Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Absender Grossherzogin d'Luxemburg in 1916




Mourning Cover in the Hand of
G.D. Marie-Adélaïde

Who was Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde mourning when she posted this cover from Schloss Berg at Colmar-Berg on December 4, 1916,  to the Baroness Ritter in Munich, Germany?  Perhaps I'll find the answer in Edith O'Shaughnessy's detailed biography of the Grand Duchess, or maybe a reader of this blog will offer a suggestion.


Marie-Adélaïde's distinctive handwriting sometimes perplexed postal clerks.  Here someone, after deciphering the cover's destination, has written München in colored pencil across the front with strong underscoring!


Indeed, Edith O'Shaughnessy, in her fine biography, Marie Adelaide: Grand Duchess of Luxemburg Duchess of Nassau (1921: Harrison Smith, New York), tells us that it was Marie-Adélaïde's paternal grandmother, Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau, for whom Marie-Adélaïde was in mourning when she posted this cover (pp. 139-140).  She writes:
Towards the end of October, 1916, Marie Adelaide left her Duchy for the first time since the outbreak of the war.  It was to go to Königstein, near Frankfurt, the estate that years before the Grand Duke Adolf had given to his consort, Adelheid Marie of the House of Anhalt.  There she stood by the bedside of that mortally-stricken, beloved figure of her childhood, of her adolescence, of her reign.  Again on November 20th, she went to bury her.
Adelheid-Marie, seen in the images below, was born in Dessau on December 25, 1833, and died at Schloss Königstein on November 24, 1916.  Sadly, Marie-Adélaïde's visits to her dying grandmother were used by her political opponents as evidence that she had been sympathetic to Germany during World War I.




Saturday, March 12, 2011

Heinerscheid Registry No. 1




License plates with low numbers are much sought after.  But what about covers with low registry numbers?  Aren't they just as desirable?  Well, you'll have to decide.

Here's a cover with the optimum low registry number -- No. 1.  It is all the more remarkable because the number was written in the space provided for the registry number in the registry handstamp.  At least 95% of the covers I've seen have the number written outside the registry handstamp.

I also like the usage.  The cover was posted at Heinerscheid, May 23, 1922.  The Heinerscheid FSPL type 32 double-circle cancel is uncommon, even though it was used from 1910 until mid-October 1940.  (Heinerscheid was never issued a type 33 bridge-and-bar canceler.)  The cover was backstamped at Echternach the next day -- May 24, 1922.

The 25c Marie-Adélaïde definitive pays the domestic 20g letter rate; the 50c pays the registry fee.

How many number ones are in your collection?  No, I don't mean how many of the 10c William III 1852 issue.  These number ones are considerably scarcer!


Sunday, March 06, 2011

A railway cancel in manuscript!







As a long-time collector of Luxembourg railway cancels, I can't recall ever before seeing a railroad cancel rendered in manuscript.  But here is a recently-acquired 5c Allegory (3rd series) postal card with such a cancel from the Echternach-Ettelbrück TPO.

This rail line made its way from Echternach to Ettelbrück, passing by Weilerbach, Bollendorf, Grundhof, Dillingen, Wallendorf, Reisdorf, Moestroff, Bettendorf, and Gilsdorf.

Here's an example of the cancel:




Why was the card uprated to 10 centimes?

The card is uprated to ten centimes, so I assume the destination was the village of Bollendorf in Germany on the left bank of the Sauer river, opposite Bollendorf-Pont on the Luxembourg side. 

The addressee is a Mademoiselle Barreau, perhaps residing at the Bollendorf Waldvilla Barreau seen on the postcard below:




This card would fit nicely into an exhibit of either railway cancels or Allegory postal stationery.  Maybe that's why it was so expensive!


Friday, March 04, 2011

Centilux & Jack Beken



This is a correctly franked cover posted from the Centilux philatelic exhibition on the last day of the show, June 4, 1952.  The Centilux tête-bêche pair and the 2 F Europa commemorative pay the 4-franc UPU letter rate and 4-franc registry fee.  The oval backstamp documents the cover's arrival at Isleworth, Middlesex, England, June 7, 1952.  And so it's a nice modern postal history cover.

But it's a lot more.  As a young collector in the 1960s, I enjoyed putting together a modest Liechtenstein collection.  In those days, long before the advent of Internet technology, obtaining philatelic information and solving philatelic mysteries required dedicated correspondence with knowledgeable senior collectors.  One of the kindest and most helpful was the late Jack Beken, the British gentlemen and Liechtenstein philately authority to whom this cover is addressed.  No matter how naïve or elementary the question, Jack Beken always provided a satisfying answer.  It was a sad day in 1977 when I learned that this distinguished philatelist had died.


I sold most of my Liechtenstein material long ago to finance Luxembourg purchases, but the eight-stamp block below remains.  When I acquired the block for $6.00  from a Matthew Bennett auction in the 1960s, I was clueless why it was imperforate and ungummed.  Of course Jack Beken had the answer -- it's a proof! 


Now we have ever fewer devoted philatelic authorities like Jack Beken.  When there is none, philately will be remembered mostly as a curious pursuit rather than the learned endeavor it is.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

An unusual mixed franking uprating a 5c Allegory Postal Card in 1888!



Luxembourg's classic postal stationery ends with the last Coat of Arms issue in 1881; the neo-classics begin with the Allegory stationery in 1882. 

Sometimes -- not very often -- we find the 1880 Haarlem print definitives used to uprate an Allegory postal card, and almost always the card will be from the first Allegory stationery issue.  So you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered this 5c card from the third Allegory stationery issue uprated with a 1c Allegory definitive and a 4c Arms definitive from the 1875 local print definitives.


Judging by the long message on the back, use of the 4c Arms definitive was an act of frugality, and not a philatelic creation.  The card left Echternach on September 1, 1888, between 12:00-1:00 p.m., transited Luxembourg-Gare a few hours later, between 3:00-4:00 p.m., and arrived in Paris the next day.  There is a blue-green Paris Etranger cds tying the two stamps to the card and a Paris (66) R. Meissonier delivery cds.


And there's an added bonus.  This card has an unserifed 'A' before the first address line above 'An.'  This shows that it is from the initial printing of 41,000 third-issue 5c cards.  These were delivered in July 1888.  The 37 subsequent printings that appeared from August 14, 1888 through December 24, 1894, comprising 2,647,990 cards, all feature a serifed 'A.' 


There's really nothing that I dislike about this card. I think even those collectors whose nose takes a downward turn when postal stationery appears will appreciate and enjoy it.