Thursday, December 29, 2011

Diekirch to Serang in 1900; Luxembourg-Gare to Matadi in 1901; Vianden to Puerto Principe (Cuba) in 1896



Serang, Indonesia (47 miles west of Jakarta)

The G.D. Adolphe postal stationery provides a rich range of uses, much to the postal historian’s delight. 

The first of the three Adolphe postal stationery issues was valid from May 4, 1895 until the end of 1908.  During this period, postcard and postal card use reached its zenith, providing a popular economical medium for personal and business communication. 

Happily, the Adolphe cards, now over 100 years old, remain plentiful.  There are no records of how many were printed.  You’ll find a few with scarce cancels, others with interesting uprated uses, and some to exotic destinations, as shown by the three cards below, occasionally for only a few dollars or euros (depending on the seller’s acumen!). 

So keep your eyes open at the bourses and on the web.  Luxembourg’s neo-classical postal stationery is still underpriced and underappreciated, but that might change!


5c Adolphe stationery (1st series)
Uprated UPU use from Diekirch in 1900
to Serang, Indonesia


Diekirch, 21 Aug 1900

Luxembourg-Gare, 21 Aug 1900

Postagent Penang [Malaya], 17 Sep 1900

Singapore, 19 Sep 1900

Weltevreden, Netherlands East Indies, 24 Sep 1900

Serang, Netherlands East Indies, 24 Sep 1900



*   *   *



Matadi, near the mouth of the Congo river,
just upstream from Banana and Boma

5c Adolphe stationery (1st series)
Uprated UPU use in 1901 to
Matadi, Belgian Congo


Luxembourg-Gare, 3 Jul 1901
Written at Mamer, showing the cachet of
Bois-J.B. Pl

Matadi, Belgian Congo, 26 (?) Aug 1901



*   *   *


Camagüey [formerly Puerto Principe], in central Cuba

10c Adolphe stationery (1st series) 

UPU use from Vianden in 1896
to Puerto Principe [now: Camagüey], Cuba


Vianden, 20 Aug 1896

Havana, Cuba [b/s], 2 Sep 1896



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Luxembourg airmail within Europe: May 1, 1939 to the October 1, 1940 required use of Reichmark franking


Effective May 1, 1939, foreign (Belgian, French or German) franking was no longer required to pay international airmail supplements on airmail originating from Luxembourg. 

And, according to the Basien-Hoffkamp rate book at p. 173, from that date forward there were only two rates for airmail to other European countries:

  • 50c per 20g for letters to Germany, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland
  • 75c per 20g for letters to all other European countries

The first two covers illustrate these rates.  The rating of the third is a mystery.

Airmail to France
24 Jul 1939

50c airmail supplement



Luxembourg-Ville, July 24, 1939, to Nice, France, July 26, 1939, properly rated at the 20g letter rate to France (1.25F) plus a 50c airmail supplement.

Censored Airmail to Finland
31 Jan 1940

75c airmail supplement



Luxembourg-Ville, January 31, 1940, routed via the Netherlands and Sweden, from the Finnish consulate in Luxembourg, censored in Finland, with February 1, 1940 Brussels transit and February 6, 1940 Helsinki backstamps.

The cover is properly rated at the 20g UPU letter rate (1.75F) plus a 75c airmail supplement.

Officially Resealed Airmail to Italy
13 May 1939

Rate ???



Luxembourg-Gare, May 13, 1939 (less than two weeks since the abolition of the foreign-stamp surcharges), routed in manuscript “Via Cologne,” to Merano, Italy, May 17, 1939, with a strip of four official seals reading “Amministrazione delle Regie Poste,” each dated May 17th [Drummond Type OS2].

Here the franking totals 3.75F.  As a 20g UPU letter, 2.50F would have paid postage and the airmail supplement, with the letter overfranked by 1.25F.  As a 20-40g UPU letter, 4.25F franking would have been required [1.75F + 1F + 75c + 75c], leaving the letter underpaid by 50c. 

Is the letter incorrectly franked?  Somebody must know, and I hate to describe a lovely cover as “misfranked.”

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A heavy registered 1901 mourning cover (and a more frugal example), an official registered mourning cover, a registered incoming mourning cover, and one with insufficient postage


Mourning cover collectors have never agreed on the significance, if any, of the width of the covers’ black borders, but they all agree that registered mourning covers are unusual and scarce.

Consider this big guy:



The cover measures 140x218 mm.; the front borders are a robust 25 mm. wide! 

Endorsed “75 gr,” the cover pays the 5th step letter rate to Germany (25c/15g x 5 = 1.25F) plus a 25c registry, with the 1.50F total charge nicely paid with the 50c and 1F Adolphe definitives.

But putting those details aside, the interesting question this cover raises is why the sender—J. Bunsen-Knaff—sent it by registered mail, replete with four wax seals.  Perhaps because the addressee--Philipp Bunsen--in Hannover, Germany, probably was a relative?  Posted from Luxembourg-Ville, October 28, 1901, it arrived the next day, as shown by the backstamp.

Mourning covers offer a lot of postal history and genealogical appeal.  You can learn much more about mourning covers at , which web address will take you to the website of the Mourning Stamp and Cover Club.

Another Example of Wide Borders

Here is another mourning cover with even slightly wider borders.  But it is of especial interest for another reason--because it unfolds to reveal the identity of the person being mourned.



Posted from Luxembourg-Ville, March 27, 1933, to Göppingen, Germany, the cover mourns Benjamin Bonn, an attorney who died on March 25, 1933, and who was interred in the Jewish Cemetery at Luxembourg Belle-Vue on March 28, 1933. 

Unlike the registered cover, this cover was sent at the frugal 35c rate for printed matter to Germany not exceeding 50g!






Registered Mourning Cover from the Royal Residence at Colmar-Berg in 1912 sent to Bavarian royalty in Munich






Registered official mail from the royal residence at Colmar-Berg franked with the 50c William IV official, posted June 24, 1912 to Munich, Germany, and is backstamped Munchen, June 25, 1912.

The addressee is Nelly von Schmidt, who was the maid of honor to Countess Mathilde Trani (as indicated in the second line of the address).  Nelly von Schmidt died in 1919; Mathilde Trani in 1925.  They were buried in the same crypt at Waldfried in Munich.

The cover is also interesting because it was sent just 12 days after Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde became of age on her 18th birthday.  It is endorsed in purple:  “Service de la Grand Duchesse.”

In whose hand was the letter addressed?  And who was being mourning?



Registered incoming mourning cover
from Bavaria in 1919




Ruchheim, Bavaria, October 14, 1919, with backstamps of Bad Dürkheim, October 15th, and Luxembourg-Ville, October 17th, addressed to Luxembourg-Limpertsberg.

A 1912 Mourning Cover from Luxembourg
to Germany with postage due!




This mourning cover, franked only with a 10c G.D. William IV definitive, was posted from Luxembourg-Ville, September 26, 1912, to Osnabrück, Germany, short-paid by 2½ centimes (the 20g letter rate to Germany at the time being 12½c).  The cover is marked “T” in blue crayon, has been handstamped “PORTO” (probably in Germany), and has the deficiency indicated in pencil.

Mourning covers with postage due assessed are even scarcer than registered mourning covers.  This might partly be explained by the reluctance of postal clerks to tax covers bringing bad news!  But that wasn’t the case in this instance.



Friday, December 09, 2011

Is this scarce 5-franc stamp in your collection?



See my December 8, 2011, post on “The 1925 5-franc ‘Police des Estrangers’ (Foreign Registration) stamp” at .