Thursday, April 24, 2014

Postal History as Political History: When War Beckoned



</> </>


1-Fr. Prince Henry

Centenary of Independence Issue

23 August 1939
to South Portland, Maine

1-Fr. UPU Post Card Rate


Dear Friends,

We are still in Luxembourg, but it is getting too dangerous. All your countrymen and Englishmen are going home, and tomorrow we go to Holland. It is a great pity, but we must go, for when war begins it is impossible.




There is irony in the franking—a stamp from the issue celebrating Luxembourg’s century of independence. 

In more recent times, I suspect similar sentiments were expressed by those leaving Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, as conflict beckoned, not to forget the Ukraine even today.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

From A to Z

Collecting incoming mail adds color and richness to a Luxembourg postal history collection.  And with searchable websites and auction catalogs, it’s possible to find many unusual examples.  Here are a couple of my favorites—Aden and Zanzibar:


Aden to Luxembourg-Grund
in 1894
10 Pf. German Eagle Postal Card

Deutsche Seepost,
Ost-Asiatische Haupt Linie
23 Feb 1894
23 Feb 1894

Transit Ligne N Paq. FR. No. 8

25 Feb 1894

To Luxembourg-Grund

Written at Aden, 21 Feb 1894 (in French!)
Aden's location made it a popular exchange port for mail passing between places around the Indian Ocean and Europe during the late 19th and early 20th century (the Zanzibar card below is an example).  The 1910 Encyclopaedia Britannica [11th ed.] mentions that the port back then was visited yearly by 1300 steamers.

The Wharf at Aden 

Zanzibar to Luxembourg-Ville
in 1898
1 Anna Zanzibar Postal Card

[Squared Circle] 15 Jun 1898
Transit Aden, 27 Jun 1898
Luxembourg-Ville, 11 Jul 1898
Forwarded to:
Luneville, France, 12 Jul 1898

Sent to J. G. Paquelet, whose stamp dealer correspondence spanned the globe. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

World War II: 50 Rpf. Special Delivery Fee to Belgium

Luxemburg, 3 Oct 1941
Censored:  C22 [Cologne]  

To Brussels, Belgium

With Mixed franking:
6 Rpf. Hitler-head
50 Rpf. Hindenburg

During the World War II occupation, letters and postcards from Luxembourg to Belgium were treated preferentially, with the Reich domestic 12 Rpf. letter rate and 6 Rpf. postcard rate applying. (In contrast, mail to neighboring France was charged the 25 Rpf. foreign letter and 15 Rpf. postcard rate.)

However, the special delivery fee to Belgium was 50 Rpf.—the fee charged for foreign mail, not the 40 Rpf. Reich domestic special delivery fee.

The commercial postcard shown above shows the Belgian preferential 6 Rpf. postcard rate and the non-preferential 50 Rpf. special delivery fee.

I also like the corner card:

Antony Steinbach
Hochfeine glanzlacke
[fine gloss paint]

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Modern Luxembourg Postal History – Collectible and Affordable

I often wonder why so much modern Luxembourg postal history goes wanting. Enjoyment of philately and postal history should not be just for the rich.

In the 14th Schlegel auction in Berlin this week, there were over 300 lots of Luxembourg classics, but the starting price for the least expensive lot was about 50 euros (plus commission, plus a per lot fee, plus money transfer charges, plus shipping). On websites like Delcampe and Jim Forte’s, however, you’ll find that equally interesting, equally challenging modern postal history abounds, and it is often offered for one-tenth of that 50-euro threshold over at auction houses like Schlegel.

Here’s an example of a recent purchase of mine of modern Luxembourg postal history from a seller in Portugal—price: just $2.99!

64 gm. [50g-100g rate] letter to Germany = 36 F
Registry fee to Germany = 80 F
1 May 1996 tariff
1990 Dynasty Sheet (100 F) +
16 F 1999 UPU 125th Anniversary commemorative
Weiswampach tourist hand cancel,
16 Sep 1999
Weiswampach to Hilden, Germany
Registry labels:
Luxembourg:  RR 002464874 LU
Germany:  R04291240692DE
Reverse Corner card (on back flap):
Walter Strelow
Anlageberater [Investment Advisor]

Scarce Luxembourg-franked mail carried on the DO-X Demonstration Flight in 1931!


Rare Luxembourg Franking


Dornier-X (DO-X) Flying Boat
Taking Off

Completed in June 1929 and first flown on 23 July 1929, the 56-ton Dornier Do-X was then the world’s largest, heaviest, and most powerful flying boat.  Powered by 12 engines (six tractor propellers and six pushers), it was designed to carry 66 passengers in luxurious accommodations on long flights (like on an ocean liner) and 100 on short flights.  The engines consumed 400 gallons of gas each hour.

The 1930-1931 Promotional Flight


To introduce the airliner to the potential United States market the Do-X took off from Friedrichshafen, Germany, on 3 November 1930, for a transatlantic test flight to New York, just three years after Lindbergh's historic trans-Atlantic flight. The convoluted route (shown in red on the map) first took the Do-X to the Netherlands, England, France, Spain, and Portugal.

Treaty mail from certain European countries was accepted for dispatch via Friedrichshafen with stamps of the country of origin exclusively.  The American Air Mail Society (AAMS) catalogue lists these countries as Austria, Danzig, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Saar and Switzerland, with the possibility of mail “dispatched from Luxembourg (with Luxembourg and Dutch stamps)” (5th ed., vol. 5, p. 2353).

The scarcity of Luxembourg-franked treaty mail is evident from the $1000 value placed on such mail by the AAMS in the 1985 catalog ($1000. in 1985 = $2170. in today’s inflated US dollars).

Luxembourg Franking Luxembourg-Ville, 10 Jan 1931

001a 001b

Netherlands Franking ’sGravenhage, 12 Jan 1931

001c 001d

Friedrichschafen (Bodensee) Transit cancel and DO-X cachet, 15 Jan 1931


At Lisbon, the journey was interrupted on 29 November, when a tarpaulin made contact with a hot exhaust pipe and started a fire that consumed most of the portside wing. The DO-X remained in Lisbon harbor for six weeks, until the end of January, while new parts were fabricated and the damage repaired by Dornier technicians. Additional mail was taken aboard at Lisbon.

Do-X cancel – 30 Jan 1931
Just prior to departing from Lisbon on 31 Jan 1931


The DO-X resumed its demonstration flight on 31 January 1931, and after 7 hours and an average speed of 190 km/h, the flying boat reached its first stop at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
But the aircraft was dogged by bad luck. On 3 February shortly before take-off, the Do X collided with a swell that came rolling in. The boat suffered a heavy blow, and the wings were almost torn off. The aircraft was stuck in Las Palmas for the next three months because of the necessary improvements to her structure.

The AAMS catalogue notes that a “few [covers] are known with [the] backstamp of Puerto de la Luz.” citing only Austrian-franked mail as having such a backstamp.  (Las Palmas is also known as Puerto de la Luz.)  Here the Luxembourg-franked card shown above also bears the backstamp of Puerto de la Luz:
Puerto de la Luz (Canaries) backstamp 26 Mar 1931


The flight continued on from Las Palmas.  However, this card was returned from Las Palmas to Rotterdam, where it arrived on 31 March 1931, and from whence it was forwarded to The Hague, the addressee being G.A.G. Thoolen, whose cachet on the back reads “Air Post Specialist ‘s-Gravenhage – Holland.”


Rotterdam Receiving Cancel 31 March 1931


By 5 June 1931, the DO-X had reached the islands of Cape Verde, from which it crossed the ocean to Natal in Brazil, where the crew were greeted as heroes by the local German émigré communities.

The flight continued north to the United States, finally reaching New York on 27 August 1931, almost nine months after departing Friedrichshafen.


Quite a memorable era in aviation and aeropostal history!