Monday, December 22, 2014

In 1894, did the UPU printed-matter rate apply to mimeographed text? Maybe not! (But updated below.)

The mimeograph machine or stencil duplicater dates back to the mid-1880s.  These devices, which I remember from my high school days producing the school paper, worked by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper.  No typesetting or skilled labor was necessary.  In the late 1960s, mimeographs were gradually supplanted by photocopying and offset printing.

1889 Advertisement
for the Edison Mimeograph

And since we occasionally see postal cards with mimeographed text, a postal historian might wonder whether such text qualified as “printed matter” under the UPU definitions fixing the special printed-matter rates.  At least in the case below, it either did not or was not recognized as mimeographed printing:

Mähr. Ostrau-Moravská Ostrava,
15 Nov 1894
Rumelange, Luxembourg
17 Nov 1894

The 2-Kreuzer Bohemian-language Kaiser Franz Joseph postal card was taxed 15 centimes, apparently because the mimeographed text was not recognized as printed matter.


A kind correspondent writes that “[t]he key to printed matter is the definition:  anything can go as printed matter as long as it is not in the nature of ‘true correspondence’.  From the image you present, it would easily be taken for ‘correspondence’ by its layout as not everyone would be familiar with ‘modern’ technology in the period.”  

The writer also reminds me that another requirement for a card to go as printed matter was that any reference to “Postcard” or “Postal Card” had to be crossed out and the word “Imprimé” substituted.  This card failed that criterion.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A little bit of Belgium in Luxembourg—another geographically-challenged postal card



Last month’s geography lesson was “Luxembourg, France.”
Today’s lesson is “Arlon, Luxemburg”



Monastyriska, Austria
[today part of the Ukraine]
21 Feb 1895, to “Arlon, Luxemburg.”

Luxembourg-Gare, 24 Feb 1895, 11:00 a.m.-Noon.

Arlon [Belgium!], 24 Feb 1895, 10:00 p.m.

Improperly sent at the printed matter rate,
so the 2-kretzer Polish-text card was taxed 15 centimes.


Well, until 1839 Arlon was part of the Grand Duchy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

United States APO-BPO 30c Airmail to Rodenbourg in 1946



U.S. Army Postal Service
11th BPO
29 August 1946

The 30c/½ oz. European airmail rate remained
in effect from 28 Apr 1939 to 1 Nov 1946.


BPO [Base Post Office] 11 was located in Paris, France, from 22 Oct 1944 to 1 Apr 1947. APO 513 (shown here as the sender’s return address) was also located in Paris during 1946.

The 6c Monoplane air envelope only paid United States military concession airmail service to addresses in the United States. Mail to other addresses had to be paid at the standard United States rates. Thus, this air mail cover was marked “Postage Due __ cents” with ms 24, after which a pair of the 12c Taylor Prexie was added uprating the cover to the 30c airmail rate, and the postage due auxiliary mark was then crossed out.

APO and BPO mail to non-domestic addresses is uncommon.  A more direct and less expensive alternative would have been to post the letter through the French postal service.  The result, however, is an especially attractive and unusual use of the 12c Prexie!



Monday, December 15, 2014

Incoming mail in 1920 from where? Yes, Cilicia!






20 para



1 piaster




Cilicia comprises the south coastal region of Asia Minor, as seen on the map. From December 1918 to October 1921, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the French controlled Cilicia. Although Cilician Armenians sought to create an independent Cilician state under French authority, the French relinquished Cilicia to Turkey on October 21, 1921, under the Treaty of Ankara.

During this 23-month period, the French administration in Cilicia used stamps of Turkey, France, and the French Offices in Turkey overprinted T.E.O. Cilicie [Territoires Ennemis Occupés] or O.M.F. Cilicie [Occupation Militaire Francaise].

Surely mail between this short-lived political entity and Luxembourg must be uncommon as little connects the two countries. An example—the only one I’ve encountered—is the view card shown here, which was posted from Adana, Cilicia, on January 25, 1920, as part of a postcard exchange with a correspondent in Esch-sur-Alzette.

Two Cilicia overprints are tied to the view side by the Adana cancel: a 1916 Turkish 20-para commemorative showing the old general post office in Constantinople overprinted in black T.E.O. Cilicie and a 1-piaster Turkish pictorial from the 1913 issue showing the Mosque of Selim at Adrianople also overprinted T.E.O. Cilicie, but in red. On the reverse is the French Control Postal censor mark.


Quite a nice item if you enjoy unusual incoming mail to Luxembourg!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

“Luxemburg, France”

In the small Minnesota village in which I grew up, the postal clerks often referred to Luxembourg as part of Germany.  And they were not alone in this misconception.  We occasionally find cards and covers addressed to “Luxemburg, Germany” from all parts of the world.  You could form a comical exhibit of such cards!

But here is the first example I’ve encountered in which the sender misconceives of Luxembourg as part of France—specifically, “Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxemburg, France.”   Esch, of course, is located just a few kilometers north of the French border.





Biddeford, Maine USA 
19 August 1922

View of the Biddeford, Maine
Post Office

So keep an eye out for incoming mail.  Somewhere, I think I also have a card to Luxemburg, Belgium. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Letter to Diekirch in 1888—Registered in London, Re-registered in Belgium? Why?


2d QV Inland Registry Envelope
Uprated With a 2½d QV Definitive

Seething Lane B.O. E.C.
25 Jan 1888
Registered London 4E
25 Jan 1888
[b/s] 26 Jan 1888
[b/s] 26 Jan 1888 


This is the first example of incoming mail I’ve seen from this (or any) period with re-registry in Belgium? What purpose did re-registration serve? Perhaps the Belgian registry label was applied due to the absence of a London registry label (and number).

Incoming Mail from England to Joseph Schock, editor of Les Petités Affiches du Timbrophile, in 1898



London E.C. 12
24 Dec 1898

25 Dec 1898


Please send sample copy of
“Les Petités Affiches du Timbrophile.”

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

10c 1886 Allegory Reply Card Returned from New York Taxed – Here’s Why!

001 (2)
10c Brown Allegory UPU Reply Card
New York Station P
26 January 1886
5 February 1886

Taxed 1/25 (single rate – letter rate)
in New York City

For a long time, I thought the New York postal clerk erred in taxing this card at the 25-centime letter rate (which would then be doubled upon receipt).  But that’s not the case.

Thanks to the kind assistance of an expert on UPU regulations, I have learned that as of April 1, 1879, the issuance of international reply cards and their acceptance could only be done by UPU members who were signatories to the Special Convention on Reply-Paid Postal Cards.  The United States was not.  This convention remained in force until after the Congress of Vienna, during what is referred to as the Period of Optional Use.

At the Congress of Lisbon in 1885, however, it was decided that all UPU members—not just the signatories—were to honor reply cards and return them to the country of issue.  The Lisbon 1885 rules took effect on April 1, 1886—a little over two months after this card was posted.  The period from April 1, 1886, to March 31, 1892, is referred to as the Period of Mandatory Return by

The United States did not honor international reply cards until it was required to beginning April 1, 1886.  The Luxembourg Post Office may have allowed the originating double card to go to the United States under the mistaken understanding that all UPU members were advancing the acceptance date, but the United States and a number of other members did not.  Thus, the reply card was improperly posted in the United States and was properly marked for postage due, although it is unclear whether the addressee (J.B. Schock, Commissioner of Posts at Luxembourg-Gare!) paid the 50 centimes postage due.

And at the Congress of Vienna in 1891, it was decided that all countries would be required to issue reply cards.

So, yet another postal history mystery has now been solved!

002 (2)

Monday, August 04, 2014

Modern Postal History from Arsdorf

Collecting modern postal history can be even more challenging than acquiring classic covers from international auctions.  That’s because modern covers seldom appear in these expensive international auctions; they are more likely to be found on the Internet or in the stocks of vest pocket dealers at small bourses, local shows, or flea markets.  

If you can’t attend the bourses or shows, maybe a kind friend will help by searching for material on your behalf.  That’s how I was fortunate recently to acquire these three gems of modern Arsdorfian postal history.

Second-step Domestic Registered Letter in 1943, 
during the World War 2 Occupation

20-250g domestic letter = 24 Rpf.
Registry fee = 30 Rpf.
Arsdorf to Ettelbrück
12 January 1943
Reich franking became mandatory in Luxembourg on
1 January 1942; before that, from April 1, 1941 onward, it was discretionary.
Who has a third-step 40 Rpf. 250-500g cover from Arsdorf? 
Maybe nobody!

Arsdorf c Roller Cancel
(FSPL Type 53.09)

3-Franc 20g Domestic Letter Rate 
Arsdorf to Hostert
20 November 1970
When collecting cancels of your favorite towns and villages, don’t forget to look for the roller cancels.  They can be especially elusive, particularly on cover!

Registered in Arsdorf but Cancelled in Rambrouch:
A Modern Postal History Mystery 

‘Arsdorf-Rambrouch’ to Luxembourg-Ville
3 November 1976
6-Franc 20g Domestic Letter Rate
20-Franc Domestic Registry Fee

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Can you explain the unusual routing of this registered postal card in 1941 during the WW2 occupation?


15 Rpf.
foreign surface postal card rate
 + 30 Rpf. registration fee


Luxemburg 1,
18 January 1941 


Reich censorship
in Berlin or Frankfurt 


San Francisco, California
(West coast of the United States!)
3 March 1941


Union City, New Jersey USA
(East coast of the United States)
8 Mar 1941


The card is incorrectly addressed to “Union-City N.Y.” but was delivered to nearby Union City, New Jersey.

There is also a Union City, California, on the east side of San Francisco Bay. Might that have been why the card reached San Francisco, California on March 3rd? The postal clerks certainly haven’t given us any clues!

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Mixed Hindenburg & Hitler-Head Franking on an Incoming Parcel Card in 1943

The Hindenburg medallions overprinted Luxemburg lost their validity at the end of 1942; however, the unoverprinted Hindenburgs remained valid in the Reich until May 1945. Thus, the 25 Rpf. Hindenburg is properly used with the 60 Rpf. Hitler-Head on this incoming parcel card from Tiefenbach über Oberstdorf in Bavaria, 4 February 1943, to Esch/Alzig, 9 February 1943.
Similar Hindenburg & Hitler-Head mixed frankings, therefore, should have been possible from Luxembourg, as well, presumably from April 1, 1941, when all German stamps became valid for use in Luxembourg, but I have yet to see an example.  Have you?
The World War II parcel cards invite study by specialists.  Almost nothing has been written about them.  The code numbers on the right side of the parcel label come from a grid book used to calculate distance and rate.  Here the charge was 60 Rpf. for 5 kg. of weight to Esch/Alzig plus 10 Rpf. for 200 RM of insured value and 15 Rpf. for home delivery.  As shown on the reverse, the home delivery fee was refunded when the parcel was picked up at the post office.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mourning Cover from Diekirch in 1916 to Violin Virtuosa Alma Moodie

Alma Templeton Moodie, born in Queensland, Australia, in 1898, was a child prodigy who became the foremost female violinist of the inter-war years. At age 9, she left Australia to study at the Brussels conservatory. She remained in Europe until her untimely death in 1943.

In studying the mourning cover below, which was sent to Holland, I noticed that the addressee’s name did not sound German or Dutch. And after web research, I realized why—the recipient was the then eighteen-year-old Alma Moodie!

Diekirch, 4 Feb 1916
Censored in Trier
To Roermond, Holland [b/s ? 24 Feb 1916]
20g UPU letter rate = 25c


Kay Dreyfus, the author of a recent biography of Moodie entitled Bluebeard’s Bride: Alma Moodie, Violinist (2013), writes in response to my inquiry about Moodie’s connection to Holland:
Exactly what she was doing during the first world war years would be something I probably don't know in great detail. I know she and her mother fled from Germany back to Brussels where, I had thought, they stayed for the duration of the war. I only have a very general idea of what they actually did during the war years or how they survived.  I have a copy of a scrapbook which contains copies of programs of (semi-private) concerts Moodie gave in Brussels during that time, but I have no evidence that she went anywhere else.  I know that in the 1920s she went to Holland on tour regularly[.]
So we do not know who was being mourned, who Frau Frauenberg the sender of the cover was, nor who Madam Ahrens was—the cover having been addressed to Moodie in care of her residence.  But thanks to Kay Dreyfus, we know quite a bit about the fascinating person to whom the mourning cover was sent.

The esteemed conductor Werner Reinhart, Alma Moodie,
and the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, in the 1920s.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

12-Rpf Hindenburg Overprint Pays Postage Due on Incoming Feldpost Mail in 1940





Feldpost b – 18 Oct 1940
Feldpost Number 27438

To Binser [Biwer?] [Post: Wecker] – 21 Oct 1940

Marked ‘T’ - 12-Rpf Reich 20g letter rate paid with a 12-Rpf Hindenburg Overprint!

But wasn’t incoming Feldpost free to the recipient?



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Local Delivery Rates During the World War II Occupation

"Ortstarif" Rates 1940-1945

Easily overlooked by postal history collectors are the reduced rates for local delivery of postcards and letters that first began during the World War II occupation.

The so-called “ortstarif” rates took effect on October 1, 1940, when the Reich currency was implemented. These rates continued in francs and centimes after the occupation until October 1, 1945.

Here are three examples from the occupation period:

5-Rpf. Local Postcard Rate
Kayl – Local Use
7 November 1941


8-Rpf. Local 20g Letter Rate
Düdelingen im Moselland – Local Use
25 January 1944


16-Rpf. Local 20g-250g Letter Rate
Mixed Franking
6 Rpf Charlotte (2nd) & 10 Rpf Hindenburg
Luxemburg 1 d – Local Use
18 February 1941


From the Bofferding brewery to the brewers’ association!

16-Rpf. Local 20g-250g Letter Rate
Turned Envelope
Free mail sent by the Finanzamt Esch (Alzig)
Esch-Alzig n, 24 Jun 1943, to D
Returned by the recipient Esch (Alzig) g – Local Use
16-Rpf Hitler Head – Sole Use!
18 May 1944

This turned cover also reminds us of the paper shortages that were experienced toward the end of the occupation.

38-Rpf. Local
20g Registered Letter Rate
Fels (Moselland) a – Local Use
15 August 1942
8-Rpf postage + 30-Rpf registry fee


Gemeindeverwaltung Heffingen = Heffingen Local Government

After the occupation, the 20g local letter rate was 80 centimes, and 1.60 Fr for 20g-250g local letters. The local postcard rate was 50 centimes.

Add Ortstarif covers to your collection. They are a small but interesting part of Luxembourg’s postal history!