure without emptying your bank account.  My "modern" Luxembourg collection begins with the issues of the late 1950s.  It has no arbitrary ending date. 

So-called "modern covers" are like young children.  They might not yet have found their place in the (postal history) world, but that will just take time.  Give them another fifty years to mature.  Collectors will look back over the immediate past 75 or 100 years, caterwauling about  the beauty of covers showing the rates, routes and markings of the latter half of the 21st century.  And some pundits will wonder why so many such covers were tossed in the bin by the 21st century postal historians.

Here are a few examples of delightful modern Caritas covers:


Domestic 1969 Registered Special Delivery Cover
with Mixed-Issue 1968-1969 Caritas Franking



Walferdange, transit Luxembourg-Ville [b/s], December 30, 1969, incoming to Strassen [b/s], December 31, 1969, for delivery in Bridel.

*  20-100g domestic letter =  6,00 F

*  Registry fee = 10,00 F

*  Special Delivery fee = 10,00 F

Correctly franked thus:

3F+50c 1968 Caritas (4) (valid only to the end of 1969),
2F+25c & 6F+1F (2) 1969 Caritas

Covers with mixed-issue Caritas frankings are scarce.  The Caritas issues prior to 1986 were only valid to the end of the year following their issuance.  Thus there typically were only a few days when both issues could be used.

For the cover shown above, the 1968 Caritas stamps were valid only to the end of 1969.  The 1969 Caritas stamps were issued on December 8, 1969.  Therefore 1968-1969 mixed-issue Caritas frankings were only possible for 24 days -- from December 8 to December 31, 1969.  You better check the bargain boxes at your favorite bourse to add a few to your collection!


The Elegance of Sole Frankings
on Correctly-rated Covers



 Weiswampach, May 5, 1959, to Mondorf-les-Bains [b/s], May 6th,
correctly rated 2.50F for a domestic letter up to 50 g, with sole franking of the 2.50F+50c 1958 Caritas Capellen coat-of-arms stamp.

Sole frankings exude the elegance of a beautiful flower in full bloom.  Searching for correctly rated, sole-franked covers for each value of a set is a worthy task, not easily accomplished! 


Postings to Exotic Destinations|
(such as Uganda)



Luxembourg-Ville, March 3, 1988, to Kampala, Uganda,
with three 1987 Caritas stamps paying 28F postage.


UPU 20g letter = 20F

Airmail supplement (3F/10g) = 6F (?)

(Overfranked 2F)


Highest Value of a Set Properly Used




Luxembourg-Gare, December 20, 1962, to Wandsbeker, Germany, franked with the 2.50F+50c and 8.50F+4.60F 1962 Caritas stamps.  The 8.50F is the highest value of the six-stamp 1962 Caritas set.

Assuming a 40-60g letter to Germany, the 11F postage pays:

1st 20g = 5F

Plus 3F for each add'l 20g = 6F


The auxiliary postal label applied at Lübeck indicates that the letter arrived damaged [Beschädigt] on December 21st.  It was repaired with eight official postal seals.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

300-day Journey to & from the Belgian Congo in 1902 -- a 'Philatelic Tragedy'

10c+10c Allegory Message-Reply Card (3rd series)
UPU-rate message-reply (double) cards can be the postal stationery collector's worst enemy or best friend -- your worst enemy if you lack incoming uses of the reply cards; your best friend if you have scarce incoming uses.
Well, while working on a one-frame exhibit of incoming uses of Luxembourg reply cards (and outgoing uses of other countries' reply cards posted from Luxembourg), I revisited this well traveled Allegory message-reply card with the unused reply card still attached.


Here's this double card's apparent three-country, 300-day journey to the Belgian Congo and back:
July 29, 1901 to May 25, 1902
  • Alfred Beck, a student whose address is 5 Saarstrasse in Trier, Germany, writes to G. Kalber in Boma, the Belgian Congo, proposing an exchange of cards and stamps.  He dates the card 'Wasserbillig, le 28 juillet 1901,' and posts it on July 29, 1901 from Wasserbilling [large double circle cds].
  • The card arrives in Boma, Belgian Congo [blue-green cds] on August 27, 1901.  But where is Monsieur G. Kalber?
  • Auxiliary marks in French are applied:  'Retour a l'Expediteur' [at the bottom] and another at the upper left that I think indicates addressee unknown
  • Boma, April 29, 1902 [black cds struck twice], as the card is now being returned since G. Kalber hasn't called for it. The sender's name and address has been transcribed from the message side to the front in purple pencil for return to Trier.
  • Trier, Germany [bridge cancel], May 23, 1902.  Now the card is back to Trier, but the writer apparently isn't at 5 Saarstrasse anymore.
  • Auxiliary mark:  'REBUT' [dead letter] returned to Wasserbillig [May 25, 1902, large double-circle cds].
So, while interesting, this story is really a philatelic tragedy.  If G. Kalber had returned the reply card from Boma, we might now have an even more interesting story -- a reply card returned from Africa. 
By the way, double cards returned from Africa are quite a challenge.  I show an uprated G.D. Adolphe card returned from Tunisia here.

The writer's message

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Explaining two-country frankings on the Allegory postal cards


Explaining two-country frankings — occasionally found on the Allegory postal cards, especially during the 1890s —  challenges even the most erudite postal historians.  Here are four on which to test your knowledge.


1.  Bettingen to Stuttgart in 1894, redirected to
Munich, Germany



Württemberg 5-pf definitive



10-centime Allegory postal card (3rd series)

Bettingen, 24 Feb 1894

* Stuttgart (faint incoming cds), 25 Feb 1894

* Stuttgart (outgoing), 26 Feb 1894

* Munchen [No. 1], 26 Feb 1894

While Württemberg and Bavaria were never separate UPU members, they participated in the UPU through the German Imperial Post Office.   Württemberg retained its postal autonomy until March 31, 1902; Bavaria until March 31, 1920.

From the inception of the Treaty of Berne on July 1, 1875, no additional postage was to be charged for the redirection of postal articles within the interior of the union.  So why was a 5-pf Württemburg stamp added when this card was forwarded to Munich?  The 10-centime Allegory stamp imprint paid the UPU postal card rate.  Perhaps because of the change in the addressee's name, five centimes were added to pay what I assume was the rate within Germany (from Württemberg  to Bavaria)?



2.  Luxembourg-Gare to Rappoltsweiler in 1893, redirected to Hamburg-Hohenfelde, Germany



5-pf German definitive



Message Card of a10c + 10c Allegory Message-Reply Card (3rd series)

* Luxembourg-Gare, 9 Dec 1893

* Rappoltsweiler, then German-Alsace, 10 Dec 1893

*Hamburg-Hohenfelde, 10 [or '11'] Dec 1893

As in the first example, a 5-pf stamp has been added to this card sent by the well-known Luxembourg rose growers, Gebrüder Ketten, when it was forwarded from Rappoltsweiler in the German Alsace to Hamburg, Germany.   (Rappoltsweiler, located in the Haut-Rhin department of today's French Alsace, is now known as  Ribeauvillé.)

  As the 10-centime Allegory imprint paid the UPU rate, was additional postage necessary to forward this card?




3.  Berlin, Germany to Poste-Restante, Brussels, Belgium
in 1892!



5-pf German definitive



Reply Card of a 5c + 5c Allegory postal card (3rd series)

* Berlin, Germany, 19 Oct 1892

*Bruxelles, Belgium, 20 Oct 1892


Here the reply half of a 5c + 5c domestic message-reply card was posted from Berlin, uprated to the 10c UPU rate with a 5-pf German definitive, and directed to Brussels, Belgium!  Remarkably, no tax was charged.  Reply cards were supposed to be franked only with postage of the country of origin, which was only valid to return the reply card to the country of origin. 

Was this possibly a philatelic creation?



4.  Luxembourg-Ville to Cologne-Ehrenfeld, Germany
in 1892



5-pf German definitive



5-centime Allegory domestic postal card (3rd series)

* Luxembourg-Ville, 21 Oct 1892

* Coln-Ehrenfeld, 22 Oct 1892


Here the uprating with a 5-pf German definitive to pay the UPU (and German treaty) rate is done in Luxembourg, but without the imposition of any tax, perhaps as a matter of convenience for the sender and acquiescence by the postal clerk.